We're more than a month into New Year’s resolution season. How's it goin'? Need a little more oomph in your resolution? Here comes Manipura, our Solar Plexus chakra to the rescue.  

Manipura is the seat of our will. Residing at the navel or solar plexus as it’s often called, this chakra allows us to manifest accomplishments, action and your will embodied. If your dewy New Year’s resolutions are faltering, you may need to re-up your Manipura. That is, with the notion that your intentions are clear and aligned with your highest calling, always an open question. Nonetheless, onward.  

In the third installment of a seven-week series here on MindBodyGreen, I'm taking a closer look at each of our chakra centers. I’m approaching the chakras, an inherently new-agey sounding concept, from a practical, “let’s get down to business,” and how this matters to me kind of way.  
 
When you look at the chakras, and the psycho-spiritual questions that each center asks us to consider, what you really have is a practical way to figure out what it is that you want to create in your life and, importantly, what might be blocking you from getting there.   

If you missed the first two on this series, about the Root and Sacral chakras, Muladhara, click here to catch up.  
Rising from the second chakra upward, the third chakra is Manipura in Sanskrit.  
 
Color associated with Manipura: Orange 
 
Mantra: RAM  

Element: Fire 

Location in the body: At the solar plexus, near the navel. 

Recently, at a workshop inspired by the teachings of r.r. Shakti in an exercise to emphasize Manipura, she asked us to sternly say, “RAM,” as we stamped our palms forward in a “no” position to the person standing in front of us.  

We complied with our very best “RRAM!” Nonetheless, our nearly all female group (minus my husband, sorry babe) giggled as we RAM-ed. Why? 

Why? What is it about asserting ourselves, even in a practice session as this that made us giggle as an expression of our discomfort? Granted, it’s an exercise and we knew that premise. But to look deeper, stepping into Manipura requires us to exert our boundaries that may be culturally uncomfortable, or unintuitive at the least. When your solar plexus chakra is out of whack there are some common symptoms you may observe. Important to keep in mind the chakra can be out of balance in either way: overblown (excessive) or deficient.

Out of balance: When our energy in Manipura is excessive or overblown, we may struggle with anger, the need to control and dominate others and egoism.   
 
When we are deficient in Manipura, we have difficulty defining what our will really is, and/or exerting this will into the external will. This can happen on a micro level in failing to represent your self honestly in a one-on-one conversation, or on a grosser level, as staying stuck in a job you hate because you’re afraid to take a leap of faith toward your passion.  

In balance: When Manipura is balanced, we feel rooted in our selves, with balanced self-esteem, the fire to manifest when need to, and retreat to find balance. We can overcome inertia, but still rest in a place of warmth, ease without deference to status, wealth or power. Manipura is translated to mean “lustrous gem.” We can see our ego’s seat as this gem. There when we need it, but we’re able to set it to the side to achieve higher aims of the soul.   
 
Manipura restoring practices 

1. As I described above, give r.r. Shakti’s recommended Manipura exercise may give you a good indication of where you are in this chakra center if you are wavering. That I giggled when she gave this simple instruction, told me I had some stuff to deal with. Why couldn’t I just RAM and throw my palm out, with seriousness, force, even in what was an exercise? Good stuff. 

2. Sit in your meditation seat. Visualize your navel radiating out fiery embers. Sit with this meditation: “May I be able to honor myself, be who I am in the world and express that power without fear.” See what comes. Welcome your fear and allow it to integrate into your being. To embody powerfulness is not to deny fear, it is to recognize it, wave at it even (“hi fear, I see you…”) and then do it anyway.  

3. If you already practice pranayama in your yoga practice, Kapalabhati breath will stoke your third chakra. This is also a good time of year to practice fire-breath, ayurvedically speaking. (Note: Pranayama is best undertaken with direct transmission of a knowledgeable teacher. There are contraindications practitioners should heed before taking up pranayama). 

4. If you think you have too much fire and need to quell those flames… If you are a yogin, approach your practice without a goal. And for heaven’s sake if you are doing hot yoga, ditch it. It’s not working for you. Take your life and let go around the edges of your rigidity. Close your eyes, come into a meditation seat. See what comes to your mind and let the edges of those thoughts soften, like they are cartoon thought bubbles. Let go of goals, and instead find intentions.  
 


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