Manipura is the Sanskrit term meaning ‘city of jewels’ and it is often referred as the center of our personal power, vitality and well-being. It’s a yang chakra, connected to the masculine essence, which is about igniting power and making the magic happen in life.
Manipura is associated with the color yellow and it relates to the element of fire. In the same way that the Sun radiates heat and light throughout the solar system, Manipura chakra radiates and distributes heat and prana throughout our entire body, regulating extraction, detoxification, digestion and metabolism.
Location and Connection to the Physical Body
Anatomically it is situated just above and behind the navel and governs the solar plexus of nerves and pancreas gland, which controls the digestive fires and body’s metabolism, transforming food into energy and heat. Manipura is also responsible for the function of other related organs involved, such as the liver, gallbladder, spleen and stomach.
Energy Connection to the Emotional/Mental Body
A balanced solar plexus allows us to have control over our thoughts and emotional responses, set healthy boundaries, and be at peace with ourselves.
The solar plexus is involved in self-esteem, warrior energy, and the power of transformation. A healthy third chakra supports us in overcoming inertia, overcoming fears and taking responsibility for our life by setting limits, or asking for what we need - all ways of reclaiming our power.
So along with taking responsibility for detoxification on the physical level, Manipura will aid us in detoxing and bringing back order, clarity and enthusiasm back into our life.
When our Manipura is unbalanced we experience both physical and emotional problems. Because this chakra is located near the abdomen, it affects many internal organs such as the kidneys, intestines and pancreas. Stomach ulcers, back pain and weight problems can also be attributed to an unbalanced solar plexus. This chakra is connected to our sense of sight, so we may experience blurriness with our vision.
The physical ailments have a dramatic effect on our emotional and spiritual state and if Manipura is under-active, it can lead to serious emotional problems. We may feel powerless or ineffective, which can lead to negative thoughts and despair. Anxiety and low self-esteem often accompany an under-active Manipura, bringing doubt in ourselves and our accomplishments and mistrust towards our friends and family.
However, overactive Manipura can be just as harmful. Our solar plexus can go in the overdrive when life gets overwhelming and we experience a number of significant experiences one after the other, which are difficult to process. It may become hard to get out there and deal with everyday situations, because we simply feel overstretched.
If we find ourselves judging people too harshly or have become too critical or demanding, then our Manipura could be over-stimulating our system. Anger and aggressiveness is another symptom of over-activity. This can also have a negative physical reaction, due to body re-directing blood away from the abdomen area to the muscles, in preparation for a physical confrontation, starving the organs of nutrients in the process.
How can yoga help?
Asanas that focus on core strength, such as Navasana (Boat Pose), Plank and Warrior Pose III are perfect for Manipura healing. Because of their strengthening and heating abilities, these are amazing poses for building confidence. Both a transition and as a standalone pose, Plank appears in many forms of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), so Sun Salutations will also bring fire to the abdomen, sending the oxygenated blood flowing through the body and giving us a feeling of personal empowerment.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) will generate a sense of equilibrium in the body, stimulating the digestive system, and blood flow to many of the organs. Its relationship with the liver is particularly important. In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with anger and worry, so practicing Bow Pose can help us let go of our worries thereby empowering the Manipura chakra.
For overactive Manipura, Malasana (Child's Pose) and Savasana are very soothing, and it’s also a great way relax the adrenal glands, which can get totally overworked when we are stressed. With the body still and relaxed, we can take our awareness beyond the body and the simple act of focusing our mind on a certain place can have a positive effect. Restorative, passive backbends that cool off the belly's fire will also act as calming for the third chakra excess.
As Manipura also affects our digestion, so adding twisting postures to your practice can also have a really positive effect on this space.