13 March 2016

Manipura chakra, mushrooms and more....

Well here we are again, continuing our journey through the chakras. That week went by so fast! 

Chakra number 3 is also known as Manipura or the Solar Plexus chakra.  Located at the solar plexus, between the navel and the base of the breastbone, it connects us to our ego, will and personal power. Physically this chakra is connected to the pancreas which regulates blood sugar metabolism and produces digestive enzymes. Manipura chakra has a strong association with stress, especially if caused by a loss of power or control (ie losing a job).  When this chakra is out of balance we lack confidence, and can feel depressed and confused. When in balance, Manipura chakra brings us harmony and confidence and allows us to feel comfortable with the Self and with others. 

The associated colour is yellow, the mantra is Yam and the affirmation is:

"I do enough. I am enough. I accept myself and express my identity without imposing my will on others. I live with integrity and harmony". 

Questions and answers about unfamiliar words and terminology in yoga.....

The world of yoga is full of strange and unfamiliar words and phrases. You might have heard some of them in your yoga class but be unsure of their meaning, so I thought I'd shed a little light on some of the terminology and the reasons why, when we practice yoga, we do things a certain way. If there's something you're curious about, please do ask me in the comments below and I'll endeavour to provide an answer.

Sanskrit is an ancient Indian language - one of the oldest on Earth, pre-dating Greek and Latin. Many of the classical yoga texts are written in Sanskrit and all of the yoga poses you practice have a Sanskrit name as well as an English one. Although it is no longer a spoken language in India and tends to be used only in the written form, it is still used in the yoga world. But why is that? What purpose does it serve? 

Using the Sanskrit words invites us to be part of the tradition of yoga - we feel that we are connected to it's roots in an authentic way and that yoga hasn't been changed to suit us. As our practice deepens we become interested in all parts of yoga, realising it is so much more than just an exercise class. In the ancient Vedic tradition, the belief was that the names of the poses had a sound quality to them too - an energy, a spiritual invocation - and that the names and the poses themselves were united, not separate.

Here are a few translations of some common Sanskrit words that you might hear in class:

Asana - the physical postures we do. 
Pranayama - the breathing practices - prana = life-force energy + ayam = expansion/extension. 
Shala - means 'house' or 'home' in Sanskrit. A yoga studio might also be called a Shala - a home of yoga. 
Sangha - means 'company' or 'community' - often used to describe the gathering of those who come together for a yoga or meditation class.
Surya - the sun. Namaskar - Salutations = Sun Salutations
Namaste - Salutations (greetings) to you/I bow to you.

I'll share some more Sanskrit words and their meanings over the coming weeks - there's always something new to learn in yoga. 

One question that has come up recently is 'what is a vinyasa?'. It's a good questions as, not only do you hear that word a lot in class (especially if you do Ashtanga yoga*) but there is also a type of yoga called Vinyasa Flow Yoga too.

A vinyasa is a sequence of movements, synchronised with the breath, used to transition between yoga postures. It translates literally as "to place in a special way". In recent times, with the popularity of Vinyasa Flow classes, the term has come to refer to one particular sequence, most often found in Sun Salutations: plank, to plank with bent elbows (Chaturanga), to Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), to Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). 

This is the Sanskrit writing for the word 'vinyasa':


* see a previous post here if you want to know more about the different types of yoga.

Caprese Stuffed Mushrooms

These are, of course, healthy, quick and easy to make (I just don't do complicated cooking!). They are great if you are following a paleo diet as there are good fats and no carbs involved.


Garlic butter:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley (I used dried mixed herbs as I didn't have fresh)
  • 4 large Portobello Mushrooms, stem removed, wiped and dried with a paper towel
  • 1 packet of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • fresh basil, shredded to garnish
  • Balsamic vinegar 

  • Preheat the grill (just so you know, the recipe said to do this under the grill but I've done mushrooms in the oven in the past).
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan with the garlic.  Dunk the mushrooms in the melted garlic butter and place them on a baking tray.
  • Fill each mushroom with the mozzarella slices and the tomatoes.
  • Grill until the mushrooms are soft, and the cheese has melted and is golden in colour (about 8-10 minutes).
  • To serve, top with the basil and drizzle with the Balsamic vinegar.

My slightly over-cooked mushrooms nevertheless tasted good

In the garden....

I've been enjoying the sunshine this weekend. Once the fog burned off it really felt like spring and I've been out in the garden continuing the big tidy up.

Work in progress - can you spot my helper?
Today I've been digging up Forget-Me-Nots. They self-seed all over the place but I love them so much I'm happy to spend some time thinning them and moving them about rather than be without them. They make good ground cover when there's not much else in flower and their little blue flowers are so pretty. Last autumn I bought lots of wallflowers and overwintered them in pots against a wall at the back of the house. They're just about to flower so, after weeding and clearing the border, I'm planting them alongside the Forget-Me-Nots. Yellow and blue will look lovely.

I'm still cutting back all the dead stems of the perennial plants and weeding as I go, and I'm also pruning the Buddleia bushes too. These shrubs, also known as Butterfly Bush because butterflies love their nectar so much, will produce flowers on the new growth that grows this spring and early summer. They need pruning because the flowers are at the end of each stem and, if they are allowed to grow really tall, they will be so high up you won't really see them. So prune them now and you'll get lots of beautiful sweet smelling purple flowers to share with the butterflies or bring into the house in the summer. 

They can take a really good hard prune - as a general rule, cut back to the second set of leaves from the base of the plant.

Before ....

..... and after

Buddleia and Calendula from my summer garden

This week's musical offering is a relaxing track I've been playing during Savasana. It's called Seeing Stars by Leo Abrahams.

Have a good week... and enjoy your yoga :-)

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