Goddess yoga: Reclaim and embrace your authentic voice

Goddess yoga: Reclaim and embrace your authentic voice

I was a shy girl. I was drawn to more outgoing people but I preferred to stay silent in the background. So silent that my teachers had concerns. I didn’t have a problem, it turns out. I just preferred to observe quietly and take everything in.

In adulthood I’m still a bit socially awkward at times but I’m no longer terrified to speak to strangers. That being said, I continually find my throat chakra needing work.

It’s not just us introverts who can benefit from throat chakra work. It’s also the super chatty ones, the “over-sharers” and everyone in between. 

Signs you might need throat chakra work

  • You have difficulty expressing yourself
  • You talk too much, often to the point of annoying others
  • You’re more comfortable texting than talking to people face to face
  • You keep emotions inside — anger, sadness, joy, etc. — not sharing them with the people they’re directed toward
  • You’re not a good listener and tend to tune people out

Where is the throat chakra and why should I care?

Your throat chakra is located — you guessed it — around your throat. But chakras aren't these quarter-sized little spheres on your body and it's not just your throat. It permeates around your neck and even your shoulders.

When your throat chakra is in balance, you are able to embrace your originality. Express your authentic voice, speaking your truth. Not just hear, but listen to others with genuine interest.

When your throat chakra is in balance, you are able to embrace your originality. Express your authentic voice, speaking your truth. Not just hear, but listen to others with genuine interest.

Yeah, it's kind of a big deal

Communication is a big darn deal. 65% of mental health professionals polled cited communication problems as the most common factor that leads to divorce. And one of the traits of “successful” couples is the ability to argue in a healthy way. (Source.)

65% of mental health professionals polled cited communication problems as the most common factor that leads to divorce.
— YourTango.com

 

Not married? This applies to all relationships — including your relationship with yourself. If you can’t express your truth to your own self, how can you express it to others?

Yoga can help. Please note that it can help, with a lowercase h. But for significant chakra work you need to take it off the mat as well.

Therapy is great.
Chakra balancing/energy work is great.
Meditation is great.
Journaling is great.
Whatever helps you most is great. In fact, it's perfect. 

Yoga is like a runner's shoes. Can you run without shoes? Of course. But nice kicks sure can help make the road feel more accessible.

These asanas (postures) can help open your throat chakra so you’re more physically ready to be yourself, speak your truth and honor the truth of others with an open heart and mind. Let's start down this road with a nice pair of sneakers. 

Yoga poses to open your throat chakra

Neck stretches

This is one you can do anytime, not just on your mat.

  • Rest your right ear toward your right shoulder.
  • Gently rest your right hand on your head. Don’t pull your head down! Instead, use your hand as a gentle weight the ease into a nice stretch.
  • Hold for a few breaths before moving to the left side.

8 point pose with block

throat chakra 8 point pose

This is hands down my favorite way to open up the shoulders. And ironically, you start with your hands down. :) If you have really tight shoulders, be gentle. (I do, and it still feels great. I just take it slow.)

  • Lie on your belly with your arms perpendicular to your sides. 
  • Keep your right arm on the ground as you exhale and either bend your left elbow and rest your left palm on the ground (as I did above) or reach your left hand straight toward your right.
  • Bend your left knee and rest the sole of your foot on the floor.
  • Option the interlace fingers to find a deeper opening.
  • Option to rest your head on a block for extra support.
  • As you breathe, imagine your breath filling the space in your shoulders where the tension is residing.

Side note: This pose is actually called one-armed swastika pose I, but obviously swastika sounds horrible. It’s actually named because your body resembles one of the crosspieces of the ancient Asian symbol of good luck. But 8 point pose sounds better anyway.

Lion’s Breath

I do these in my yoga flow classes in a chair variation. It feels amazing. Looks weird. You'll get over it. Especially in a group setting when we're being weird together. Embrace the weird!

A video posted by Cara McDonald (@caramcdo) on

  • Inhale and raise your arms up overhead while bending your knees and sinking your hips back in an imaginary chair.
  • As you exhale, sweep your arms behind you with an open mouth, tongue sticking out.
  • Repeat until you feel an amazing release of all the yuck you’re holding onto — self-doubts, voices of others telling you that you can’t, anything standing in the way of you speaking your truth.

The louder the breath, the better.

P.S. I’m not even sure lion's breath in chair pose is a thing but I’m totally making it a thing because holy crap it feels good. RELEASE THAT YUCK.

Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee (Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana)

This pose is a mouthful, but it’s lovely. As part of the traditional Bikram sequence, this posture massages and invigorates your thyroid gland which is often associated with the throat chakra. As an added benefit, it also helps improve your metabolism. (I throw that in here because I feel like people like to hear that.) The key here is to tuck your chin — you’ll feel a slight choking sensation in your throat. 

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  • Stand with your feet about three feet apart — aligned heel to heel — with your front toes pointing straight forward and your back toes pointing toward the front corner of your mat (right corner for right foot, left corner for left).
  • Straighten through both legs to begin.
  • Inhale and reach your arms overhead taking a prayer grip (palms together, thumbs crossed).
  • Exhale as you hinge forward at your hips, bringing your forehead to your front knee.
    • Option to separate your hands to frame your foot, helping you with balance.
    • Option to bend your knee a little or a lot (most of us need this option) but focus on actually touching your forehead to your knee. This is key so I'll repeat it. Actually touch your forehead to your knee. Your chin will be tucked in, creating a little choking sensation on your throat.
  • To release, come back to your prayer grip and inhale to rise.

Wide leg forward fold with chest expansion

I prefer to take this posture with a strap or a towel. Tension likes to nestle into my shoulders and I feel like I can better target those areas with props. But that's me. That might not be the case for you. Try it with and without and see what feels best in your body.

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  • Start with your legs wide and feet parallel or even slightly pigeon-toed.
  • Inhale and interlace your hands behind your back (or hold a strap or towel).
  • Exhale to hinge forward.
  • Continue to breathe as you pull your arms further over your head, feeling a nice opening in your shoulders.

Camel (Ustrasana)

Oh, camel pose. I love you. This is the first pose that made me weep and began my love for backbends. This is a deep backbend, so make sure you’re warm before getting into it.

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  • Start by standing on your knees (hip distance apart or wider).
  • Place your hands on your low back, fingertips pointing down (or pointing up for a wrist stretch).
  • Inhale to gaze up. You can stay right here if this feels good, or...
  • ... exhale as you bend your back, leading with your heart.
  • If you feel good, you have the option to drop your hands to your heels.
  • To release, support your low back (important!) as you slowly make your way back up.
  • (Also important!) Sit on your heels and rest your hands, palms facing up, on your knees. This will help you neutralize your spine after an intense backbend and the mudra allows you to be open to receiving energy. Stay here a few breaths and accept and embrace any emotions you may be feeling. Let your truth flow through you. Crying is more than OK. 😉

Wheel (Urdva dhanurasana)

Again, make sure you’re warm! This is also a deep backbend and requires arm strength. It feels amazing but if you have back issues, it won’t feel so hot. Skip it.

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  • Start lying on your back with your knees bent, heels by your glutes.
  • Bring your hands above your shoulders, palms faced down, fingertips toward your shoulders.
  • Press firmly into your heels and your hands to push yourself up to your wheel pose.
  • Option to walk your hands and feet closer together to find a deeper backbend.
  • When you’re ready to release, slowly (slowly!) lower yourself down, tucking your chin into your chest. I like to bring my feet wide on the mat, knees bent, and windshield wiper my legs side to side to release after this one.

Fish (Matsyasana)

I’ve only recently started incorporating fish pose in my practice on the reg. I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long. It’s awesome. And it’s simple.

  • Start lying on your back with your knees bent, heels by your glutes.
  • Inhale and lift your pelvis slightly to slide your hands, palms facing down, below your butt. Then lower to rest your butt on the backs of your hands.
  • Inhale and press your forearms and elbows into the floor. Lift your upper torso and head away from the floor.
  • Release your head back onto the floor. (Important: Little to no weight on your head!)
  • Option to straighten your legs, keeping them engaged by flexing your feet.

Plow (Halasana)

I'm not a farmer but I love me some plow. This can be a controversial pose because it can be hard on your spine. But gosh darn it feels good. I like to end my practice with it. To keep your spine happy, start in a supported shoulder stand using blankets, like this. BTW isn't my friend Fabi (below) gorgeous?

  • Lie on your back with your palms facing down beside you.
  • Inhale as you lift your feet up to a 90 degree angle.
  • Rest your hands on your hips/lower back for support.
  • Continue lifting until you can rest your feet above your head.
  • Press your toes into the mat and energetically press into your heels.
  • Option to remove your hands from your low back and either lower them to the mat or interlace fingers underneath you.
  • To release, slowly (think like a sloth!) place your hands on your low back and roll down vertebra by vertebra.
     

Move. Breathe. Speak. Express your truth to the world. Your voice matters and can change the world. But not if you keep it silenced.

(via)

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