Perhaps it’s because the hormones are now doing something different again. Whatever - Yoga has the answer. My style is firmly embedded in Muladhara Chakra, in which alignment, Mula bandha and attention to physical detail are important, as the physical body is the vessel in which the more subtle bodies dwell.
Then there’s the Svadhisthana Chakra, which likes to flow, like water, and which needs to be contained by the earth. This is the Creativity which is born every day.
Manipura is the place where we respect ourselves enough to take our place in society, make ourselves known for who and what we are, whatever the consequences. This requires courage. Uddiyana Bandha and Nauli are useful techniques here, as they help rouse the great bird of Prana and let it fly upwards. Well, what do we want? To keep the bird in a cage? Or?
Anahata is the easiest and hardest of the chakras to understand. Easiest because the symbol for a heart is everywhere and the desire for love and to be loved is universal - we assume. To have an open heart is to be generous and open, and who could object? Well, it’s not so simple ... the heart is a place where we store the junk we can’t quite let go of but don’t really have a use for either ... an open heart often leads to heart disease. The thoracic spine, shoulders and neck are casualties of modern lifestyle (too much time driving or at a computer) and Yoga practice to gently release these areas is very liberating. After all, why free the bird of Prana it it’s just going to fly up into the cage of the heart, clogged with rusty old candle-holders?
Yet the air moves freely between the bars: pranic awareness and Pranayama are integral to all posture work. When we work with the pranic centre, the Hridaya, we glide seamlessly into another way of being, where there are no barriers. Sometimes this is scary and even downright dangerous, and this is why the Hatha Yoga Pradipika warns that breath is more powerful than lions, elephants and tigers. Taming those wild beasts takes great patience, sensitivity and caution. By sensitising the asanas to the breath, we discover the Pranamayakosha, the pranic body. Through this we begin to understand the flow of Prana, and how it can be controlled by the locks of Mudras and Bandhas. The tiger is set free and the heart becomes light.
Vishuddhi is where we try to talk when perhaps we’d communicate more by listening. Or vice versa. Awareness of the throat space and the area around it - from the shoulders to the jaw - greatly assists communication between the head and the body, helping to eliminate, eventually, the greatest misunderstanding of all - that they are separate. Recognition of the part the throat and vocal chords play in Yoga practice leads to a fuller sense of integration, greater control of Jalandhara Bandha and thus more efficient conservation of Prana. Working with sound and mantra in my personal practice of asanas is helping to break down some cultural blocks, though, being English, there is perhaps a way to go ... all the way through space, through the wormholes of the past, into the canyons of the future and back to the moment - in a breath.
Ajna is the place at the centre of the head where the divine marriage of opposites takes place. Inside, outside; head, body; male, female; Shiva, Shakti; night, day; me, you. It’s also the place where the greatest opportunity for misappropriation of power arises: I do this pose better than anyone else in the class! I’ve read more Upanishads than anyone else in the UK! I’ve been to more Yoga ashrams than anyone in India! I’ve been on the cover of Time magazine doing the Scorpion! So we have to keep a close watch on the mind. Patanjali is helpful, and Buddhist meditation techniques are practical. Each person will find a philosophy which speaks to them.
About Sahasrara, they say in India, we do not speak. Sahasrara is our connection with the cosmic divine. It is an experience beyond words. It laughs happily at our preoccupations with which Yoga system is better than that, with who has the leanest stomach muscles, who can hold Parsvakonasana longer than who, and who is the most `spiritual’.
In my own practice the chakras are there as points of meditation, containing the elements which are the building blocks to understanding the whole. However, for the convenience of the brand-orientated world in which we live: if ‘my’ Yoga were a tree, it would be a rowan - the mountain ash.