POSES FOR THROAT CHAKRA
The fifth of the body’s seven core energy centers, the throat chakra is the source of communication. When this chakra is balanced, it enables us to speak our truth with clarity and kindness. But an imbalance or blockage affects communication and can lead to being excessively shy and quiet or, on the other hand, to gossiping, interrupting, and lying.
There are many ways to work on balancing or unblocking the throat chakra, including by practicing the following five yoga poses.
Flowing between cat and cow is the perfect way to warm up the spine – and it brings movement to the neck as well, making it a good place to start when working with the throat chakra.
To prepare for cat/cow, come onto hands and knees, feeling your spine in a neutral position and all four sides of the neck equally long. As you inhale, drop the belly down, pointing the tailbone up, and lift the head to look forward. On the exhalation, drop the tailbone and the crown of the head toward the ground, rounding your entire spine. Repeat 3-5 times, noticing how your neck feels in each position.
If this is uncomfortable, try placing a folded blanket under your knees or resting on your fists instead of the palms of your hands.
If ever there were a yoga pose that felt like it existed specifically to open the throat chakra, it would be lion. This rather unusual pose strengthens the throat and lungs and helps practitioners overcome feelings of self-consciousness.
Lion pose is typically practiced while sitting with the knees bent and the hips on the heels. Press the palms to the knees, and inhale through your nose. Then open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue, and make an audible “Haaa” sound as you exhale. Repeat 3-5 times, always inhaling through the nose.
If sitting on the knees isn’t possible, lion pose can also be practiced in a cross-legged position (just be sure to change the cross of your legs halfway through).
There are many different variations of cobra pose, and all of them open up the front of the body, including the throat.
For the most accessible version, baby cobra, begin by lying on your stomach with your palms planted on the mat next to your chest. As you inhale, lift the head, chest, and shoulders up off the mat, using the strength of your back rather than your arms. Hold this position for a few breaths or flow in and out of it several times, always using the inhale to lift yourself up.
For full cobra, start with the same motion, but then press into the palms to lift the entire torso off the mat and straighten the elbows. Rather than flowing in and out of this pose, hold here for a few breaths. If it doesn’t hurt your neck, you can look up toward the ceiling for a deeper opening in the throat. Lastly, advanced practitioners can also take king cobra, an even deeper backbend. Start in full cobra and bend the knees to lift the feet toward the head, while bending the upper back to reach the head toward the toes.
Fish pose is one of yoga’s best heart-openers and is often thought of as a pose to target the heart chakra, but it deeply opens the front of the throat as well.
Begin by lying on your back with your palms flat on the floor. Walk your hands underneath your glutes, and slide the elbows and arms as close to the torso as possible. As you inhale, lift your upper back and shoulders up off the mat, letting the back or top of the head release onto the floor. Stay here for several breaths, feeling the stretch along the front of the throat.
The supported version of fish pose provides similar benefits and is perhaps more common. Under your upper back, place one block on the low or middle height, lengthwise on the mat; then place a second block on any height (depending on what’s comfortable for your neck) under your head, creating a T shape. Lying over the blocks, you’ll be able to relax fully into the pose, enjoying a deeper opening of the heart and throat.
Plow pose works the throat chakra differently than the other poses listed here; instead of stretching out the front of the neck, plow compresses the throat.
To come into plow pose, start by lying on your back. Without bending your knees, lift your legs into the air until your body forms a 90-degree angle. Start to press your elbows into the ground and engage your core. As you inhale, lift your hips up and reach the legs up and over your head until your feet reach the ground. Your hands can support your low back, or you can reach your hands toward the front of your mat and interlace your fingers. Hold the pose for several breaths, and come out slowly.
If you can’t reach your feet all the way to the floor, set up in front of a wall. As you come into plow, let your feet rest on the wall behind you, as close to the ground as possible.