Table Of Contents
2. Seven Chaykras
3. Root Chaykra
4. Physical/Mental Exercises
4.1 True awareness of the body
4.2 Stand tall and breath naturally
4.3 Grounding Pose
4.4 Lotus Pose
5. Lotus Pose : Step by step Instructions
All good Yogi's know the importance of balance. In science, we call balance equilibrium.
According to University of California, Davis, a chemical equilibrium is: "a state in which the rate of the forward reaction equals the rate of the backward reaction. In other words, there is no net change in concentrations of reactants and products. This kind of equilibrium is also called dynamic equilibrium."
The human body is a powerful and beautiful machine that, like all biological creatures, it is always striving for chemical equilibrium.
Our body's endocrine system regulates hormones, also called "chemical messengers" into the body through glands.
As outlined by Stephen Kemp, MD, PhD in Emedicinehealth, "These hormones regulate the body's growth, metabolism (the physical and chemical processes of the body), and sexual development and function. The hormones are released into the bloodstream and may affect one or several organs throughout the body."
What are the organs affected?
You guess it. They line up with the seven chaykras!
As we've discussed in our last post, Yoga Science: Thinking Feelingly, the yogis and mystics of eastern culture and civilization have known (often intuitively) for millennia what western science has only been able to prove fairly recently.
Our goal in the post is to continue the theme of bridging the gap between science and mysticism.
It has once been said that mysticism allows us to access information outside the intellect, often through intuition and deep mediation.
Unfortunately, it's very difficult to "access" someone else's mind, and even harder to prove the validity of any claim.
I prefer the language of science because it's specific, measurable, and has been proven (again and again) in both lab and the real world.
I'm not here to use vague words like "energy" without describing, as specifically as modern science allows - what type of energy.
Like most forms of energy, you can't hold it....
It's electric! (boogey, boogey, boogey).
And, as electric current flows, it creates a magnetic field. This is why most of the energy we will be discussing is electromagnetic.
But let's be clear...all the "hard science" still isn't in yet!
The noetic sciences (the science of thoughts and the electromagnetic waves) are still in their infancy.
Non-coincidentally, it was perhaps the greatest scientific mind in the 20th century, Nikoli Tesla, that said:
"The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence."
And so much of the science behind Yoga is precisely that study of the non-physical.
Each pose is more than just a work out! Even a novice (like me) understands the mind-body connection, and this connection resonates and flows through body like a wave.
And scientifically speaking - that feeling, is more than just a feeling. There are chemical reactions involved, perhaps hundreds or thousands of them involved!
Just like that thought, is more than just a thought. Here too, there are excitable impulses that, when fired in unison, creates electromagnetic waves which create a MEASURABLE brain wave state.
As discussed in our previous blog post HERE, there are five different brain wave states ranging from very high frequency (Gamma) to very low dreamless and deep rapid eye movement sleep (Delta).
We are generally in a higher frequency (faster) brain wave state when we are very active and focused, such as when working diligently or in conversation.
In most cases (with the except of Gamma - which corresponds to expanded consciousness, higher virtues, love, altruism, and perception) this is usually a beta brain wave state.
Beta is highly useful, but we are not supposed to LIVE there. Just like the yogi's chaykras, brain wave states must be balanced.
However, in a society that is endlessly stimulated by technology, our bosses now have 24/7 access to us. We are constantly emailing, texting, browsing, and scrolling.
Effectively, we are scrolling ourselves into multiple forms of neuroses, and for a growing number of people today, they manifest as stress, anxiety, and depression.
While very useful in short to medium doses, living life in beta (especially high beta) is downright dangerous. This exacerbates our stress response, which evolved biologically to be a very temporary, flight or fight response and not designed for lengthy periods.
This is where thoughts BECOME REAL, and can chemically and biologically negatively affect our physical health, not just our emotional and spiritual health.
Chemically speaking, during the stress response, both the hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released at this time, and if this continues, eventually our immune system, and virtually every other bodily system, will suffer.
Exactly which bodily systems will suffer and to what degree will largely depend on the individual, and some important differentiating variables will be age, genetics, etc.
Since heart rate is highly increased during this time,the risk of heart disease as well as many heart conditions are increased significantly.
Ever feel that sinking feeling in your gut when your stressed or nervous?
Well, not surprisingly, your digestive system is also affected and the risk of stomach and digestive issues also increases.
A prolonged stress response is also linked to weight gain, which once again taxes the heart and the circulatory system.
Can't stop thinking when stressed or nervous? Over time, this can greatly increase risk of migraines and headaches.
The list goes on and on. There are also studies that suggest prolonged and chronic stress can indirectly cause cancer, and can make existing cancer worse.
Shelley Tworoger, an associate professor of population science at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida from Live Science explains,
"What's more, chronic stress weakens the immune system. Since the immune system acts as the cleaning crew that destroys and mops up damaged cells with genetic or metabolic errors, a weakened immune system could be the doorway in for cancer cells, Toworoger said.
There is "growing evidence that chronic stress can affect the cancer risk and progression through immune dysregulation," said Dr. Elisa Bandera, a professor and chief of Cancer Epidemiology and Health Outcomes at the Rutgers Cancer Institute in New Jersey"
So to review, the main two hormones produced during the chronic stress response are adrenaline and cortisol.
Both hormones are produced directly in the adrenal gland, this is also known in Yoga as the root, or 1st Chaykra.
What does the Yogi say about the 1st chaykra?
Timothy Pope, a counselor and practitioner states,
"The Root Chakra is about being physically there and feeling at home in situations. If it is open, you feel grounded, stable and secure. You don’t unnecessarily distrust people. You feel present in the here and now and connected to your physical body. You feel you have sufficient territory.
If you tend to be fearful or nervous, your Root Chakra is probably under-active."
So, what are some physical/mental exercises one can do as well as lifestyle changes to help balance the 1st root chakra?
As mentioned earlier,when yogi's say "this chakra is closed," what science is really telling us is that you have overactive adrenal glands usually from a chronic stress response that has been prolonged.
In this situation, you need to reduce your body's production of cortisol and adrenaline so they don't overtax your other bodily systems and harm your immune system.
Step by Step Physical/Mental Exercises:
1) True awareness of the body: simple tasks like a brisk walk around the neighborhood, household chores like cleaning or gardening, or any other light activity that stimulates the body. The goal is light exercise both to warm you up for the next steps as well as make you conscious of the present moment.
2) Stand tall and breath naturally: Stand up, and stand tall while placing your shoulders back. Put your feet shoulder width apart in a comfortable position. This will help you breathe naturally as opposed to a hunched or crouched position.
3) Grounding: Bend your knees slightly and move your pelvis forward just a little. While keeping your body balanced and with feet planted firmly, sink your weight forward and hold. Hold for 5-10 minutes. You should feel more limber, especially at the knees, and also a little lighter with breathe feeling more natural
4) Lotus pose: This pose will take time to master, but for millennia it has been used to help increase relaxation, slow down breath, and balance the body.
For beginners, depending on flexibility, it may be very difficult or you may only be able to hold this pose for a few seconds. However, as you progress, and as your hip joints become more open and more flexible, you may be hold this pose for several minutes.
The best, and very specific step-by-step instructions I've found have been through Yoga Journal:
"Lotus Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front. Bend your right knee and bring the lower leg up into a cradle: The outer edge of the foot is notched into the crook of the left elbow, the knee is wedged into the crook of the right elbow, and the hands are clasped (if possible) outside the shin. Lift the front torso toward the inner right leg so the spine lengthens (and the lower back does not round). Rock your leg back and forth a few times, exploring the full range of movement of the hip joint.
Bend the left knee and turn the leg out. Rock your right leg far out to the right, then lock the knee tight by pressing the back of the thigh to the calf. Next swing the leg across in front of your torso, swiveling from the hip and not the knee, and nestle the outside edge of the foot into the inner left groin. Be sure to bring the right knee as close to the left as possible, and press the right heel into the left lower belly. Ideally the sole of the foot is perpendicular to the floor, not parallel.
For more Seated Poses
Now lean back slightly, pick the right leg up off the floor, and lift the left leg in front of the right. To do this hold the underside of the left shin in your hands. Carefully slide the left leg over the right, snuggling the edge of the left foot deep into the right groin. Again swivel into position from the hip joint, pressing the heel against the lower belly, and arrange the sole perpendicular to the floor. Draw the knees as close together as possible. Use the edges of the feet to press the groins toward the floor and lift through the top of the sternum. If you wish, you can place the hands palms up in jnana mudra, with the thumbs and first fingers touching.
Padmasana is the sitting asana par excellence, but it's not for everybody. Experienced students can use it as a seat for their daily pranayama or meditation, but beginners may need to use other suitable positions. In the beginning, only hold the pose for a few seconds and quickly release. Remember that Padmasana is a "two-sided pose," so be sure to work with both leg crosses each time you practice. Gradually add a few seconds each week to your pose until you can sit comfortably for a minute or so. Ideally you should work with a teacher to monitor your progress."
Natural Lifestyle Changes:
Here are some other completely natural lifestyle changes and habits to reduce chronic stress, minimize excessive production of cortisol and adrenaline, and re-balance your root chakra:
1) Getting better sleep - 7-8 hours per night is recommended
2) Increase intake of cortisol fighting foods:
- Probiotics in food such as yogurt and with soluble fiber
- Teas: especially green and black tea
- Bananas and Pears
- Dark chocolate
3) Reducing caffeine intake, especially at night close to bedtime
4) Taking cortisol fighting supplements - the most natural of these is fish oil.
5) Getting a pet - there are studies that show that pets can help you MORE during times of stress than people?
Did you know?
If you're stressed, we get it. The truth is, we all are. Stress and anxiety are sadly the "new normal" for so many of us with busy careers and busy relationships. So many of us are always on the go, and we must ALWAYS remember to take time for ourselves and decompress.
If you always feel nervous, scared and stressed - your thoughts can and will affect your body. In this situation, your adrenal glands might be overworked and eventually, that will cause you physical harm by weakening your immune system.
Break the cycle by changing your habits - physically, mentally, and spiritually by practicing the poses and changes to habits and lifestyle.
Your thoughts will change.
Your brainwave state will change.
Your hormones will change.