What 6 Months Of Chakra-Balancing Yoga Did For My Career
"There's this new yoga class I want to try,' my ultra-athletic friend Teagan said carefully. "It's a little...hippy-ish, but what could it hurt? Want to go with me?"
Teagan looked up at me from beneath her bangs hopefully. The rest of her hair was slicked back with sweat, and a constellation of sweat patches formed on the front of her T-shirt. Teagan's the kind of person who runs races through swamps for an adrenaline hit. She thinks CrossFit is fun.
I could already imagine the type of "yoga" Teagan would lure me into. But when she explained she'd been suffering from migraines and neck pain from her usual exercise go-to's and was looking for a gentler workout, I decided to check it out. After all, I'd been stagnant with my own exercise routine, among other things, for a while.
The class turned out to be chakra-balancing yoga, and it ultimately made me switch out my second Sunday-morning espresso for a yoga mat.
What "chakra-balancing yoga" looks like in practice.
The studio she brought me to, Starseed Yoga, didn't look like anything special from the outside, but it was a true delight. There was an echo of essential oils lingering in the air, strings of light bulbs dipping from the ceiling rafters, casting buttery light onto the candles and crystals lining the altar at the front of the room. The instructor, Léah, was just as warm and welcoming. In a single session, she taught me more about mind-body alignment and its effects on all areas of my life—particularly my career—than I'd learned through years of studying on my own. (Although each class is different, the cadence is the same: It starts with grounding flows that focus on the lower three chakras and then works upward.)
How this yoga flow translated to my life off the mat.
First, I tended to my foundation.
The first half of chakra yoga is always dedicated to the lower three chakras, or the root, sacral, and solar plexus. This is where most people tend to hold on to fear, trauma, or anger, and that clogged energy tends to show up in the very foundation of our bodies—our bones, joints, tissues, and vital organs. To balance these chakras, we worked through demanding planks, hip-openers, and flows that focused our attention on our lower belly (including lots of ab work...ugh).
Slowly, my core got stronger and those hip-openers were no longer excruciating.
As it happens within our practice, so happens in our lives. Over time, the flexibility and sense of grounding I brought to my own work as a writer and businesswoman increased, and the nature of my work took an unexpected turn. I found myself suddenly nimble enough to ditch a novel I'd been working on for months and pursue a nonfiction book proposal instead.
Then, I moved on to find my voice.
After all that lower-body work, the class moved into heart and throat openers. I pushed my chest toward the ceiling in camel pose and bridges of varying intensity. I stretched my throat toward those dangling light bulbs in fish pose while I pushed air from the back of my throat.
About three months into this chakra-balancing practice, I stalled on the book proposal and took a break from essay writing. At first, I couldn't figure out where all my newfound mojo had gone, but then it hit me: My body was no longer going to allow me to work out of alignment with my authentic self. While writing for publication had been a great introductory experience, I realized I also needed to be working on my own content—the books, guides, and marketing materials that drive my writing retreat business. To do that work of my heart, I'd have to use my voice to set some clear boundaries.
All that throat-chakra balancing helped: I raised my rates at my staff-writing job and for freelance clients to communicate that my time and expertise is valuable to me. And you know what? When I raised my prices, my time and expertise was more valuable to my clients, too.
Practicing these skills in class has helped me become a happier, more efficient entrepreneur.
Each class ends with an extended meditation session. The lights are dimmed, the music dips, and the instructors gently massage the essential oil of the day into each student's temples and neck. In some sessions, an instructor may suggest an affirmation to meditate on, and in others we sit in silence. The class always ends with a unifying chant and well wishes for the rest of the day.
To be honest, this portion of the class is still tough for me. I like to be always doing something. Listening and receiving aren't my strongest skill set. That said, I've noticed how practicing these skills in class has helped me become a happier, more efficient entrepreneur. I pay careful attention to my body, my moods, and my mental clarity whenever I start a new project—whether it's for myself or someone else. I try to tune into my personal energy and follow it, even if that means writing a scene out of order or working on something totally different for the day. I'm not perfect at it, but I'm definitely more satisfied when I work this way.
So the big question: Will I keep going?
The answer: Absolutely.
On top of a career shift, balancing my chakras through movement has helped me stay calm and confident, even when faced with the toughest situations. While my friend Teagan wasn't wrong when she asked, "What could it hurt?" the real question was: What could it change?
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