“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler Ross
The Solar Plexus or the third chakra is the power center of our body, radiating vital prana, the sum total of all energy that manifests in the universe. Situated just above the navel, below the chest, Manipura chakra is associated with the element of fire.
Just as fire transforms solids into liquids and liquids into gas, the inner fire transforms our unconscious into conscious awareness. This chakra is your core self and represents your ability to be confident and in control of your life.
It is also associated with digestion and movement. In this respect, our emotional self and mental correlate which are found within intuition and “gut feelings.” Those who lack confidence in life, suffer from insecurity, low self-esteem or are fearful about things suffer from an imbalanced Navel Chakra.
This chakra is responsible for a healthy, spirited, warm, hearty, radiant and a strong willed person.
A guide to the Solar Plexus Chakra:
Glands/Organs: Pancreas, adrenals, stomach, liver, gallbladder and nervous system
Gems/Minerals affecting it: Citrine, Gold Topaz, Amber, Tiger Eye, Gold Calcite and gold.
Foods: Starches and yellow fruits & vegetables
Here are some yoga poses for strengthening and energising your Solar Plexus Chakra:
Paripurna Navasana/Boat pose
How to: Be seated in staff pose or Dandasana, gently bend your knees while you have your hands on the side and pressed to the floor. Following the variations mentioned in the image above, lean back slightly and lift your feet, bringing your shins parallel to the floor and lift your arms up with palm facing each other.
Take a deep breath if you can and gently straighten the knees, so that the legs form a 45 degree or a V shape. Bring your hands to the front, facing each other. Try to pull the abdomen in to support the spine and create greater balance. Hold for 5 to 7 breaths while you focus your awareness within.
Why to: As mentioned above the position of the Solar Plexus is our core area. Paripurna Navasana is a great core strengthening posture. Stimulating the digestive system, it balances the whole body and creates self confidence. Enhancing the sense of personal power, it awakens the go-getter attitude.
Ardha Matsyendrasana/ Half lord of the fishes pose
How to: Sit in Staff pose or Dandasana, now gently bend the right knee and place the right foot flat over the left leg. Now, bend the left knee and place the leg on the floor with the heel touching the right hip and toes pointing outward. The leg on the floor will point 45 degrees (refer to the image above).
Take a deep breath and twist the torso towards the right side. Place the left hand elbow outside the right knee. The right hand will be pressed to the floor, behind the hips. The spine should be erect at all times, while you hold the pose for 5-7 breaths and looking back. Gently untwist and repeat on the other side.
Why to: Targeted towards the digestive system and abdominal twisting, it accentuates the feeling of comfort and relaxes the spine and the back. Pressing the abdomen, it strengthens our will power and develops a balance in the right and left sides. Seated twists are generally directed towards harmonising the body and increasing elasticity of the spine.
Dhanurasana / Bow pose
How to: Lie on your stomach with arms by your side, palms facing upwards. Inhale, place the chin on the floor, exhale, bend your knees, so that the feet move towards the buttocks. Grasp your ankles with your hands. Inhale and lift both your chest and thighs up, while still holding your ankles. Ensure your knees do not separate and keep them hip width apart, while you continue breathing deeply at all times. With each breath press the heels back and up, gradually increasing the back bend, keeping the spine long. Hold for 5-7 breaths and slowly release the feet.
For beginners, a belt can be used to hold the ankles, if your hands do not reach the legs completely.
Why to: Generating a sense of equilibrium in the body, the whole weight along with the blood flow is transferred to the abdomen area. This movement strengthens the abdomen as well as stimulates the digestive system, thereby empowering the Manipura chakra.
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana or Upward Extended Feet Pose
How to: Lie on your back with the hands on your sides. Now, inhale and raise the hands, placing them back on the floor above your head. If you need extra support, you can place the hands underneath your hips as well with palms facing downwards. Lift your leg up gently at 30 degrees and hold for 3-5 breaths. Keep your toes flexed. Now repeat the same process at 60 degrees and 90 degrees. Hold the pose at all the three phases for 3-5 breaths or more, if you can and come back in the same pattern.
Why to: Builds the strength of the core muscles and improves posture. This pose will challenge your limits and can build massive strength in the abdominal area. By extending and lengthening the abdomen muscles, the pose will involuntarily direct the focus towards the centre as it blurs of all other distractions.
Agnisar Kriya or Churning of abdomen
Agni means fire and Sara means wash so it literally means to wash the fire chakra or Manipura Chakra.
How to: Be seated in any comfortable pose like Easy pose, Thunderbolt pose or Lotus pose, place the hands on the knees and breath in a normal, rhythmic fashion. Focus on breathing for a while, then take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Without inhaling, expand and contract the abdomen 5-10 times or more. Each time you contract, try to suck the belly in deeply, like you are touching the abdomen muscles with back muscles.
While coming back, keep a steady stance, gently and slowly inhale deeply. Take a couple of breaths and try again. Ensure that this Pranayama practice is done on an empty stomach, i.e. minimum of 4 hours of fasting. People suffering from high BP, hernia or disease related to intestines should avoid this pose.
Why to: Instantly activating the Solar Plexus, it stimulates the digestive system and is a great way to balance the Solar Plexus chakra. Helps with constipation, tones the stomach and even low appetite, this exercise generates and circulates energy in our whole body. The video below will guide you with this breathing practice..
Seed Mantra Meditation
How to: RAM (pronounced as rum) is the seed or beej mantra of the Solar Plexus Chakra. Sit away from any support in cross legged or lotus pose and take deep breaths. Visualise the colour yellow in the region of the chakra and chant ‘RAM’ three times, then chant ‘OM’ three times and feel the flow of the energy vibrating from head to toe. Now repeat the chant mentally beginning with RAM then chant OM, three times. This is one set. Continue to chant RAM and OM, till you wish to.
Why to: The seed invocation is a form of a charged mantra. The sound when chanted resonates and reaches directly to the centre of the solar plexus chakra and immediately opens it. The beej meditation will increase the circumference of the chakra and balance it. Problems and diseases related to abdomen like digestive disorders, lack of energy, anger, fear, hatred, or excessive need of authority and power can be eased out.
The postures mentioned above can be practiced by all levels of practitioners but if you wish to challenge yourself further, here are some advanced poses you can try: Pasasana or Noose pose, Standing Splits, Urdhava Dhanurasana or Upward bow pose and Nauli Kriya. While practicing these poses, try to ensure your safety first or perform under expert guidance.