Spirit Bear & Baylor Bears
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Find out more info and links to course activities here.
Course: LF 1198 Intermediate Relaxation & Fitness - Fall 2016
What's your spirit animal? Click on the logo for a fun spirit animal quiz.
What does it mean to embrace your inner bear?
The symbol of the Bear has deep meanings to many Native American tribes, and is rich with symbolism as a spirit animal. Its strength and courage are universally revered across cultures. While there are other words and characteristics that are attributed to the bear, in this course, we will take the attributes of the Spirit Bear and apply them to our lives by:
- using introspection for greater self-awareness
- identifying grounding forces as a foundation for strength and confidence (physical & emotional)
- examining the importance of solitude, quiet time, rest, and time for healing
Using the knowledge gained through these practices, we are better able to:
- Stand against adversity; take action & leadership roles, and help others
How Does Spirit Bear Yoga apply to LF 1198?
Finding Balance in Life – The Spirit Bear Way
1. Encouraging Introspection
- Cultivating greater self-awareness (Chakras 1-7, Strengths Finder option)
2. Strength and confidence
A. Physical -- Identifying grounding forces as a foundation
- Yoga Practice, exercise, postural awareness
- Healthy choices – Yogic Diet
B. Emotional -- Identifying grounding forces as a foundation
- Maslow – Hierarchy of needs
- Chakras 1-3 (Root, Sacral, and Solar Plexus)
3. The importance of solitude, quiet time, rest, and time for healing
- Chakras 4-7 & Mandalas
- Yoga Sutras
Using the knowledge gained through studying the above practices, we are better able to:
- Stand against adversity; take action and leadership roles, and help others
Introduction to the Chakra System
Prana is the life force. It is not the breath, but it is brought into the body through breathing and exists within ourselves, but can be blocked because of lack of balance in our lives. According to yogic tradition, the subtle body – or energetic body is where your energy flows. This subtle body has seven key points that a vortices for energy. These are the chakras. Chakra means wheel or disk in Sanskrit. In yoga, we work to keep all these energy points “spinning” and in balance. A chakra can be spinning too quickly or slowly – causing issues in our physical bodies and mental state.
Chakras can be thought of as a blueprint for self-care and healthy living.
First Chakra – Root or Muladhara
Root chakra governs your family ties and feelings of survival (recall Maslow’s hierarchy) and belonging. Your earliest memories are stored here, including whether or not your basic needs were met. When the 1st chakra is blocked or out of balance, you can become needy, have low self-esteem, and have self-destructive behaviors. When muladhara is in balance, you feel strong, confident and can stand on your own two feet and take care of yourself.
Second Chakra - Sacral Chakra
Located in the lower abdomen, the second chakra governs the “watery” processes in the body. While the first chakra (root) is masculine and focused on self-preservation, the Sacral chakra is feminine and focused on life’s pleasures. A balanced second chakra helps you connect to others in a healthy, trusting way through deeper awareness of your emotions. Working on the energy associated with this chakra helps you see the bigger picture – to rise above your likes and dislikes and recognize all things as part of the whole. You work to become more fluid and graceful and accepting of change when balancing this chakra.
Too much energy in this chakra leads to overly emotional behavior and obsession with sensual pleasures. Aggression and manipulation can also result. Too little energy here makes you hyper-sensitive, resentful, distrusting and guilty. “Fluid” activities help you to focus on the second chakra – such as dancing, free-form writing, vinyasa yoga practice, and, more obviously, swimming. Practice “going with the flow” to enhance your sacral chakra energy!
The 3rd Chakra – Manipura – The Solar Plexus Chaka
If you have not worked with the needs and pleasures of your 1st and 2nd chakra, it is difficult to awaken Manipura. It helps to have a strong sense of grounding and a healthy rein on desire to clearly define and visualize your purpose.
The 3rd Chakra deals with your motivation and ambition. It’s also about discovery and appreciation of your unique skills. Accomplishing tasks, healthy eating and activity are all results of balance in this area. Procrastination, being judgmental, and eating disorders can result from a lack of balance in the solar plexus. Excess 3rd Chakra energy feeds workaholics and an obsession with perfectionism.
The 4th Chakra - Heart Chakra - Anahata
The heart chakra is composed of yellow and blue in equal parts. It is at the heart center where the energies of the lower chakras (when satisfied) can be transformed and integrated into a more spiritual aspect of your being. This awareness allows you to connect to something greater and deeper than yourself (explored through the energies of the upper chakras). Green is the color of growth, life and balance. Through a balance in this chakra you find a source to give and receive love in healthy, nourishing relationships.
Poses: Too much energy in the heart chakra can be balanced through forward folds. This action helps to redirect energy that can cause one to be possessive and demanding in love. The sluggish heart makes you clingy and paranoid about love; strong balancing poses and warrior poses can help. People who “lead with the head,” figuratively or literally by rounding forward in the upper body are cutting themselves off from their emotional center and sense of grounding. They think too much and feel too little, leading to shyness, loneliness, lack of compassion, and feeling sorry for oneself. Back bends can help here.
The 5th Chakra - Throat Chakra - Visuddha
The 5th chakra is about communication – not only in expressing your true self, but also about listening deeply to others. An open 5th chakra allows one to be open and honest, to say “no” when you need to and let others be heard as well. Creative expression is strong when this chakra is balanced and open. Forms of music, singing, dance, writing, and speaking are expressions of this chakra’s energy. The main challenges for this chakra are negative thinking, doubt; telling and/or believing lies. Those with an over-active throat chakra may talk too much or engage in gossip.
Poses: any that open and strengthen the throat area, such as plow, fish, and shoulder stand. Also, cobra pose and camel are good for opening the 4th and 5th chakras. The Five Tibetans are also good for bringing balance to the throat chakra.
6th Chakra- Third Eye Chakra - Ajna
The Sixth Chakra is the Third Eye Chakra. It is located right in the center of your forehead. It deals with insight, intuition and wisdom and is weakened by all forms of illusions. Physically, it is connected to the pituitary gland, head, lower brain, eyes, andupper frontal sinuses. The 6th chakra deals with imagination, visualization and intuition.
‘Knowing’ or an intuitive type of knowing is the emotion related to the 6th chakra. It is believed in yogic tradition that people with a dominant 6th chakra tend to have clairvoyant and/or telepathic abilities.
Instead of a physical exercise for the 6th chakra, we can use colors and mandalas to develop a better vision for our 3rd eye. A mandala is a sacred art form that consists of geometric shapes that are used in meditative practices. One way to use mandalas in practice is by actually coloring them. Recognizing patterns and visualizing are important 6th chakra elements associated with mandalas.
Click on the link above to learn more about the 7th Chakra
How Balanced are You?
Below are links to a few quick online quizzes to help you identify energies in which you are strong or deficient. Remember, that excess energy in an chakra can be just as detrimental to healthy balance in your life as an under-active area.
Disclaimer: these quizzes are for informational purposes only, they are not a diagnosis or official analysis of your personality, just a way to learn more about yourself.
If the chakras don't appeal to you as a way to evaluate your strengths and areas where you can grow, consider the Strengths Finder 2.0 book as a way to learn more about yourself.