By Jennifer Carter Avgerinos
Color can be a powerful thing for invoking memory or changing mood. Think about all of the vivid colors around us in nature this summer – the vibrant reds of roses or the brilliant green of freshly cut grass. Color can soothe the senses and have a healing effect on the body. Color therapy, also known as Chromotherapy, is the principle that certain colors are infused with healing powers. The seven colors of the rainbow improve balance and healing in the mind and body. This form of therapy also works in conjunction with Hydrotherapy (water) and Aromatherapy (scent) to enhance the healing effect. Color plays a significant role in how people respond to time spent in a particular space. For example, the coloring of walls and fabrics for a space affect a person’s response to that room. Often, this response to color directly correlates with a person’s comfort and well-being.
In the limited research available, Chromotherapy studies have shown that color can actually help heal the body. In a 2011 article published in Discover Magazine, it looks like color therapy might be useful in the fight against diabetes for example. According to a study out of Zurich, Switzerland, burst of blue light may be helpful to trigger a genetic response to make more insulin.
The Code of Color
Red raises blood temperature and stimulates circulation. Red is used to care for people with anemia, fatigue, paralysis and exhaustion.
Blue is soothing. It is used for cases of inflammatory conditions, burns, and bruises. It also helps with eczema, psoriasis, rashes and sores. In addition, blue helps alleviate tension, stress and problems with the immune system. It is believed to relieve insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, migraines and skin irritation.
Yellow is used to aid in digestion and liver function. Yellow is thought to have decongestant and antibacterial properties that act as a cleanser for the body. It has been known to help relieve rheumatism and arthritis.
Green creates balance and harmony within the body. It is especially good for heart and blood problems. It is known to influence the human cell structure and muscles.
Orange gives vitality to the body and is associated with the kidneys, urinary tract, and reproductive organs.
Purple is associated with the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. It helps with head congestion and sinuses and is known to calm the nervous system.
At times color therapy has been known to generate an overwhelming emotional response in individuals. It is important to refrain from overdoing spaces with too much color. Whether color is used to encourage healing or to enhance use of a space, color therapy can be exceptionally powerful.
If you've ever had a really great foot massage, or any foot massage for that matter you know just how healing it can be. Kids can also benefit from the healing touch of foot massage.
When the feet are massaged, anxiety is eliminated and this brings about a deep state of relaxation. One important point that is situated on both feet is the solar plexus reflex. The solar plexus is sort of a little warehouse where all your stress is stored. When the solar plexus point is pressed on, stress is released and the body is renewed.
Foot massage is restorative in that it gives the receiver energy. When the foot is rubbed and palpated, all the elements of a foot massage come together to bring energy to the body. According to theories of reflexology, foot massage releases any blockages that can hold back energy that should be flowing through the body freely.
I like to incorporate a short foot massage at the end of every kids yoga class. In last night's class, three year old Emmy couldn't get enough foot massaging.. After her turn was complete, she followed me around the circle sticking her tiny little feet up at me asking for me to keep rubbing. He parents were laughing as they looked on..
Some of the benefits are:
1. Understand that 5 minutes of daily massage is a long time for most
2. Establish massage as part of the bedtime routine to help your child
3. Always ask your child if he or she wants a massage, demonstrating
your respect for your child's right to say "no" to touch.
Tips & Warnings:
If you continue to make massage a part of a child's routine, he or she may return the favor one day and massage your weary parental shoulders. Not a bad family routine!
Life is funny isn't it? It often doesn't work out the way we intend it to. We make our plans, and the universe laughs..
I recently watched a lovely movie called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - a film about British retirees who travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. One of the best quotes from the move is "Everything will be all right in the end. So if it is not all right, then it is not yet the end". I love that! This single sentence gave me hope.
But sometimes when things don't go our way, we wall ourselves off from the world a bit (perhaps unintentionally). If the heart chakra is closed down, the very core of us suffers. Our breathing is shallow, slowing down our metabolism and our physical energy. Blocked at the center, we feel divided between mind and body. We pull in to ourselves, withdraw, and become a closed system.
When the heart chakra is open, we feel deeply. Love, compassion, centeredness and warmth towards others are all encouraged by an open heart center. When these feeling are intensified through meditation on heart center, we may experience any number of sensations, from ecstatic bliss to tears of joy. We might even shed a tear of sorrow as old hurts are released and are replaced with feelings of love and self acceptance.
Consider this for a moment.. Music is a language of emotion, and it can have a very powerful effect on the way we feel. Music almost always has the power to bring me out of a funk and back into the world.
In one of those rare and spontaneous gifts from the universe, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with, local artist and Producer Paul Avgerinos. He gifted me with a couple of his CD's - among them his latest album Lovers (available on ITunes and Amazon) and have practically been listening to it non-stop. What better way to open your heart than by listening to beautiful music!
"Awakening to who we really are is at the heart of yoga. . . .Yoga offers a path to this underlying field of being, which is the source of creativity, fulfillment, and abundance.” ~David Simon
September is National Yoga Month, and we are focusing on using yoga as our vehicle to journey within and expand ourselves with new experiences. Cultivating a daily yoga practice allows us to explore our inner world every time we step on the mat, creating a deeper connection with our bodies as well as with our mind and spirit. Yoga puts us in touch with our essential nature. As the spiritual Law of Pure Potentiality states, our true self is pure awareness and unbounded potential.
By cultivating body-centered restful awareness during yoga class, we are able to access this field of pure potentiality. By being mindful of our breath with each movement, we turn our attention to the stillness and silence within . . . opening to expanded layers of our deepest self.
The Law of Pure Potentiality resonates with the seventh chakra, located at the crown of our head. Learn more about chakras here. One of the ways to enliven the seventh chakra is by practicing headstands. Doing a headstand activates our potential to grow into something new or to explore something fresh.
Watch the following video for inspiration.
*Not all exercise is suitable for everyone and this or any exercise program may result in injury. Consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program. The Chopra Center for Wellbeing disclaims any liability and assumes no responsibility for injuries suffered while practicing the techniques in the above video.
“When you discover your essential nature and know who you really are, in that knowing itself is the ability to fulfill any dreams you have, because you are the eternal possibility, the immeasurable potential of all that was, is, and will be.” ~Deepak Chopra
More ways to experience the Law of Pure Potentiality in your yoga practice:
• Accept and embrace your body as it is now, while at the same time expanding the limits of what your body can do and where it can take you.
• Experience the peace of pure awareness by cultivating a state of mindful witnessing. Tune into the present moment and notice how your body responds as you practice familiar poses and try new ones.
• Relinquishing the need to judge your ability. Self-acceptance is the source and goal of yoga.
• Tap into the field of pure potentiality by remembering that you are a wave of individuality arising from the unbounded ocean. When you look within, the memory of wholeness is rekindled and you know that you are unbounded, infinite, and eternal.
As I prepare to teach The Law of Dharma / or purpose in life this evening- a principle that resonates in the third-eye chakra, I am thinking about the abstract concept of intuition. And syncronystically, I stumble onto a lecture from the Chopra Center with Deepak and Dr. Judith Orloff on intuition. How much easier all of our lives would be if we could tune into the innate wisdom that lives within our bodies and the subtle recesses of our consciousness.
We all have stories about dreams that came true or a curious chain of events that are too auspicious to be a coincidence. Or a voice in your head that you dismiss only to later learn that if you had listened you could have saved yourself and others a whole lot of anguish and suffering. According to Dr. Chopra, Dr. Orloff and others, there is no such thing as coincidence. And I tend to believe that too.
But how do we cultivate that special and mysterious skill of reading the signs that are trying to tell us something? How do we know when to listen to the voice in our head? How do we know if we are making the right choices? How do we improve our intuition? The following 4 steps are a good place to start.
1. Go Into Silence on a regular basis: Meditate, spend time in nature, turn off the TV and the radio and the noise and just be. Everyday.
2. Stop Projecting: Evaluate your beliefs, your emotional baggage, your needs wants and desires and sort it out. Live from a place of innocence and wonder.
3. Feel Sensations in Your Body: Listen and feel the feelings inside your body when making important decisions. Your body will always tell you if you are making the most nourishing choice.
4. Listen to Your Dreams: Dreams can be important tools for insight. Tell yourself before you go to sleep that you want to witness your dreams and then try and recall them in the morning. Were there any important messages or themes? Write them down.
In the yoga tradition, the chakras are junction points between the physical body and consciousness. The human body contains seven major chakras that are aligned in a column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. The ancient sages envisioned the chakras as wheels or energy centers, and each one is associated with a specific vibration.
The heart chakra, known in Sanskrit as the anahata, is the energy center located in the area of our physical heart. This is the center in the body where love and spirit are joined. It is our heart that aches or fills with love, that feels compassion and trust . . . that seems empty or overflowing. When the energy in the heart chakra is flowing freely, we feel deeply connected to all beings and we experience an abundance of love, peace, and acceptance. When the heart center is blocked, we tend to feel isolated and fearful, unable to trust and receive the blessings of life.
Meditation for Your Heart
We can open and clear the heart chakra with a simple meditation practice using the Sanskrit mantra yum – the healing sound that resonates with the heart center.
Begin by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. As best you can, let go of any thoughts about the past and any expectations. Put your attention on the area of your heart and take another deep inhalation. As you exhale, say or chant the mantra yum in one long syllable.
Feel the sensations in your body and feel the energy flowing effortlessly from the base of your spine through your heart chakra. Visualize the energy as a beautiful green light that nurtures and bathes your heart in pure love, clearing away the residue of the past.
Repeat the mantra yum until you feel infused with a feeling of peace and safety.