We’ve been taking a closer look at the Chakras each month. Chakras are centers of prana (energy, life force) that align down the spine and correspond to vital points in the physical body. Brush up on the significance of the seven main chakras here, take this quiz to find out which of your chakras are under/overactive, and take a peak at the last two months, in case you’ve forgotten: Muladhara and Svadhishthana.
Manipura (Solar Plexus, or Navel) Chakra is the gateway to the more esoteric Chakras, what we sometimes call the “Higher Chakras.” Working our way up from our Root and Sacral Chakras, the heavy elements of earth (our foundation and survival) and water (our family, sexuality and creativity) give way to fire: our personal strength and power. Working with the third Chakra accesses and teaches you to trust your gut instinct, assert yourself around others, and make decisions and judgments with wisdom.
At its best, a balanced Manipura Chakra supports concentration, focus, clear vision and confidence. You have no issues with being assertive and have a strong sense of self. Even more, a balanced Manipura Chakra draws from the grounded qualities of the earth (creating mental and emotional stability, drawing from your realness, humanness), and then allows your spirituality to shine through. Physically, the benefits of having Manipura in harmony include excellent digestion, strong muscles and joints, boundless energy, calm nerves, mental clarity and overall A+ wellness (Manipura, at the gut, is really the seat of our vitality).
An under-active Manipura leads to timidity and passiveness, losing your voice in a group. It’s hard to make decisions, and when you do, you likely lack the confidence to stand up for what you want. On a physical level, you might suffer from a weakened immune system and have issues with indigestion and infections.
An overactive Manipura means your ego makes all the decisions (instead of your wisdom), and you come off as aggressive, domineering and judgmental. You might have an overtly strong sense of self (a strong foundation), but without the wisdom and compassion from your spirit, you tend towards negativity and insensitivity.
The good news is that pretty much every style of yoga and pranayama (from restorative to power flow) works with this Chakra to balance it out and create strength. Specifically, the Warriors (including Warrior II, pictured above) tend to hone in your concentration and give you assertive energy while keeping you grounded (and egoless). I also find that the Sun Salutations do wonders for the body and mind. So does Treta Bandha.
When meditating, visualize yellow, Manipura’s primary fiery color. Draw your focus to the Solar Plexus (where the ribcage fans out around the navel), and intuit your personal power as a long-burning fire. Imagine that you’re stoking the fire to stoke strength, creating energy to accomplish your projects, and learning to put trust in your instincts.