I had the pleasure of meeting Laura at a workshop where she shared some of her 20 years of teaching & coaching experience. Laura’s dedication as a Yoga Educator, Life Coach, and Author, is evident. She has developed and taught 200-hour and 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training programs, and has written two yoga books, Awaken to Joy and Yoga Essentials: (co-written with Jill Barber).
Laura has created numerous programs using coaching and yoga to inspire people to their own greatness and her creativity and success in blending yoga and life coaching is the perfect addition to our Yoga Life community. I know you are going to love Laura’s insights and yoga exercises for increasing your personal power for positive change. Be sure to check out Laura’s full bio link at the end of the article. Enjoy!
Namaste and smiles to you,
Personal Power to Create Change in Your Life
Ever want to change and find it hard to do so, wishing you had more will power? Or want to do something and just can’t seem to get yourself to do it?
On the other hand, have you ever felt yourself trying to control or dominate someone? Know you are right and need to be sure everyone else agrees with you?
Then you have wrestled with Personal Power!
Balanced personal power is the ability to gracefully and effortlessly say, “No” when it is time to move away from something that no longer serves you such as a habit, thought pattern, relationship, or job as well as the ability to say, “Yes” when it is time to move into a new challenge.
When you have too little personal power, you don’t fully appreciate your own value as a person in the world. You may find yourself apologizing for everything you do, brushing off compliments and expressions of gratitude with a “It is no big deal” feeling, having difficulty accepting gifts from people when you do not have one with which to reciprocate.
On the other hand, too much personal power shows up primarily as control and dominancy over others. Think of it as forcing your way through life with a feeling that you and your gifts are more important than others.
Your sense of personal power resides in your solar plexus, your Third Chakra, Manipura. A balanced sense of personal power, creates a sense of ease and joy about yourself. You know your value as soul and as a citizen of the world and honor your gifts. At the same time you can fully honor and cherish others as well. When you truly honor others, truths can be spoken without feelings being hurt.
Whether your third chakra is deficient or excessive, our goal is to get the energy moving through the chakra and to do so is the same. Yoga is the perfect way to build balanced personal power, whether you have an under- or overly-developed sense of your self-importance.
Let’s head to the mat!
A good foundation is where to start for building any of the chakras, but especially the Third Chakra when you are learning to stand strong on your own two feet. I recommend two exercises:
Foot Massage: I know what you are thinking. “What? Massage my foot? What does that have to do with me feeling stronger?” Stick with me. In order for you to be stronger, to stand up straighter and “grow” you need a strong foundation. The stronger your foundation, the higher you can grow. Plus, our feet become less malleable the older we become from improper shoes, and many other issues that are beyond the scope of this article. The massage will also open up your feet to give you a stronger energetic connection with the ground. Even students of yoga who have practiced for years benefit from a foot massage.
- Rotate the Toes: Start with one foot. Lace the fingers of your opposite hand through the toes. If your toes are particularly tight, just put your fingertips through. As shown in the photo, wrap your fingers to the top of your foot and hold tight. Use your other hand to grasp across the arch of your foot. Use the hold on the arch to keep your ankle silent. The movement you are creating is solely in the base of the toes. Rotate the toes, feeling movement, if possible, in the bones that lead up to the toes. Relax your shoulders and your jaw. Keep breathing. This one can be intense! Rotate for a minute and then change direction.
- Stroke the Foot: Place your thumbs on the bottom of your foot at your heal. Press firmly on the heel and stroke down the foot to your toes. Stroke 4-5 times.
- Squeeze the Heal: Grab the heel from the bottom. Squeeze and pull your hand off the back of the heel.
- When you finish one foot, compare your feet. I am fascinated by the difference. The color is different, the feel of the foot and the quality of the entire leg! Now do the other foot.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Tadasana truly represents how you show up in the world. Is your Tadasana collapsed (a feeling of giving up)? Propped (trying to force things to happen?) With this series, let’s build a truly strong Tadasana from the ground up.
- Begin by making your feet as parallel as you can make them. If you normally turn your toes out or in, forcing your feet to parallel can cause discomfort in the knees. Keep ease in the knees by making the feet as parallel as you can make them without force.
- Take the feet so they are sit bone distance apart. While each yoga lineage spaces the feet differently, for our purposes, we want some space between the feet. Tadasana is a balance pose. (Try it with your eyes closed and you will understand!) Since we are creating an energy of strength and stability with this series, it is more helpful to separate them a bit. Aligning them with the sit bones creates a strong energy line in the legs.
- Now root through the feet. Make sure your weight is balanced between the right and left foot, front and back, and the inner and outer edges of the feet.
- To snuggle the feet even more deeply into the floor, lift the toes. Stretch out the soles of the feet by walking the balls of the feet away from the heels just a bit. You will move maybe a millimeter. It is a very important millimeter.
- Keeping the toes up, find the inner edge of the ball of the big toe. Stick it hard down on the sticky mat and broaden the ball of your foot. Then set your toes down one at a time.
- Feel the difference?
Ground Your Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Let’s make it stronger! To firm up our Tadasana, we need to engage our inner thighs. (For most of us, they are weak and not engaged, causing our core to sink.)
- Add a Yoga block between your thighs in Tadasana. (If you don’t have a Yoga block, use a book or anything that makes you have to contract your inner thighs to hold it in place.)
- Reengage the feet. Feel the thighs engage on the block. (Extra Credit: Are your inner thighs contracting equally? Are the front and back contracting equally?)
- Now draw up in the belly slightly. The core strength actually begins with the inner thighs. If the inner thighs are “droopy”, you can’t engage the core effectively.
- Use the strength from below to “allow” the heart to open. When the lower body is strong, the heart opens effortlessly.
- What a strong and powerful Tadasana!
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose): Now, move into another strength pose, Virabhadrasana II. This pose is perfect for building strength and courage, especially if
you truly engage through the Third Chakra in the pose:
- From Tadasana, separate your feet about 4 feet apart. Feel centered and grounded here. Grow from the feet as you did in Tadasana. Lift the arms from the strength of your feet.
- Engage the abdominals to keep the shoulders perfectly square as you turn your left foot in about 30 degrees and your right foot out ninety degrees so the heal of the front foot aligns with the arch of the back foot.
- Keep the abs engaged (the Third Chakra) as you hold the pose.
- Bend your right knee so it is at a right angle to the floor. Be sure you can see your big toe inside your knee.
- Gaze out over your the fingertips of your right hand.
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose): Let’s take the same abdominal work into another Warrior pose, Virabhadrasana I. I do this pose slightly differently than most people. It will more deeply engage the Third Chakra, create more of a flow through the pose, and help build more power. Try it and see what you think:
- From Tadasana, separate your feet about 4 feet apart. Feel centered and grounded here. Grow from the feet as you did in Tadasana.
- Turn the left foot in slightly and the right foot out ninety degrees. Align the heals with each other.
- Allow your hips to be angled (do not bring them around to square to your right). The hips will be about 45 degrees from the body.
- Lift the arms from the strength of your feet. Feel your feet press down as the arms go up. Feel yourself being drawn in two directions at the same time.
- Take a breath in and as you exhale, turn the shoulders to the right as you bend the right knee and move into the pose.
- Engage the abdominals to keep the shoulders perfectly square even though your hips are not.
- Keep the abs engaged (the Third Chakra) as you hold the pose. You are drawing the abdominal in, up and around. They are very busy! You might enjoy taking the right hand down and “sweeping” it across your solar plexus from left to right. I always find I come around more and engage more completely when I do it.
When you do this series regularly, your personal strength will balance out. You will begin to feel more confident and be able to speak up for yourself in a more graceful, loving and effortless way. The true gift is gaining power over our ego, our monkey mind, so we can create true change in our lives.
Check out Laura’s full bio at: Laura Erdman-Luntz