Practical Centering: Exercises to Energize Your Chakras for Relaxation, Vitality, and Health

Practical Centering: Exercises to Energize Your Chakras for Relaxation, Vitality, and Health

by Larkin Barnett

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2013 Nautilus Silver Award Winner!

Practical Centering enhances physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance with innovative breathing techniques and empowering exercises. It provides an instant vacation in this hectic world, enabling us to elevate our energy, relax our body, strengthen our core, and quiet our mind.

Larkin Barnett links her


2013 Nautilus Silver Award Winner!

Practical Centering enhances physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance with innovative breathing techniques and empowering exercises. It provides an instant vacation in this hectic world, enabling us to elevate our energy, relax our body, strengthen our core, and quiet our mind.

Larkin Barnett links her original techniques with the chakras-ancient, non-Western concept of the seven physical and spiritual centers in the body. The Chakra Rocking Massage she teaches is a movement meditation that awakens the chakra centers and offers a practical, user-friendly way to relax. Reminiscent of being rocked in a cradle, these repetitive, gentle motions are soothing and tension releasing

Muscular tightness can begin in the mind. The root cause may be illness, surgery, accidents, abuse, emotional trauma, daily stress, poor movement habits, or even one's choice of sport or fitness. The Chakra Rocking Massage clears and opens the chakras, causing energy to move more freely throughout the body. Hence, muscular tension dissipates, and tissue health, suppleness, and posture are improved.

To this key exercise, Larkin adds simplified breathing techniques drawn from both Eastern and Western traditions as well as visualizations. Likening the experience to creating a favorite meal, she provides "recipe cards" for each exercise, focusing on the ingredients of color, location, life lesson, natural elements, physical senses, emotions, and affirmations. Strengthening our mind/body connection in this way is the ultimate immune booster, improving circulation for better tissue nutrition and metabolism. The body acts like a natural pharmacy as it flushes away waste products more thoroughly.

Altogether, the tools in Practical Centering can lead to a life of more vitality and ease. It's a great little book to pack in your suitcase or back pocket. The exercises take only minutes and can be done easily at home, at work, or wherever you happen to be.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Sometimes we need to bring ourselves back down to earth. Practical Centering: Exercises to Energize Your Chakras for Relaxation, Vitality, and Health is a new age discussion of discovering greater vitality and spirit in one's life, embracing the spirit and drives within oneself, the chakras, on a daily basis. Practical Centering is a straightforward and much recommended pick for followers of new age philosophy, highly recommended.
--James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review

"Practical Centering enhances physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance with innovative breathing techniques and empowering exercises. It provides an instant vacation in this hectic world, enabling us to elevate our energy, relax our body, strengthen our core, and quiet our mind." --Larkin Barnett, DailyOm

"This easy-to-use self-help title will appeal to readers looking for stress-reduction techniques. Meditators, students of mindfulness, yoga and Pilates aficionados, and those interested in mind-body topics will also find much of interest. Recommended."
--Excerpted from Library Journal, Janet Tapper, Univ. of Western States Lib., Portland, OR

"Practical Centering is truth in advertising. I can't recall reading a more practical, accessible book on this sort of subject matter."
--Excerpted from The Magical Buffet

"Dancer, movement therapist, and Pilates specialist Barnett has created a true "minutes-a-day" regimen to improve fitness, vitality, and wellness. Drawing on her decades of experience (and her work with children), she has not only come up with an easy, practical series of exercises, but she has also presented them in a fun, colorful, and easy-to-understand package. Coincidentally, I pulled a groin muscle just before I started to review this book. Carefully practicing her Rocking Massage Exercises was one of the most soothing things I did to deal with the incapacitating injury A main focus of the book is learning to breathe correctly. It's not a new idea, but her use of the images of large, colorful balloons placed within the body to teach these techniques is very new, and very helpful.
She ties both the Rocking Massages and Balloon Breathing to the seven major chakras, creating a simple full body workout. She adds sections on slow stretching and core abdominal strengthening to complete this deceptively simple regimen. This one is truly a gem. It takes the "should" out of exercising and replaces it with fun and self-nurturing. Don't let your customers miss this one!
" --Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight

Library Journal
Yoga and Pilates instructor and physical therapist Barnett (Functional Fitness) has created a system of relaxation and revitalization that uses fundamentals of breath work, core fitness, and yogic teachings of the chakras. Integrating techniques of mindfulness, guided imagery, color therapy, yoga, and Pilates, Barnett provides different exercises intended to relieve stress and restore physical and emotional ease in five-minute daily sessions. Clear descriptions and minimalist line drawings (which are sometimes overly simple and confusing) illustrate each movement and its associated breath, imagery, and affirmation. Barnett's explanations of the chakra system, the seven centers of energy in the etheric body (i.e., one's aura), their characteristics, and related purposes are well rounded and friendly to untrained readers. VERDICT This easy-to-use self-help title will appeal to readers looking for stress-reduction techniques. Meditators, students of mindfulness, yoga and Pilates aficionados, and those interested in mind-body topics will also find much of interest. Recommended.—Janet Tapper, Univ. of Western States Lib., Portland, OR

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Practical Centering

Exercises to Energize your Chakras for Relaxation, Vitality, and Health

By Larkin Barnett

Theosophical Publishing House

Copyright © 2012 Larkin Barnett
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8356-3039-9


Visual Imagery, Consciously-controlled Breathing, and the Mind/Body Connection

The use of visual imagery and consciously-controlled breathing is the most direct pathway to your mind/body connection. When we use visual imagery, we construct a mental picture to accomplish a physical task. Visualize what you see in your mind's eye to create an image to send to your body. "Feel" it with one or all of your senses. Breathing is the only involuntary system of the body that we can consciously control. For most of us, this system is relatively dormant, yet learning to utilize it is the key to radiant health.

Healthy people understand that our minds play a critical role in our physical well-being. You will discover that the power of the mind is the key to your most healthy body.

Olympic athletes use visualization to imagine the "perfect execution" of their event. While visualizing, athletes simultaneously "feel" their bodies performing. If you can see it and can feel it, you can transform your body.

Use this book to become a champion in your own life. A champion's inner voice is positive, encouraging, and instructive. Visualization is a powerful way to become absorbed in the movement experience and to suppress negative emotion. When performing the exercises in this book, avoid distractions. Think about visual imagery and breathing. Paint a picture in your mind that you can see, and then feel it with your body. Don't let negative thoughts creep into your consciousness. The reward will be deep relaxation and a heightened sense of being alive.

Three-Dimensional Balloon Breathing and the core abdominal Foundation Formula, as outlined in chapters six and ten, provide completely portable and instant stress management. You learn techniques you can do anytime, anywhere—in a traffic jam, at your desk, at a doctor's office, in your hotel room, during errands and chores, or on an airplane.

Imagine the possibilities! You're three hours into a long flight from Los Angeles to New York. Your back is sore, and your legs begin to cramp. You can practice Three-Dimensional Balloon Breathing and the Foundation Formula in combination with your chakra color imagery, and in only a few seconds, you begin to feel the tension melt away. Later, performing the Chakra Rocking Massage Exercises when you reach your destination is like taking a mini-vacation.

We seldom allow ourselves to pause our busy lives long enough to turn our attention inward. Disconnecting from our physical body allows stress to erode our health. To correct this problem, you can easily use the core abdominal Foundation Formula when you get in and out of a car, chair, or bed, while you are climbing stairs, and while you are walking. You will cause less wear and tear to your body, and in many cases, find you are moving in a more youthful manner.

You can reprogram your mind/body connection and make many positive changes. The Foundation Formula utilizes the mind/body connection to improve your body's ability to move with ease and efficiency and significantly improve your posture. You will experience fewer aches and pains and have an increased ability to cope with stress.

The ABC—Action, Belief, Consequence Exercise

Many people believe that the mind and body are at odds. Changing the "inner messages" you give yourself by consciously choosing how you respond to stress is the first step in bringing the mind and body together as a team.

Action: Begin by picturing a stressful action that happened recently. What was your emotional response to that action? Were you anxious, frustrated, or angry?

Belief: What were your beliefs about that event?

Consequence: What were the consequences or the physiological response of your beliefs? Did you feel your heart rate elevate or your shoulders tense, or did you develop a headache?

We can't always control the stress going on around us. You can learn to modify your internal reaction to stress by interrupting your response between step one, the action, and step two, the belief. More importantly, that choice changes your habitual physiological response or consequence that breaks down your body.

You will find yourself less reactive to stressful circumstances, needing to count to ten less often. For immediate physiological and mood changes, reprogram your stress response using the affirmations, breathing, and core exercises in the book. We take our cars in for routine service. Your own "vehicle," your body, requires body maintenance, too. These body-care routines cultivate awareness by guiding you to habitually choose to focus on what's going on within you even while on the run.

Breathing and contracting your deep abdominals are your daily "road map" to feeling fit. Make moving from your core abdominals a constant priority while lifting heavy objects, climbing stairs, or anytime you move. Adding the core abdominal Foundation Formula is a lifestyle choice as important as getting plenty of water and rest. It provides stability for the spine and takes the pressure off the joints.

You learn how to implement mastery over your energy levels instead of depletion. This comes from discovering the body's breathing spaces, working your diaphragm, and contracting your abdominal muscles. These tools are for real life and change your inner stress-response messages. Consistent practice builds a "breath savings account" that accrues health dividends for all systems of the body.

Close your eyes and disentangle yourself from outside concerns—and even from the chatter of the mind—to calm down your nervous system. Turn your focus inward and recharge your batteries with a quick breathing break. You can do it behind a closed door at your office, during airplane travel, or just while walking. You will notice more energy and better concentration through conscious breathing. Anxiety and worry cause our bodies to go on alert. These breathing techniques provide relaxation for mind and body.

The Chakra Rocking Massage improves tissue health, suppleness, and posture. The gentle body maintenance massage helps to resolve muscle soreness, aches, and discomfort we think we must live with. The tools in this book reinforce a healthy relationship to your nervous system for a life with more vitality and peace.

Anchor Your Exercises with Color Imagery

\You will increase body awareness through visualizing vibrant colors in conjunction with visual images. Color imagery, with its profound impact on the nervous system, helps you to reach your goals. Color imagery allows more intake of air during Three-Dimensional Balloon Breathing, deeper abdominal contractions during the Foundation Formula, and more supple muscles in the Chakra Rocking Massage. You will also release habitually tight muscles during Progressive Relaxation.

Allow color to permeate the body maintenance exercises. The goal of the Foundation Formula is to contract the deep abdominals. Color helps identify the elusive stomach muscles and intensify your physical ability to contract them. Color helps you to let go, unwind, and enjoy the physical sensation of loose, supple, and toned muscles. Your reward is a calm mind and a joyful spirit.


What Are Chakras?

Chakras are spinning vortices of energy located along the spine. Positioned from the tailbone to the crown of the head, they are part of your energetic anatomy. The vertical alignment of the chakras symbolizes the journey from the material world upward to the divine.

There are references to the chakras in the Vedas, ancient Hindu texts of knowledge, which date from 2,000 to 600 B.C. The chakras came to be one of the integral parts of yoga philosophy and are bridges to higher consciousness; meditation can awaken these energy centers.

Wherever dynamic energies come together in nature, they form spinning circular patterns, or vortices. On a small scale, this becomes apparent as tiny spirals on the surface of streams; on a large scale, in the cloud systems that create cyclones. The seers of ancient India perceived similar vortices within the energy of the human body. The human body has seven of these energy or power centers. Derived from the Sanskrit word for "wheel," chakras spin like wheels of colored light.

In the journey to achieve personal power, each chakra defines and adds a dimension to the purpose of life and helps achieve insight and balance. This sacred ancient imagery is accurate in its symbolic depiction of an individual's maturation.

Chakras—Colors, Centers, and Energy

Although not visible to the naked eye, the seven chakras are associated with seven colors. They are red (survival), orange (pleasure), yellow (power), green (love), blue (self-expression), indigo (intuition), and violet (spirituality). Visualize the chakras as you would a rainbow or sunlight that streams through stained glass, bright but transparent. The human body at its most basic level is pure energy. Imagine your spectrum of chakra colors and feel what it is like to touch your energy system. Through the chakras, you can discover a part of your anatomy that you didn't know existed and use it to enhance your well-being and health.

In this book, you will learn to maximize chakras and use their associations to chart your progress. As you experience each chakra exercise, you will heighten your senses and connect to a calm state that resides within you. Life lessons, or energetic associations, have representation in the seven chakra centers. The first three chakras embody specific spiritual life lessons in the material world. The next four higher chakras suggest the spiritual ascension.


First Chakra: Material and physical world

Second Chakra: Creation, work, relationships, and emotions

Third Chakra: Self-empowerment, mind, and personality


Fourth Chakra: Love, compassion, and forgiveness

Fifth Chakra: Will and self-expression

Sixth Chakra: Intuition, insight, and wisdom

Seventh Chakra: Spirituality

Chakra Ingredients for Your Mind/Body Experience

While you learn to enhance your mind/body experience practicing the Chakra Rocking Massage Exercises, you will focus on the unique elements of the chakras (chapter five). This is like stirring in the correct ingredients to make your favorite recipe complete. As you practice, you will remember each important ingredient and your "recipe" will become second nature. The ingredients for your experience include color, location, life lesson, keywords, elements, senses, glands, emotions, and affirmations. Glands are like chemical messengers, and each gland relates to a particular chakra.


The Root/Base (First) Chakra


Color: Red. Breathe in the color and visualize it moving around your tailbone.

Location: Base of your tailbone

Life Lessons: Survival/physical, basic body needs

Keyword: Acceptance

Element: Earth

Sense: Smell

Gland: Adrenals. The adrenal glands secrete hormones essential for our primitive "fight or flight" response.

Feelings/Emotions: Feeling safe and secure

Affirmations: "I am grounded and supported in all areas of my life. I feel worthy of abundance."


The Sacral (Second) Chakra


Color: Orange. Breathe in the color and visualize it moving around your hips.

Location: Pelvic area /lower abdomen

Life Lessons: Emotion, pleasure, sensuality

Keyword: Sweetness

Element: Water

Sense: Taste

Gland: Ovaries/testes.


The Solar Plexus (Third) Chakra


Color: Yellow. Breathe in the color and visualize it moving around your navel.

Location: Solar plexus, between navel and base of sternum

Life Lesson: Mental/true inner personal power

Keywords: Self-respect, confidence, discipline

Element: Fire Sense: Sight

Glands: Pancreas, adrenals. Listen to your inner guidance and honor your "gut feelings."

Feeling/Emotion: Courage

Affirmations: "I am powerful and I am cultivating more courage. I enlist cooperation and support when needed."


The Heart (Fourth) Chakra


Color: Green. Breathe in the color and visualize it moving around the heart.

Location: Heart, center of chest

Life Lesson: Growth through love

Keywords: Body, spirit, harmony, trust

Element: Air

Sense: Touch

Gland: Thymus

Feelings/Emotions: Forgiveness, compassion, nurturing

Affirmations: "I am unconditional love. Love is the strongest force in the universe."


The Throat (Fifth) Chakra


Color: Blue. Breathe in the color and visualize it moving around your throat.

Location: Throat, neck

Life Lessons: Communication, self-expression, listening to the wisdom from within, the stillness that lies between your thoughts

Keywords: Listening, speaking

Element: Ether

Sense: Hearing

Glands: Thyroid, parathyroid

Feelings/Emotions: Kindness, thoughtfulness

Affirmations "I am the inspired wisdom within you. I have the gift of a childlike curiosity for life."


The Third-Eye (Sixth) Chakra


Color: Indigo. Breathe in the color and visualize it moving around your forehead.

Location: Forehead, above and between the eyebrows

Life Lesson: Blossoming of intuition

Keywords: Inner vision

Element: Light

Senses: Sixth sense, intuition

Glands: Pituitary, hypothalamus

Feelings/Emotions: Tranquility, generosity

Affirmations: "I use my imagery and visualization. I renew my energy in nature. I am grateful for easy and effortless action. I am observing the magic of life."


The Crown (Seventh) Chakra


Color: Violet. Breathe in the color violet and visualize it moving around the crown of your head.

Location: Crown/top of head

Life Lessons: Acceptance of a higher guidance, spirituality

Keywords: Co-creation, transcendence, infinite possibilities, gratitude

Element: Cosmic energy

Sense: Faith beyond the senses

Gland: Pineal

Feelings/Emotions: Selflessness, joy, happiness

Affirmations: "I am at peace. I am compassionate and enjoy helping others."


Introduction to the Chakra Rocking Massage—The Body/Chakra Connection

The Chakra Rocking Massage Exercises are helpful re-alignment/release techniques that offer a practical, user-friendly way to physically relax and soothe you mentally and emotionally. Adding breath and chakra color imagery deepens muscle relaxation while calming the mind. When the seven chakras are in balance, particular parts of the body achieve perfect functioning. Meditation awakens the chakra energy centers. The Chakra Rocking Massage is a movement meditation that shifts your focus from outside concerns while improving your body awareness.

The Chakra Rocking Massage keeps energy flowing freely throughout the body and provides an improved state of health. Energy blockages within the body lead to dis-ease that is reflected in the chakra energetic system. The self-massage helps avoid manifesting physical ailments that begin at an energetic level. Self-massage improves blood and lymphatic circulation and flushes waste products. The Chakra Rocking Massage realigns your body so you experience fewer aches and less discomfort. The gentle rocking sensation coordinates the mind/body to cultivate a sense of peace.

Supporting the belief that the chakras spin at seven distinct locations along the spine, the massage-like motion rocks the body as a unit from the tailbone to the crown of the head. The exercises provide a physical outlet to reflect upon each chakra. Refer to the chakra recipe cards in chapter two to enrich your experience.

The mind, rather than the sense organs, was the traditional tool for accessing, exploring, and balancing the energy of each chakra. The Chakra Rocking Massage movement patterns allow you to use the mind and body connection. The seven distinct body positions require different muscle memory and coordination patterns. Your goal is to visualize your interconnecting chakra wheels spinning in harmony while rocking. Focus also on the colors, affirmations, and life lessons.

Benefits of the Chakra Rocking Massage

The massage provides deeply relaxing realignment movements that improve your posture. They decompress the spine by elongating the trunk muscles. The subtle movements activate the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints. They relax the neck, the shoulders, and the back muscles, which helps to minimize headaches and back discomfort. They alleviate digestive and sleep problems.


Excerpted from Practical Centering by Larkin Barnett. Copyright © 2012 Larkin Barnett. Excerpted by permission of Theosophical Publishing House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Larkin Barnett is a movement education speaker, Pilates-based physical therapy specialist, professor, movement therapist, dance choreographer, personal fitness trainer and yoga instructor. She holds five Pilates certifications, including two Golf Pilates specializations.

In the eighties, Larkin worked as Professor of Dance at Virginia Commonwealth University. From there, she went to Canyon Ranch Spa and became a movement therapist and fitness professional. Throughout her career, has also enjoyed teaching, choreographing, lecturing, and performing for organizations such as Harvard University, Longy School of Music, Four Arts Society Library and the University of Lappennranta, Finland.

In 2007, Larkin was chosen as a President’s Challenge Advocate for the President’s Award’s Program, part of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. She is the author of Practical Pilates: Using Imagery, Pilates and Calisthenics for Children, Creative Yoga for Children and On a Lark! Creative Movement for Children.

Currently, Larkin provides movement education and breathing workshops for adults and children, as well as stress management programs for national fitness conferences, certification organizations, hospitals, corporations, universities, spas, athletic clubs, physical therapy clinics and ballet companies.

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