Passion and Play
Last week we learned about the 1st Chakra, the Root Chakra, which is a single point, a base, a foundation. By introducing the 2nd Chakra, the Sacral Chakra, we now have two points - and a line - which creates the possibility of dualities. (“Chakra Yoga” by Anodea Judith) Yoga works consciously with these polarities -- self and other, mind and body, male and female, up and down, expansion and contraction. These polarities can move towards each other, or apart. For example, we often root down through our heels, while reaching up to the sky. We often contract one part of our body, while we expand another. By using these polarities we make our practice more dynamic and direct the flow of Prana throughout our body.
Due to the introduction of a second point, it only makes sense that it is the 2nd Chakra where we begin to explore “relationship.” This includes our relationships to people and our sexuality, but also our relationships to money and work. The Sacral Chakra is located 3 inches below the navel, and includes the reproductive organs, the hips, the sacrum and the lower abs. It governs when you give “birth” to anything - this includes a child, a new idea or your next creative project.
Sexual energy encompasses more than you might think! It can be in relationship to another person, but it also exists in all of nature’s creations! It is the energy of creation itself. “Seduction” has come to mean this act of luring someone in… to fulfill a need or make an acquisition. Athena Perrakis, Ph.D., redefines “seduction” as honoring the value of what you have to offer and sharing it from a place of deeply felt desire for connection. This new outlook takes away pressure to control the outcome and keeps us connected to source as we express the innate sensuality of the Sacral Chakra. (“The Ultimate Guide to Chakras” by Athena Perrakis, Ph.D.) It is easy to see why sexuality, sensuality and creativity are linked. There is the obvious connection of birthing a child or birthing a creative project. But also that both of these activities are tied to our senses, to living a juicy life.
In response to people who think they aren’t that creative, Brene Brown shared the result of her research on creativity. She asserts there is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. She says unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. “It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.” If we want to express our latent creativity, it requires us to be vulnerable… to swim in the waters of the Sacral Chakra… but it is our path to making meaning… to finding our unique contribution to the world. Creative work encompasses so many things! You can cook, write, draw, paint, collage, knit, take pictures, decorate, dance, sing or garden. Creative projects are a great way to get connected to our Sacral Chakra. Writer William Plomer described creativity as “the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” This ties in nicely to the idea of the sacral chakra as the chakra of polarities.
The Sacral Chakra is also instrumental in processing emotion, which is why we often experience rushes of emotion when working with hip opening exercises and forward folds. This Chakra is fluid, and governed by the Water element. “Emotions are stored in your body. When you repress emotion, you restrict the body’s natural movements-- you become rigid, the opposite of the 2nd chakra’s watery flow. Therefore developing flexibility in your body may require willingness to feel old emotions that are stored in your body.” (“Chakra Yoga” by Anodea Judith) To move from earth (1st Chakra) to water (2nd Chakra), or from solid to liquid, some melting is required. In your physical practice, once you work your way into a posture and find your alignment, then you can soften into the posture. This softening is the water element at work, and can provide an opportunity to practice softening into your life.
Underlying our sexuality, our creativity and our emotion, are our longings-- our needs and our desires. The Sacral Chakra emcompasses our relationship to pleasure. This topic seems so simple, but it is complicated for many in our culture. We get messages that it is all about our pleasure… so buy the next shiny thing! So many are always seeking pleasure, through food and substances and acquisitions… or at least avoiding pain. At the same time, our puritanical roots encourage self-sacrifice and leave us feeling that pleasure is selfish and undeserved. So part of the second chakra is creating a healthy relationship with pleasure, by cultivating it in your practice. We can explore the edges of our physical practice, where we stretch, creating space in our body and growth, but not going so far as to have painful sensations. We can learn to honor what we need on our mat on any given day, and then apply that to our lives off our mats.
When the Sacral Chakra is out of balance, you may have feelings of being deflated, ashamed, forgotten, invisible… like being punched just below your belly. Issues arise around a loss of control or being controlled by others (addiction, rape, betrayal, financial loss). These experiences are tied to the emotions of jealousy, shame, guilt, and anger. When this Chakra is overactive, you may find yourself over-indulging your senses-- perhaps overeating or engaging in addictive behavior. If it is deficient, you may feel restless or lack creative inspiration. You may feel powerless or not in control, which may lead to lack of boundaries and self-respect in relationships. Imbalance in either way produces drama with others.
When the Sacral Chakra is balanced, you have a good handle on your finances and your physical self. You enter relationships from a centered, empowered place, with good boundaries. You forgive and accept yourself and others. You are self-confident, yet empathetic. You are content with what you have. You are able to desire something without attachment to the outcome, and you have the energy to make things happen. Once you do make things happen, you want them to benefit others as well!
As we discovered with the Root Chakra, balancing the Chakras is actually fun! Since Water is the element of the Sacral Chakra, we can go swimming, take long baths or go hot-tubbing! Carve out time for creative pursuits-- maybe even schedule time each day specifically for these projects. You will be more inspired if you surround yourself with creative people. You could join a class! I highly recommend The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron if you’re looking to jumpstart your creativity but don’t know where to begin, or have the mistaken belief that you don’t have any. Orange is the color of the Chakra, so put on some orange lipstick or socks!
Another activity that is closely aligned to our creativity and our Sacral Chakra is Play! Play has been shown to improve our health and well-being. (Dr. Stuart Brown, psychiatrist, founder of National Institute of Play) What is Play? It is purposeless activity. We play for the sake of play-- just because it's fun. Brene Brown points out that in our culture, our self-worth is tied to our productivity or income. Spending time doing purposeless activities is rare. “In fact, for many of us it sounds like an anxiety attack waiting to happen. We’ve got so much to do and so little time to do it that the idea of spending time doing anything unrelated to the to-do list actually creates stress. We convince ourselves that playing is a waste of time. We even convince ourselves that sleeping is a terrible use of our time.” So remember that play and creativity and sensuality are the stuff that makes life full and colorful. It might take a little re-training, but just carve out some time to begin exploring and show the universe that you prioritize pleasure and creativity in your life.
Closely tied to play, is laughter, song and dance. (Brene Brown, Gifts of Imperfection). I am sure you can think of a time when you turned to music or movement when you were happy, but we also turn to it when we are sad! Laughter, music and movement are the language of emotion and connection-- they remind us that we are not alone. So crank up the tunes and find the perfect soundtrack to accompany you on your journey today.
Having said that orange is the color of the Sacral Chakra, it is no wonder the gemstones of this Chakra are often orange: peach moonstone, carnelian, goldstone, orange calcite, tangerine quartz and sunstone. Consider working with these stones at sunset, when the sky turns orange as well. You can lay down and place the gemstones on your lower abdomen in a circle or a line and visualize an orange ray of light coming down from the sun, charging them and infusing them with universal wisdom about passion and connection. The Essential Oils and Herbs of this Chakra are blood orange, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, tangerine, vanilla and ylang ylang. Perhaps you can incorporate some of the scents into your hot bath or your cooking! (“The Ultimate Guide to the Chakras” by Athena Perrakis, Ph.D.) On our yoga mat, we can awaken the Sacral Chakra with hip openers like half-pigeon, supta baddha konasana, prone frog, frog, splits, happy baby and warrior 2. If we want to quiet this chakra, try forward folds of any kind.
Remember, our energy ebbs and flows, as does the balance between our Chakras. So use these tools fluidly to adjust as you go throughout your days and weeks. Have fun exploring your polarities, and where you sit on the spectrum between them… and then find fun, playful ways to bring balance to your life. Expand your definition of “passion” to include all the things that make you come alive -- and then follow your bliss!
* (For further reading, check out “Chakra Yoga” by Anodea Judith, “The Ultimate Guide to Chakras” by Athena Perrakis, Ph.D., “Chakra Yoga” by Anodea Judith, “The Yoga Book: A Practical Guide of Self-Realization” by Stephen Sturgess and “The Yoga Mind” by Rina Jakubowicz. “Gifts of Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. “The Artist's Way” by Julie Cameron. Much of the content of this essay was taken from or inspired by these insightful works.)