The following text is from a series appearing on my Instagram account.
Yes, I’m a yogi and I still like a good systems approach to improve my habits, meet my goals, and be creative. We all need creativity in our lives, whether we’re making art or we’re simply trying to solve the next problem at home or work. Creative thinking is what moves us forward. And, in my experience, it brings joy.
The “system” that works for me is the Chakra system of yoga philosophy. The first or Root chakra is concerned with our safety and survival, with our physical world. It is the ground we establish ourselves from and a good starting point for developing creative abilities.
Using the chakras to guide your creativity and the root chakra to start, ask if you have a space that feels safe and supportive for you to be creative. My hodge-podge little office is uniquely mine. Do you have the materials you need? Do you prioritize time for this? Do you take care of your body with nourishment and rest so that you have energy for creativity?
It can be so easy to overlook, but is really important to set yourself up physically to be comfortable and secure – even if that’s for Zoom calls with colleagues. Not everyone has the luxury of an office door to close, and yet maybe you can take five minutes each morning to clear your tabletop or desk and place something in your eyesight that inspires or brings a smile to your face. The root chakra is also associated with the sense of smell, so essential oils, a candle, or some scent that calms can also help set the foundation for a creative day.
The second or Sacral chakra can support our creativity by helping us to access a state of flow. Associated with our emotional world and the element of water, the second chakra is in health and balance when we can name our emotions without becoming our emotions – we let them move through us.
Emotion is a powerful catalyst for creativity. When we’re angry, we can work to change outdated systems. When we’re sad, we can instill beauty and compassion in our work. When we’re joyful, we can lift others with humour.
So how can we access the second chakra and its energy for our creative pursuits? As its name suggests, this chakra is located at the lower abdomen, the pelvis, where pleasure is seated. Connect with pleasure in your senses, which could mean wearing silky or soft clothing for a creative session. Light a candle or diffuse some essential oil. Listen to music. Try a flowing vinyasa yoga class, a few rounds of sun salutations, or a hip-shaking dance party. Before you get down to your creative task, spend 5 to 10 minutes writing by hand whatever comes to mind, perhaps allowing your emotion to flow out as well. Take your time writing cursive, which activates your body and the brain to move you from conceptual thinking to sensory experience.
The third (solar plexus or navel) chakra is at the core of our power and will. In the centre of our trunk where we feel butterflies in our stomach as a warning that something isn’t right or that something matters immensely to us, the third chakra is associated with the element of fire. Think of it as the passion that ignites us towards action. It has the power to move us forward to meet our goals and make our desires reality.
When it comes to creativity, working with this chakra allows you to access your individuality and focus your efforts on what really matters to you. The third chakra invites you to be spontaneous, going with your gut instincts. It is strengthened when we can bring a spirit of playfulness and our unique sense of humour to our creative work. This chakra asks you to avoid perfection, instead accessing your creative power and passion to finish a first draft. “Just do it.”
You can bring awareness and energy to activate the navel chakra through vigorous, sweaty exercise, as well as yoga or pilates practices that focus on core work. Think planks, sit-ups and the like. A breathing exercise that supports the third chakra is breath of fire in which you forcefully exhale by quickly pulling the belly button back towards your spine to expel the breath. Focus on this motion and the exhale; the inhale will naturally occur in between. Dress in yellow or bring that colour into your vision. Light a candle. Connect with your core. And brainstorm.
The fourth chakra – the heart chakra – is located in the centre of our chest and naturally relates to love, devotion, connection, and partnerships. When it comes to creativity, we are unlikely to make progress if our heart isn’t in it. Unlocking our heart’s desire, our ability to devote ourselves to that desire, and the ability to connect and ask for help when we need it is the domain of the heart chakra.
Physical practices that can help to access this energy centre include heart or chest opening yin yoga in which you hold gentle backbends, as well as breathing exercises such as viloma pranayama, where you interrupt the natural flow of breath. I recommend trying this – interrupting the exhale to release it slowly in three parts. Inhale deeply, pause at the top, exhale one third, pause, exhale two thirds, pause, then release the remaining breath. Repeat for a few rounds or short meditation.
You can also connect with the heart chakra by reading poetry that moves you, listening to a favourite song, drawing, and making collage using pictures of things you love. Another great way is to write a love letter to yourself or someone or something that you hold dearly. I also like to repeat to myself the mantra from one of Sarah Blondin’s meditations on Insight Timer: I love you and I’m listening. One of the greatest gifts of connection is to be heard. Let your heart speak, listen with kindness, and then bring the knowing of your heart to your creative problems.
Fifth chakra (throat) – to come
Sixth chakra (brow) – to come
Seventh chakra (crown) – to come