Unleash your creative potential with this hip-opening sequence that will ignite your second chakra. Feeling inspired by Mary Beth LaRue's sequence? Her upcoming course, Yoga for Creativity, will breathe inspiration and bliss into your practice or teaching. (Sign up now.)
Imagine wading through a river choked with mud and fallen branches. For many of us, this is how reaching toward our life goals can feel. We get blocked— by dead-end career paths, robotic daily routines, or too much drama in our relationships—and feel stranded, without the momentum to make change. That’s because we can’t flow toward the life we want until the debris is cleared. To demolish that dam you need creativity, the power to turn dormant, dusty thoughts and dreams into actions and realities, and to find clever solutions to relationship, work, and other life challenges.
So how do you tap into that truly transformative, but often elusive, energy of creativity? Via the chakras, first mentioned thousands of years ago in sacred Hindu texts called the Upanishads. Described as interconnected nodes within the subtle-energy body, the chakras run along your spine and essentially map to your endocrine and hormonal systems. It’s the second chakra, svadisthana chakra, that holds the key to unlocking and harnessing the energy you need to be innovative and to make change.
Energetically, the second chakra rules creativity, emotions, joy, enthusiasm, and sensuality. Physically, it’s located near your sacrum and hips, below your navel, and is said to be the seat of your reproductive organs. When svadisthana energy is in balance—not too intense and not too laid-back—you can access feelings of abundance, joy, and pleasure, and clear the way for creative energy to flow freely.
However, when svadisthana is blocked, by emotional trauma or chronic stress, for example, you are unable to connect with your passions. You also tend to try to control everything, and your life might lack zest. In addition to feeling like you’re in a rut, you might be unable to connect intimately or embrace deep self-love, explains Christiane Northrup, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN and author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, a woman-centered book about the unity of mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Physically, the body can manifest these shackled emotions as unexplained lower-back pain, tight hips, sexual-organ dysfunction, and reproductive challenges.
Unfortunately, our modern, predominantly desk- and car-bound lives can exacerbate imbalance in the second chakra. We sit more, and for longer periods, than ever, resulting in restricted (and sometimes weakened) hips that inhibit the second chakra’s creative energies. To that end, one of the most accessible ways to undo these restrictions and find second-chakra balance is through asana. Yoga’s physical postures allow prana (or life-giving breath) to flow, activating and directing energy appropriately, according to yogic philosophy.
“A hip-focused yoga practice can release discomfort and help you look at everything as an opportunity,” says Mary Beth LaRue, a Los Angeles–based yoga teacher and co-founder of Rock Your Bliss, a yoga-inspired coaching business that helps people craft creative lives. “Ultimately, hip-opening asanas teach you to loosen your grip on life and let things ebb and flow. And finding a sense of fluidity in your day-to-day life transforms all of your relationships, including your relationship with yourself.”
Keep It Contained
While most of us suffer from tight hips, it’s not unheard of to have hips that are too loose. To harness the second chakra’s power, you need both physical openness to unlock creativity, and structure to give that creativity direction. How you feel in your hips is a good indication of how balanced your second chakra is: Expansive freedom of movement (think knees all the way to the floor in Supta Baddha Konasana [Reclining Bound Angle Pose]) can signal that svadisthana energy is unbridled and overly wild. In this case, you may notice that you’re addicted to turbulent and unhealthy relationships, or experience jealousy, emotional outbursts, and unfulfilling, confusing lust. To counter this energy, add more poses like Low Lunge, with an emphasis on drawing in, containing, and stabilizing the hips. Focus on grounding with each inhale, engaging your abductors (outer-thigh muscles), hugging in toward your midline with your adductors (inner-thigh muscles), and lifting your pelvic floor to support the lower back. This will give the second chakra a clear, constructive way to express your true self, explains LaRue.
11 Poses for Opening Up to Possibility
Try this hip-opening sequence, designed to help you spark svadisthana and tap into your creative potential. “If your second chakra is balanced, it is much easier to go into the world and create the life of your dreams,” says Northrup.
When the second chakra is balanced, you can meet challenges with curiosity and playfulness, rather than letting your emotions carry you away or, alternatively, experiencing a knee-jerk reaction of shutting down or becoming defensive. Because most of us suffer from tight hips, this practice focuses on opening the physical seat of the second chakra. LaRue warns that a hip-opening practice can make us feel vulnerable. If that applies to you, bring your awareness to your breath to find a grounding sense of stability as you practice.
With the following 11 poses, LaRue creates a safe space for you to step into your potential. “Pay attention as you move through this sequence to see where you encounter resistance, then use your breath to soften that resistance,” says LaRue. Find a distraction-free space outdoors or in your home and set an intention for your practice, something that either reminds you of your life goals or inspires you to reach for them. Encourage yourself to move creatively or intuitively, which may bring about a more open-minded way of being. Then, see how this sense of fluidity travels with you off the mat.