The chakra system is an energetic highway that brings us to a place of harmony and balance.
Think of it as a connection flowing between mind, body and soul. When all channels are open and clear the energy flows, bringing us to a state of harmony within. When we interact with the world from this place, we sow seeds of harmony, love and light.
Not very long ago, I had no idea what a chakra was, or that serious imbalances and energetic blockages within me were at the root of most of my behavioral, emotional and physical disorders/dis-eases. Since diving deep into the ancient Sanskrit teachings on balancing and healing these energetic centers, I have become a different person, free from many of the limitations that I lived under for many years. I didn’t realize my insecurity and powerlessness were self-imposed. I didn’t know I could rewrite my beliefs as easily as I sat down to meditate. Working with my chakras showed me I could. It showed me where my personal power and strength was buried inside of myself and allowed me to ignite the fire of personal power.
Here, we will explore and discuss the third major chakra—the Manipura, or the Solar Plexus Chakra. This is the center of confidence and personal power.
In a sense it is our own personal Sun—radiating pranic energy throughout the body. The sun gives Earth life as Manipura gives the body life.
“In the same way that the sun continually radiates energy to the planets, Manipura Chakra radiates and distributes pranic energy throughout the entire human framework, regulating and energizing the activity of the various organs, systems and process of life.” ~ Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Kundalini Tantra
When to work with Manipura: you struggle with confidence or insecurity; you struggle with anger and control; you fear rejection or feel powerless in life; you feel lethargic and weak; you struggle with setting boundaries; your behavior is self-defeating and you don’t believe in yourself; you get angry and irritated easily and have a hard time letting things go.
This chakra is located a few inches above your navel, around the area of your solar plexus—just below your sternum. Imagine that it encompasses your upper abdomen and lower ribcage. Its color is yellow. It is our link to the sun and the ability to change and transform. It is important to work with this energy in order to grow spiritually, as insecure fears and lack of personal responsibility keep us at the mercy of others. Take charge of your life.
This is your center for self-confidence, spontaneity and energy. The ability to approach life with zest no matter what arises sprouts form this chakra. It governs will-power and personal power. Early trauma arising from having been a victim of control, bullying, overbearing parents or teachers, shaming, belittling or emotional/physical/sexual abuse can cause blockage here.
Are you controlled by your past?
Positive aspects of Manipura manifest in your ability to experience joy in life, as well as your drive, determination, stamina, self-discipline, work-ethic and perseverance. The need to control and judge others may indicate excessive Manipura energy. Negative aspects include wrath, jealousy and resentment. If you struggle to feel the fire of life or you feel weak-willed and cowardly, this may indicate deficiencies or blockages here. Do you find yourself often stuck feeling like a powerless victim to circumstance? Do you often quit before success comes? Are you over-competitive, taking it to the extreme? Are you prone to childish tantrums and outbursts when you don’t get your way?
Manipura strongly relates to transformation. This chakra is an energetic powerhouse. It is about our ability to convert what we take in—be it food, ideas, beliefs or information— into more usable forms of energy. When this chakra is unbalanced, it manifests in passive-aggressive behavior, extreme lack of confidence in self, anger, rage, bitterness, jealousy, pride and stubbornness. It governs how we relate to the world and how we go about accomplishing our goals. Do we quit when challenged or things get difficult? Do we refuse to take responsibility for ourself and our actions? Do we meekly fold at the slightest hint of a challenge to our ideas? Do we constantly defer command to others?
Manipura governs digestion—known as digestive fire in Ayurveda. Imbalances may manifest as heartburn, indigestion, ulcers, lack of stamina, lethargy, procrastination, or apathy. It helps with pancreatic, liver and adrenal functions, as well as governing sight. It governs the digestive tract as well as blood sugar. Curiously, it also governs the feet, which are what we use to stand firm, tall, and confident in the world.
This chakra’s element is Fire, its color yellow, its sense sight, its organ is the eyes, and its planets are Mars and the Sun.
The mudra (I use fire mudra) calls for both hands in a fist resting on your lap, with thumbs pointing up (like you are giving a thumbs up!).
To begin a chakra meditation practice, start simple:
- Sit down cross-legged, or lie down.
- Start your breath work to become still and present. If you use stones, citrine, honey calcite, sunstone or tiger’s eye are great for opening Manipura. Any yellow or sunny, fiery stones will resonate here.
- Begin to focus and visualize your breath traveling to the middle of your solar plexus region as you picture the color yellow.
- Take at least five deep, cleaning breaths that you send to your chakra. Breathe in slowly to 10, hold for 10, breathe out slowly for 10. (Start with five seconds if needed.)
- As you breathe, picture the breath cleansing your chakra. Picture the spinning disc of yellow energy, glowing cleaner and brighter with each breath you take. See it. Let it show its shape to you. Imagine a ball of yellow fire, like the sun, out in front of you. See it moving into your solar plexus, burning away all that no longer serves you.
- Use a mantra as you breathe in and out. “I offer all my negative qualities to the fire of transformation. I am open, courageous, safe, and secure. I bring this to others.” “I embrace my appetite for living and my digestive fire enables me to swallow all that life brings. I am powerful and I take responsibility over all areas of my life.”
- Picture a beautiful fire. Feel how it purifies and cleanses, destroying all that holds you back. feed it your fears and insecurities.
- Flow through yoga asanas geared toward this chakra—Parivritta trikonasana (Rotated Triangle Pose), Parivritta Utkatasana (Seated Twist) Jathara Parivritti (Reclining Spinal twist), Ardha-Matsyendrasana (Half-Spinal twist).
- Don’t rush through, but rather practice the asanas, to build your feelings of stability and strength in them. It’s all about finding the best version of the pose for you, at any given moment. Holding and breathing into the asanas is where the magic happens.
So many of our perceived failures and judgements in life arise from unbalanced Manipura. We must face what lies here in order to tap into our personal power that imbalances may be blocking us from. When I finally shined the light on this chakra, it allowed me to empower myself—to finally step into my own comfort zone within myself where I found self-discipline, leadership qualities and a talent for achieving whatever I set out to do. I did not have these abilities before working with Manipura. I was a quitter and a victim of the world before this.
The goal of working with Manipura is all about tapping into the fire of personal power and zeal for life. We connect to fire, which transforms. We find that others are inherently drawn to us and our ideas. We find the balance of strong yet sensitive. We are comfortable in emotions as well as boundaries. We are soft yet hard when needed. We can lead without controlling. Beware though—when Manipura is healthy and flowing we must watch for those that would be drawn to our power because they want us to take care of their needs. Doing so only robs them of their own growth.
Keep in mind, this is meant to be a beginner practice. Chakra work is something that goes deep within, tapping into an infinite source of ancient connectivity. If you quiet yourself, your chakra will tell you what it needs. Believe it or not, they will work to heal themselves once you start giving them the energy and attention to do so.
Many of our problems occur because, like a wheel, one spoke out of alignment results in a flat tire. When all chakras are open and running in a balanced state we find harmony within our mind, body and soul. Remember—have fun!
I would love to answer any questions or comments below! I look forward to hearing about your chakra work.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Mitya Ku at Flickr