From gray to green. That’s how it is this time of year. The gray that characterizes the early months of the calendar slowly, surely, gives way to green, the color of spring. Writing this on St. Patrick’s Day, I see green everywhere and it instantly brightens my mood, enlivens my thinking, and lifts my energy.
In color psychology, green is linked to positive thinking and attitude, to growth and renewal. In yoga philosophy, green is the color often associated with the energy center, or chakra, of the heart. The heart is the bridge between our lower, more primal needs (grounding, security) and our higher or more spiritual levels of awareness. The heart and lungs of the anahata region are about openness, air, breath, and being “unstuck” (think of how “stuck” we can feel during the gray months of the year or in challenging seasons of our lives.) So when spring rolls around and we see green we can find ourselves drawn to this energy of growth and open-heartedness.
I remember learning about chakras and finding it somewhat mysterious because I could not “verify” the idea of the subtle, or energy body with my modern, Western mind. But as I continue to experience the practice and life itself, I have become more convinced—in the way that we cannot see love but know when it’s there—that understanding the energy within and around us helps us discern who we are, how we are, and where we are. In the same way we learn to listen on a subtle level to our inner voice, we can learn to feel on a subtle level. Where we are open, where we are blocked, and how we can adjust and adapt for this moment.
If this seems a bit “out there,” stay with me for a minute.
Energy is movement. We typically think of energy as a kind of positive, get-up-and-go quality (tennis, anyone?). But subtle energy is more like a spinning, which is how the seven chakras are described. When we are balanced, energy flows; when we are not, we sense it somewhere in our being, unable to move or grow or change. We may not know why just yet, but we do know, at a deep level, that we are stuck in some way.
In this line of thinking, our inability to express our thoughts or communicate authentically might be seen as a blocked throat chakra; our feelings of insecurity, as signs of a blocked root chakra; or loss of trust in relationships as indicative of a blocked heart chakra. Though difficult to describe in words and often eluding a cause-and-effect analysis, the mind-body-spirit connection is real (do a PubMed search and you’ll be reading for days). Each of the energy centers of the body has its own characteristics but what they share in common is the need for openness and balance. When we become aware of the subtle body, we gain more insight into our unique makeup; we learn to recognize more quickly when we are “off” in some way and can adjust our thinking, our eating, our movement, or our choices to get back in balance.
One of the ways to stay balanced is to move with the natural cycles of the day and the seasons of the year and of our lives. What does the green of spring represent for you? Growth, as we are reminded by the trees and flowers all around us. Cyclical living, that each phase of the day, year, or life serves a purpose and if we release into that, we can gain what we need during that time. The “Go” of a green light, urging us to take that next step we have been pondering with full freedom. Each of these can signal us to move forward with love and compassion, for ourselves and others. Generating change and creating balance, calm, and openness to something new while returning to our unchanging core, our inner voice, to “listen from our heart.”
Dr. Ramona Wis is the Mimi Rolland Endowed Professor in the Fine Arts, Professor of Music, and Director of Choral Activities at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois and the author of The Conductor as Leader: Principles of Leadership Applied to Life on the Podium. Dr. Wis is a 500-hour CYT (Certified Yoga Teacher) and a certified Brain Longevity® Specialist, a research-based certification on yoga and integrative medicine for brain health and healthy aging. Reach her at: or ramonawis.com.
Disclaimer: This blog post is informational and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or psychological conditions. Always consult your medical practitioners who know you and your needs and can advise you accordingly.