Yoga Teacher Training Day 16: Throat Chakra

We’re jumping right into my October YTT weekend in this post! Saturday’s focus was the throat chakra and the endocrine system. We also played with the “king” and “queen” of asana, headstand and shoulder stand. Of course, we also did some practice teaching and had a lot of fun together. Let’s get to it!

Go For the Throat Chakra

We started off our morning talking all about the throat chakra, which was our main focus for the day. The throat chakra connects to the entirety of the vocal area. The head, neck, shoulders, ears, mouth, and throat are all a part of the throat chakra. Represented by the color blue and the seed mantra “HUM”, the throat chakra is about both speaking our truth AND listening to the truths of others.

Throat chakra
Meditating on the throat chakra!

We also spent some time talking about the endocrine system and how it relates to the chakra system. The endocrine system consists of seven glands,  responsible for regulating the chemical and hormonal activity of the body. Each part of the endocrine system pretty neatly corresponds to a part of the chakra system. Even though the intricacies of these glands probably weren’t known to the ancient yogis, they clearly had an innate understanding that these areas of the body had great importance for both the physical and spiritual body.

The relationships between the two systems are fascinating. Our two lowest chakras, the root and sacral, correspond to what we might call our basest needs: reproduction and the fight-or-flight response. Our higher needs correspond with the upper chakras and upper endocrine glands. While our pineal gland responds to light, our crown chakra responds to enlightenment. The pituitary gland is responsible for our physical growth, while the third-eye chakra is responsible for our spiritual growth. The solar plexus chakra corresponds with the pancreas, and both are associated with digestion. The heart chakra corresponds with the thymus. Both of those organs are responsible for our physical well-being. The throat chakra gives us a voice for our dreams and passions, and stimulates the thyroid, giving us the energy to carry them out.

Chakra Practice

After our talk about the endocrine/chakra connection, it was time for our morning practice. We moved through each part of the body, tuning into the chakras as we went along. We visualized the color for each of the chakras as we practiced. Since this was our first practice of the day, we took it slower and easier in order to warm up. Our throat chakra warm-up was a simple turn of the head back and forth.

We finished our practice with Bhramai pranayama. The practice is often called “bumble bee breath” because of the sound produced during practice. It’s a simple pranayama to do, and very stimulating for the throat chakra. You simply inhale through the nose, and then take an extended exhale. As you exhale, make a light, low-pitched humming noise. I love the way this sounds in a group. We really did sound like a little hive of bees!

Use Your Teacher Voice

Our chakra practice also served as a warm-up for our practice teaching. Each of us had prepared a 15-minute sequence based on an archetypal theme. We had to keep that theme throughout the practice as we also led students through the asanas. We divided up into two groups, and half of us did the practice while the other half observed. Then we switched back and forth, so that we all got turns experiencing and observing the teacher.

Everyone did such a great job once again. I got to experience some teachers that I hadn’t so far during training. Everyone has really developed a style, both in their cues and in their sequencing. It’s such an honor to see the growth of each of these women into extraordinary yoga teachers.

I based my practice around the Hero’s Journey of the tarot deck. Of course, hero pose was my peak pose. Along the way, I chose specific poses to correspond with different cards from the deck. I really enjoyed teaching, and my mini-class was pretty well received. I still need to work on noticing the little things that will bring my students more comfort and ease, but it’s something I will continue to work on.

Can You Stand on Your Head?

We spent the entire afternoon session talking about headstand and shoulder stand. The nature of these poses requires that teachers be very careful in teaching them, should they choose to teach them at all. The neck is such a delicate area, and it isn’t really meant to hold much weight. When practicing these asanas, we need to do all that we can to minimize the amount of weight and stress placed on the neck. Both poses are great for the throat chakra, but great care needs to be taken to prevent injury and long-term damage.

After our discussion, we took some time to practice both headstand and shoulder stand in various forms. Knowing various ways to approach, prop, and modify these poses is crucial to teaching them. We all had a chance to experience these poses through assists, propping, and modification. We also took some time to discuss afterwards and write out our takeaways and cues for future reference.

Chair headstand
Chair headstand! This was definitely a new variation for me!

Our final pose of the day was fish pose. This is another pose that can put pressure on the neck area, but it’s also great for opening up the throat chakra. Just like with headstand and shoulder stand, we explored several ways to enter the pose. We discussed modifications and props as well. I love fish pose, and done carefully and properly, we can avoid putting too much stress on the delicate bones and muscles in the neck area.

That’s a Wrap!

That’s all for our last Saturday session at BlissBlissBliss. Next week we’ll talk about the Sunday session. We spent the morning with an Ayurvedic Practitioner learning all about yoga’s sister science. I’m looking forward to bringing you a peak into this fascinating conversation. Be sure to come back next week to read!