If you are familiar with chakras, then you can tell from my logo that I love chakras. The rainbow-colored spheres within my logo are representative of the chakra system within the body.
If you are unfamiliar, here’s a quick lesson: There are seven energy centers called chakras (literally “wheels”) that store energy/life force/prana. They are along the spinal column and correlate to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column. Each has a different relationship to a gland in the body’s endocrine system. Each stimulates different organs and systems in the body. Hatha Yoga activates these energy centers releasing the energy that flows through the spine. Yoga helps these energy centers/nerve bundles to function correctly clearing blocks that may be there. Each chakra also is associated with a mental/emotional focus. In each newsletter I’ll highlight how you can work with a particular chakra to correspond with the season.
Image Credit: http://gloriagypsy.deviantart.com/gallery/25522112#/d2rhgiq
Manipura means “Lustrous gem” in Sanskrit. That’s YOU and it extends the sentiments expressed in the opening section. Inside of you is a gem—be open to life and let it out. This chakra is about transformation—meaningful change—which ties into the opening yoga quote from
Special K ™.
This chakra is the home of your willpower and is connected to your right to act. It is related to the fire element. Do you believe you have the right to act? If you don’t then your inner fire needs stoking! Take the time right now to do something—anything—physical.
Just getting your lungs filled with fresh air will do wonders to creating space in your third chakra/solar plexus area. When you take deep breaths, filling the belly, then the middle ribs, then the upper chest, you are spreading the intercostals muscles between the ribs. This creates more space in the whole rib cage and increases your ability to take in more quality, fresh, rich, oxygen-filled prana. Prana is your life force energy. This chakra holds your life force. Using breathwork to harness the power of your breath gives you tremendous power at your solar plexus.
Whenever you are standing or sitting, remember to use good posture to give your solar plexus area more space for your inner fire to grow. Sitting up, standing tall, aligning your joints—shoulders over hips, ears over shoulders—are all ways to keep not only your spine healthy, but your solar plexus chakra healthy too. Don’t fall prey to “Text Neck”:
“‘Text Neck’ is a world-wide health concern, affecting millions of all ages and from all walks of life. Widespread overuse of handheld mobile technology is resulting in a harmful and dangerous physical condition on the human body, which is known as Text Neck. Dr. Dean Fishman is a Chiropractor in Plantation Florida, and a leading health care provider for technology induced injuries. Dr. Fishman originated the phrase ‘Text Neck’ to explain the repeated stress injury to the body caused by excessive texting and overuse of all handheld electronic devices. The term, and the health condition, is derived from the onset of cervical spinal degeneration resulting from the repeated stress of frequent forward head flexion while looking down at the screens of mobile devices and ‘texting’ for long periods of time. While ‘Text Neck’ is certainly a new medical term, the condition is impacting millions and is a growing critical global concern.” http://text-neck.com/
The solar plexus area is where your “gut instinct” resides. Your gut will tell you what actions feel good, and what actions do not feel good. Do you listen to your gut? If you don’t believe you have the right to act, you are probably shutting off your gut instinct. When you don’t act upon the messages your inner awareness is communicating to you, you are basically stopping the messages from being sent. It is when you listen and do something with the messages that creates more where that came from.
If you aren’t listening and receiving your inner messages, and then acting upon what your inner knowing is telling you—you won’t know your purpose. You won’t know who you are because who you are lies within those messages. Turn them off and you’ve essentially turned yourself off. It then becomes a domino effect—when you turn yourself off you lose your self esteem. Don’t let your inner fire go out! Keep the fire burning.
Become aware of the voice inside telling you it’s time to act. Believe in your right to act, listen to your inner wisdom’s directions, and then follow your path. Your inner strength—your willpower/third chakra—provides support and guidance. You stoke your inner strength throughout your life. This power is like a muscle. Use it or lose it! It is the steadfastness of your willpower (your third chakra energy), the clarity of your intention, and the quality of your attitude that determines the nature of your passage.
Your willpower creates your transformations. You are the cause of your own reflection in the mirror. Do you feel empowered by that thought? You should be! Take some risks to develop your power. Even one small, intrepid step outside of your comfort zone will exhilarate you to do more. Keep on listening to your gut. You’ll know the next step to take, and the next, and the next.
Image Credit: http://catchingfireflies.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/04/25/cur04.jpg
Other ways to stimulate the fire element would be to surround yourself with the colors of fire: yellows, reds, and orange. What a perfect season to do that with! Just peak outside your window for the bounty of autumn’s colors and let them sink in. You can also enjoy surrounding yourself with lighted candles, lanterns, tea lights, fireplaces, or wood stoves. Increase the light in your life to stimulate more light. Open the blinds!
Since the third chakra houses your digestive system. Being aware of what you are consuming is a must. Mindful eating is, in itself, a meditation. (Scroll down to the Meditation on the go section) Using spices, such as ginger, to aid digestion is an excellent addition to a healthy diet. Here are some other ayurvedic suggestions for enhancing digestive power from an excellent article I found on Yogi Times by Aparna Khanolkar:
“Follow these simple suggestions and you should enjoy good digestion.
1. Avoid drinking cold beverages with your meal. Stick to sipping small amounts of hot water with meals. This breaks down the oils and fats and keeps your agni well-lit.
2. Eat slowly. Digestion begins in your mouth. Chewing your food is important in breaking down the food that will be digested in the stomach later.
3. Sit down and eat. That does not mean in the car while driving. Sit peacefully and enjoy the meal in silence or with pleasant conversations. After you finish your meal, don’t rush to wash dishes. Sit and enjoy the feeling of a full belly.
4. If you have sluggish digestion, eat a thin sliver of fresh ginger with a pinch of salt. Do this just before a meal. This will get your digestive acids going.
5. Eat animal protein only during the day when your fire is stronger. For dinner have soup, steamed vegetables and herbal tea.
6. A small amount of ghee is good for your agni as well. Add a teaspoon of ghee on your rice or quinoa and enjoy its sweet taste and rich flavor.
7. Eat fruit alone. Avoid the standard breakfast of eggs, potatoes and a fruit cup. Take it home and eat it 2-3 hours later. Fruit digests very quickly and if you eat it with regular foods, it will fester in the stomach and cause digestive problems.
8. Stop snacking. Each meal takes at least three hours to digest. Eating in between meals will disrupt the digestive process of the previous meal.
9. Do not mix dairy with savory foods. Milk, cheese and other dairy products also digest differently than say vegetables and pasta.
10. Eat only when you are hungry. Do not eat when you are not hungry. This means find other ways to satiate yourself when life offers challenges. Food is for self-nurturance not a way to distract ourselves from what life offers us in the way of lessons.
The body has a magnificent mechanism for processing what we eat into energy. We can support this system with self-discipline and respect for this in-built bodily function. Eating is a great pleasure. Cooking is an act of self-nurturance. Remember the Ayurvedic wisdom: Without proper digestion, nectar can turn into poison. With proper digestion, poison can turn into nectar.”
Excerpt from Agni–enhancing digestive power article by Aparna Khanolkar.
If, on the other hand, you have too much fire in your system, you need to soothe your third chakra energy. Meditation, deep relaxing breaths extending the exhale, and learning to be still are all in order.
Only you know if you need to turn the heat up or down in your life. Listening to your inner wisdom is where it all starts. When you are in-tune with your third chakra, you use the power of your will to attain the results you want. Claim your power! Claim your right to act!
“The Cleansing Affirmation
I release with strength and will,
Anything that isn’t forwarding me…
Toward my highest place of joy.
I welcome warmly into my heart,
And passionately embrace
All the goodness,
That is meant for me in this life.
I am a valued member of this universe.
It is my right to thrive, prosper and rejoice,
It is my right to enjoy the result of my work,
It is my right to stand for success.
I am exactly who I want to be,
Starting right now.”
Source: The Healing Handbook, A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation ~ Jodi Levy
“Your solar-plexus energy centre is the source of your imagination, your vision of the future and your desire for action.” ~ Swami Saradananda
Uddiyana Bandha is an important practice for the Manipura chakra. The belly lock held throughout class is different than the practice of Uddhyana Bandha described here: Stand with your feet a little more than hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and rest your hands on your thighs. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale forcefully through your mouth. When your lungs are completely empty, draw your diaphragm up toward your throat while holding your breath. Hold for as long as you feel comfortable and take a deep breath.
Contraindications for breath hold: hypertension, glaucoma, sinus/head infection, pregnancy, asthma, cardiac/circulatory, and anxiety disorders.
In addition to using ginger for digestion, as recommended earlier, turmeric, cumin, fennel, black pepper, cayenne, cloves and peppermint are also excellent to add to your arsenal. Whole grains such as quinoa and millet are excellent, gluten-free choices with a low glycemic index.
Aromatherapy and Manipura Chakra:
Young Living Essential Oils™ for the Manipura Chakra : Solar Plexus Chakra (Spleen) / “I CAN” /
As this chakra has to do with your gut instinct, power and control,
oils that will help to balance and open this chakra are Juniper,
Surrender, Release, Sacred Mountain, and Dream Catcher. Rub one drop
in clockwise direction on stomach (upper abdomen), rub hands together
and inhale 3x.
Also try: chamomile, bergamot, fennel, and peppermint.
If aromatherapy interests you, I use Young Living Essential Oils™ which are therapeutic, food-grade oils. Please inquire if you are interested in purchasing a favorite scent and I can add your request to my personal monthly order. Essential oils raise the vibrational frequency of the body. When the vibrational frequency of the body drops, we become more receptive to ill health: http://justalist.blogspot.com/2008/03/vibrational-frequency-list.html. Therapeutic-grade essential oils are great to have in your arsenal of health promoting natural products.
Gem therapy and the Manipura Chakra: Gemstones amplify the energy when placed in contact with your chakras. For those of you unsure on this subject, consider that it’s scientifically proven that everything is energy. Nothing is really solid. Why wouldn’t the energy of a stone work effectively with the energy in our bodies just as some research speculates that the energy of computers, cell phones, and microwaves may affect our bodies? At the very least, I find that holding a favorite stone is like a talisman for me, or a “worry stone”. As my favorite author, Wayne Dyer, likes to say, “If it’s a placebo effect, I’ll take two”.
Some Manipura Chakra gems are: Aventurine Quartz, Yellow Citrine, Amber, Gold Topaz, Fire Opal. Green Jade, among others.
If gem therapy interests you, you can find a great selection at www.crystallinelight.com or you can also link to her Web site from my links page at www.betterdayyoga.com. I’ve known Jennifer, the owner, for many years and love her products (and her)!
Yoga poses for the Manipura Chakra: All yoga poses essentially activate the chakras. Some yoga poses to stimulate the Manipura chakra include: rotated triangle, spinal twists, plant pose, locust pose (highlighted above), and belly rolls, Uddhyana Bandha, among others.