Manipura, or the solar plexus chakra, lives in the space above your navel and below your ribs.
This third chakra is home to our ambition, our courage, and our gut instinct (literally). That space where we breathe deeply into before we do something scary. Where we summon our power to take action.
When Manipura is balanced, you have steady metabolism, easy digestion, and more willpower than you’ll know what to do with. Trying to stick to a healthy eating plan or new exercise regime? No problemo when Manipura is balanced. Quitting smoking? Boom. You are confident in yourself and your decisions, and ego takes a backseat. You make decisions out of love – not out of fear.
Trust your gut – literally.
When you have a tough decision to make, look to your solar plexus for guidance on how to act. As you think about your decision, close your eyes, hand on the solar plexus, and breathe. Notice how this chakra responds when you present it with your choices. A sinking feeling or nausea? Probably not the right way to go. Lightness and ease on the other hand – there’s Manipura leading you in the right direction. It’s so important that this chakra is freed up and balanced enough that we can access these gut feelings, and maybe more importantly, have the courage to follow them.
The bad – and the ugly:
When Manipura is overactive, it could manifest in the emotional body as anger, a need to control others, and an excess of ego. When deficient, we might experience low self-esteem, a lack of willpower, and a tendency to make fear-based decisions, rather than ones out of love or based on our gut instinct. Manipura imbalance in the physical body may lead to adrenal issues, intestinal problems, arthritis, diabetes, eating disorders, chronic fatigue, and more.
Your manipura chakra wants, and deserves, to be free and strong.
So how do we free it up?
The colour associated with Manipura is a bright golden yellow. My personal favourite colour! Do your best to surround yourself with golden hues when trying to bring Manipura into balance. That could be your clothing, your home décor (I have a golden lotus tealight holder that I love using when meditating with this chakra in mind) or even flowers. Buy yourself some sunflowers and see how much better your day gets! Hey, maybe you even go mad and dye your hair – That’s something that I can’t quite bring myself to do in the name of chakra balancing – I’d make a terrible blonde. But if you’ve got the skin tone, hey. Go for it my friend 😉
The mantra associated with this chakra is Ram. If you’re not comfortable with Sanskrit, that’s no problem. Instead – or as well as Ram – try repeating (silently or aloud) the affirmation ‘I do’ as you sit in meditation. Thanks to our work on Muladhara and Svadhisthana, we have already affirmed what we are, and what we feel. Now it’s time to look at what we do. At action.
Kapalabhati is an amazing breathing practice to invoke the third chakra. (It’s important to note that this should only be undertaken under a knowledgeable teacher. There are contraindications that you need to be aware of before you practice – for example, pregnancy and high and low blood pressure. Always check with a teacher first.)
Burn baby burn
The element associated with Manipura is fire. So if you feel that Manipura is underactive, get warm and sweaty. Drink hot tea, and include warming foods like cinnamon, soups and root vegetables. Meditate with a soft gaze on a candle flame. If you’re feeling too fiery on the other hand and you want to calm it back down, maybe back off the hot yoga for a while. Take a calming walk in the crisp morning air. Open all the windows and breathe it in. Drink a cooling glass of water. And whether over or underactive, make sure you tend to those things that make you feel like you’ve lit a fire in your belly, those things your passionate about. Don’t avoid them out of fear. Don’t overdo them because ego. Just tend to your fire and feel it come into balance.
Try utilising Matangi mudra when meditating to work on Manipura. This looks kind of complicated, but all you have to do is interlace the fingers of both hands and extend your middle fingers so that they’re touching.
Keeping this position, hold your hands close to yoursolar plexus for the duration of your meditation practice.
And of course, we have our asanas, or yoga poses. There are lots of poses that can help to bring Manipura into balance, and they will vary depending on you, your body, and your personality.
My personal favourites? The ones that scare you. Ignite that feeling of bravery and strength (in a safe environment of course) and just try. Don’t talk yourself out of it, just do. I also recommend those ‘ego poses’. We all have them. The ones we aren’t ‘good’ at. The ones that when a teacher begins to cue in class you groan inwardly (or maybe even outwardly if you really hate it). For me, it’s a simple seated forward fold, thanks to my super tight hamstrings. Maybe for you it’s a backbend, or a balancing posture. Anything you deem yourself ‘less than’ at, you need to get past. And the only way out is through! So practice on, leaving fear and ego at the door.
Other options are Sun Salutations and any asanas that ignite your core and make your upper abdominals work hard. Light that fire in your belly and feel Manipura come into its power.
So…are you ready to say I Do and light a fire in your belly?