Quiet your mind and tune into your inner truth with yoga
Have you ever had a feeling in your bones that you just knew if a person or a situation wasn’t quite right, or felt an overwhelming impulse to take a certain direction in life, that it simply felt meant to be?
We humans are naturally very intuitive creatures. We have great clarity. We have longings and desires to follow dreams. We know what we want to achieve, what we want to do, what kind of lives we want to live. But the thing is a lot of the time we don’t listen to the inner voice.
In hindsight, when I look at particular paths I’ve taken or decisions I’ve made that in the end were not true to myself, I realise there was a part of me that knew all along. There was a voice so strong and knowing. However, each time the voice was pushed out and ignored, and when things went pear-shaped, I wondered, why didn’t I listen?
Tuning in to this inner voice and inner wisdom is really about connecting with your authentic self and understanding your true nature and heart’s desires.
I’m sure we can all say we wish we’d done things differently when looking back at life decisions. The point of all this isn’t to say “I told you so” to our past, but to realise that we all do have great inner knowledge and guidance we can draw upon.
Tuning in to this inner voice and inner wisdom is really about connecting with your authentic self and understanding your true nature and heart’s desires so you can live in a way that helps you achieve real happiness, purpose and clarity in life.
This is not to say the inner voice is always absolutely correct and we must put blind faith in it. However, as intuitive beings, heeding our bodies’ warnings and feelings or, at the very least, reflecting on them further can provide us with great insight and guidance before we charge full speed ahead.
Unsurprisingly, yoga is a powerful tool to connect with your inner voice so you can live in a way that authentically honours this and puts you on the path to achieving your true purpose, whatever it may be.
The power of Vishuddha
Developing your inner voice lies in tapping into the communication centre of your subtle body, the Vishuddha. The throat chakra, also known in Sanskrit as Vishuddha, is the fifth of the body’s seven energy centres. Located at the base of the neck, this chakra governs communication, in particular how you voice your inner truth and express yourself.
Being able to hear your inner voice and speak your truth means not only to know who you are, what you need and what you believe in, but to also live your life and carry out your actions in a way that is authentic and in accordance with this.
When the throat chakra is open and balanced, this is a piece of cake. You can tune in to your inner voice and express yourself in a way that is honest and clear. You have a strong sense of self and purpose and know not only how to communicate and live this out, but also how to listen to others and yourself.
However, blockages in the chakras can manifest in many forms. On a more subtle level, for the throat chakra, this might manifest as the inability to express or hear your voice, needs and thoughts. It could be as simple of saying “yes” when you really mean “no”, not speaking up on something you feel strongly about or not voicing what you want to do or achieve because you are afraid of what others will think. Not hearing your inner voice or acting on your truth holds you back and closes you off to the opportunities in life you may be truly seeking.
Opening and balancing the throat chakra can help you release energy and connect with your inner voice. The Vishuddha, like the body’s other six chakras, has specific areas of focus to balance the energy centre and, in turn, better help express yourself, your needs and your purpose.
Opening the throat chakra
Seed mantra: HAM
Sounds and vibrations have a remarkably soothing and relaxing effect on the body. Chant the HAM mantra to release and recalibrate the throat chakra. You will literally feel the reverberations and energy flowing through the base of the neck during chanting. Note: This mantra should sound more like haummm… rather than ham.
Meditate and visualise a pool of brilliant, sapphire blue radiating from the base of the throat. Direct your energy and focus here to stimulate and open this chakra. With each inhalation, allow the blue to flood into any other areas where you are feeling tension and to purify and soothe them.
Asanas: throat openers
Practise throat-opening postures such as the shoulder stand and its variations, bridge pose, fish pose and many others, while breathing deeply and focusing on the throat and neck areas.
The sound of silence
Practising silence is another powerful way to, first, find your inner voice and then properly hear and listen to what it has to say.
A few years ago, a severe vocal cord nodule caused me to be unable to speak without sounding like I was gasping for air, for six months. The effort it took to vocalise made me cut back on speaking altogether. I rationed my words and began thinking through each and every one before vocalising as it was physically too difficult to communicate every random thought.
It made me really reflect on what I was saying, or going to say, and realise that too often we just blurt out things that aren’t in line with who we are, what we believe or what we truly want out of life. This silence ignited a connection with my inner voice and I decided to then use my carefully selected, limited words to communicate more of my truth.
Silence is golden — yogis have known this for eons. Extended periods of silence or silence days offer a marvellous opportunity to quieten our monkey minds that jump from thought to thought, and switch off. More often than not, we find that with this silence comes great clarity and understanding. By quietening the mind and tuning out distractions, we have a better ability to connect to our true selves and hearts’ desires. We can tap into the inner voice that builds us up and tells us to take care of ourselves, follow our dreams and find our true purposes, rather than the one that can tear us down and tell us how we are “supposed” to be.
Actively practising silence (or unintentionally, like I did) gives us room to connect with our authentic selves and the inner voice that communicates its needs. Having a silence day outside of a retreat setting can be difficult to manage, particularly when we have social lives with families, jobs and other obligations. However, setting aside some time for silence even in the smallest ways can have great benefits.
To practise silence at home, choose a quiet space. You can use this as a chance to meditate, journal, reflect or simply carry out your day-to-day activities, but in silence. Regardless of what you do, find a rhythmic, meditative flow in the silence. The idea is to still the mind and through this process allow yourself the space to hear your inner voice and the clarity and awareness that come with it.
Let’s get loud
Although silence can draw out your inner voice, getting loud can also help when it comes to self-expression and communicating your truth. Singing — an element that governs the throat chakra — is a great way to express creativity as well as cleanse this energy centre.
Kirtan, or chanting mantras such as Om, is a great way to literally project the voice while contributing to a feeling of calmness and placing the body and mind in a state conducive to meditation where you can connect with yourself on a deeper level.
Om chanting produces vibrations and sounds that are felt through the vocal cords and strengthen the muscles around them.
Living your truth
In our normal, day-to-day lives, there are many things we can do or keep in mind to help better hear the inner voice, connect with who we are and live out our truths and our purposes. This can be particularly helpful when faced with decision-making and other challenges in life to ensure we are living in accordance with our true selves. Here are some examples of what you can do.
Create a sankalpa A sankalpa, or intention, is commonly used in yoga practice and is helpful in daily life. A sankalpa is a short, powerful statement that speaks to your heart’s longings and acknowledges your being. The intention reflects the inner voice and acts as a commitment to live in accordance with your highest truth or spirit — in other words, who you truly are. You can recite this during the times in your day when you need to be reminded of your true self.
Self-reflection When at a crossroads, or faced with a decision, give yourself an opportunity to connect with your inner voice. Take a breath, meditate, be silent, go for a walk and reconnect with your purpose. Reflect and think: What do I want out of life? Am I currently living purposefully and in tune with my truth? What can I do to put myself on a path truer to me?
Create a vision board Think about what you want to manifest and what your inner voice is calling for and put together a visual representation of your dreams and goals. Journalling is also a helpful way to tap into inner guidance.
Do more of what you love Do more of the things that bring genuine joy and happiness into your life on a daily basis. Use this as a chance to practise living your truth.
Reflect on your current communication Bring more truth, kindness and love into your communication and others will give this back to you.
Yoga for finding your voice
Humming bee breath (bhramari)
Sit on your mat with your legs crossed. Close your eyes and begin breathing deeply, focusing on your breath for a few minutes. To begin the humming bee breath, take a deep breath in. Gently place your index fingers on your ears to block them and begin to hum as you exhale. The hum should be an mmm…-like sound and should be drawn out as long as is naturally possible with your exhalation. The sound will reverberate at the base of your throat.
Half locust pose (ardha salabhasana)
Lie on your belly with your chin on the mat. Bring your palms face down and place them under your thighs. Inhale and lift your right leg off the mat, as high as it will go. Keep your left leg grounded and maintain balance in your hips. Keep your chin on the mat. Exhale and release. Repeat on the left side.
Extended triangle pose (utthita trikonasana)
Stand on your mat with plenty of distance between your feet and keep your insteps parallel. Rotate your right foot towards the right, and gently shift your left foot so it points inward on a slight angle. Extend your arms to the side. Inhale and on your exhalation, bend forward from your right hip and bring your right hand towards your foot, or as far down your leg as possible. Allow your left arm to float up to the ceiling. Extend through your left arm and take the stretch towards the right. Allow your chest to lift up and slightly rotate towards the sky. Lengthen your spine and focus your gaze on the extended hand.
Cat/cow pose variation (marjariasana/bitilasana)
Sit in vajrasana with your shins on the mat tucked under the buttocks. Lengthen upward through your spine to the crown of your head. Bring the palms of your hands just above your knees. Inhale and begin the sequence by making your spine concave, pushing your chest forward and lifting your head upwards. Then exhale and arch your spine in cat pose, bringing your chin towards your chest. Alternate and complete six rounds.
Sit on the mat with your knees bent in front of you. Stack your knees towards the right and keep your sit bones on the mat. Bring your right hand behind your right hip and left hand over your knees. Inhale and lengthen your spine and initiate the twist from your abdomen. Begin twisting and rotate your head to look over your right shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.
Fish pose variation (matsyasana)
Begin by lying flat on your back. Lift your chest up, walk your shoulder blades in and try to bring the crown of your head on the mat. For the variation, raise your arms and legs off the mat so they are at roughly a 60-degree angle. Focus on your throat and allow the space around your neck to completely open and relax.
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