Manipura Chakra – the Solar Plexus
With “mani” meaning “jewel” and “pura” meaning “city”, Manipura literally translates as “city of jewels”. Sitting at the solar plexus or “place of the sun”, Manipura chakra, as such, contains the precious jewels to those qualities of clarity, personal power, bliss, self-assurance, knowledge and transformation
In the minds of many, yoga is associated primarily with physical exercise and strange contortions of the body, but really yoga includes the science of the body as well as an understanding of the energy levels that govern the body’s functions, a study of mind and higher states of consciousness as well as a whole philosophy to the nature and structure of the universe. No small study task! But the framework provided by the symbols of the chakras gives practitioners the ability to grasp what is happening during the evolution of consciousness first hand.
Within each of the chakras can be seen, in condensed form, the relationship between certain aspects of the physical world, the energy system, the mind and higher consciousness. For example, the third chakra, Manipura, sees aggression, assertiveness, fire, heat, digestion, assimilation and active metabolism intermix in a way that cuts across our separate concepts of what is physical, what is physiological and what is psychological. It is obvious that each of the chakras is vast in its significance and rich in meaning. The chakras are spiritual centres tuned to the cosmos found within the physical body. At the centre of this consciousness is purusha or self.
Manipura chakra is situated between the twelfth thoracic vertebra and the first lumbar vertebra, at the level of the navel. Its sense function is sight and the element associated with this chakra is fire, the field of power. Manipura is in that area of the body referred to as “the solar plexus”. It can best be described as the “internal sun” produced by the oxidation or burning of food. Unlike plants that can take their energy directly from the sun, man must produce his/her own energy. We take the energy trapped in plant matter and release it through the chemical processes of digestion. This creates the “inner flame” or fire, that provides the energy of maintaining life.
When this inner flame is properly regulated, it allows you to be healthy and to have consistent energy levels. If it is improperly regulated, it can lead to various digestive problems such as peptic ulcers, diabetes, eating disorders, hypoglycaemia and nervous disorders. If the flame is excessive and poorly centred, you will find you are irritable, hot tempered and red-faced.
The energy or drive on this level is to measure, control, categorise and quantify – to be scientific. A lot of people need this energy for stability, but it can also lead to inflexibility. The colour of Manipura chakra is yellow, the colour that feeds and gives clarity to the mind. While practising asana and during visualisation, directing yellow to this area will help you better understand your thoughts.
The ego operates on every level of consciousness but it is strongest at the Manipura level because Manipura is the seat of the intellect. Most thinking happens in the stomach, as unflattering as this may sound. The ego’s main function is to separate, and our separative egos perceive themselves by insisting that everything is “out there”.
The lesson of Manipura is therefore dealing with ego and power. Too little fire results in powerlessness; too much results in aggression and greed. But fire qualities are also seen as truth finding. They symbolise the acquiring of skill in all endeavours, the recognition of errors and, after these truths have been established, the guarding and transmitting of wisdom.
Functioning in balance, fire warms and enlightens the world. Fire also represents light, which allows us to see things. Manipura’s sense function is sight, but also encompasses “second sight” as in knowledge and wisdom.
Asanas for Manipura Chakra
Physically, the third chakra is associated with the pancreas (seat of sweetness), the solar plexus (place of fire), the spleen (seat of worry), the liver (seat of anger) and the gall bladder (seat of envy). As we work through a chain of asanas, we release negative emotions from their organ of origin and this helps to purify the physical sheath and balance the mental sheath. Pranayama also plays an important role and Kapalabhati or “breath of fire” is the best method of fanning the inner flames and creating heat in this area. The twisting asanas are most beneficial, including Parivrtta Janu Sirsana (Revolved Head-Knee Pose). Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) is also a good exercise sequence for this chakra. Both back and forward bends are wonderful for toning up and clearing this chakra too
Position: The solar plexus – rooted between the
twelfth thoracic vertebra and first lumbar vertebra
Centre: Intellect, ego, emotions, will and power, change
Gland/organ: Pancreas, digestive system, liver, spleen, stomach and small intestine
By Arlene Francois