The (Manipura) Chakra Approach to… Empowerment, Action, and Self-Esteem

My public classes have just completed a week of exploring the manipura or solar plexus chakra. In case you missed these experiential sessions on the manipura chakra, here are some highlights:

General Overview: You are capable of creating a sense of balance, personal power, and positive self-esteem through activating and balancing your manipura chakra. The manipura chakra is the energy center of the body that asserts that you have a choice in every situation. This chakra can be balanced by acknowledging reality and choosing positive, balanced actions to bring your vision for life into fruition. An in-balance manipura chakra allows you to express your highest will, make decisions, stand up for yourself, and experience positive self-esteem that needs no external help. Balancing this chakra can also combat feelings of helplessness, worry, or a need for control.

The manipura chakra asserts that “I ACT!”.

The manipura chakra rules digestion, the kidneys, and the adrenal glands. It’s related to the color yellow, the element fire, and the Sun and Mars.

To activate the manipura chakra through yoga, practice engaging the abdomen. One way to do this is to engage 5-10 rounds of breath of fire in different poses. To do this breath, inhale naturally then exhale forcefully (like a cough). Other great ways to engage the manipura chakra are by practicing twists, warrior poses, and poses that engage the core.


15 minute home practice to activate the manipura chakra:

Centering exercise: Start in a seated position with the hands in rudra mudra (pointer, ring, and thumb touching, middle and pinky straight). Close the eyes and bring focus to the breath for several rounds of breathing. Next, as you inhale, envision golden, warming light drawing up from the earth, through your pelvis, into the upper abdomen, and into your entire body. This fluid golden light brings strength, centering, a sense of steady confidence. As you exhale, envision the golden light building heat in your upper abdomen, with a heat that permits all around you. Continue for several rounds. If you find this light visualization helpful, you can continue to use it throughout your practice.

Warm up: In your easy seated position, inhale the arms overhead and on your exhale twist to the right, feeling the low belly draw up and in. Hold for several breaths and repeat on the left side. Next, isolate the ribcage and bring the torso around in circles, keeping the low abdomen stable as you do this. Flow through one surya namaskar, focusing on drawing the low belly up and in. When the sun salutation ends in tadasana, activate the legs toward one another. Move the thighs back in space to create room for your lumbar spinal curve, and then tuck your tailbone under by activating your low belly in toward your spine. This should at once feel strong and easeful. Move through five rounds of breath of fire.

Activate: Starting on your right side, move through warrior two, reverse warrior parsvakonasana, trikonasana, holding each pose for at least 30 seconds. If it feels easeful, in each pose experiment with a round or two of breath of fire. Repeat on the left side. Repeat this flow more quickly on the right side, this time adding more postures. From trikonasana, move toward ardha chandrasana to twisted ardha chandrasana. Then step the lifted foot back to anjanayasana first holding the arms overhead, and then bringing the hands to the heart for a twist. Once more, hold each pose for at least 30 seconds. If it feels easeful, in each pose experiment with a round or two of breath of fire. Repeat on the left side. The movement and strength in the abdomen in these postures will help awaken the third chakra.

Next, take a wide legged forward bend. Relax here for at least 30 seconds, focusing on creating length from the pelvis to the top of the head with each inhale and drawing the low belly up with each exhale. If it’s in your practice already, this is a great time to practice uddiyana bandha, which will activate the manipura chakra. Once you’ve completed the breath work, bring hands to hips and stand, returning to the top of the mat and working your way into downward facing dog.

Flow through an ab sequence that begins in plank. Hold plank for one minute and lower onto the forearms for a low plank. Twist the legs so that the feet stack on one another but the forearms remain on the mat. Hold for 30 seconds, and then point the feet in the other direction for 30 more seconds. Lower to the belly and take several breaths in sphinx pose.  Roll onto the back and lift the legs and torso into boat. Hold for one minute. 

Integrate: Lay onto your back. Bend the right knee and draw it in toward the chest. On an exhale, draw the leg across the body for a twist, keeping the right shoulder drawing toward the floor. Allow the abdomen to totally relax. Repeat on the left side. Hug the knees in toward the chest for several rounds of breath. As you release toward savasana, take three rounds of deep inhalations and sigh them out. Rest for at least two minutes in this posture.