written by: Kyneret Azizo
In the practice of yoga we acknowledge the existence of energy centers, which we call the chakras. Chakra means ‘wheel’ in Sanskrit. These spinning vortexes are junction points between our physiological and energetic bodies. Highways of energy coalesce at these centers; they transport the vital information that our body needs to properly carry out its functions. Each chakra governs various physiological functions and corresponds with different states of awareness/consciousness.
You may already know of the seven main chakras regarded in the areas of spiritual development and healing. Out of these seven, the third is called Manipura– “lustrous gem.” It is associated with transformation, personal will power and taking action in our life. Its element is fire and its celestial symbol the sun. It governs the organs of the digestive tract.
When energy at this center is flowing well, we feel more in control of our life and are able to manifest our intentions at will. We’re happy, confident, self-reliant and capable of meeting life’s challenges without resistance. Our digestive system effectively converts food into the raw energy we need to live well. As a result, we have the stamina to pursue our life passions.
When Manipura is out of balance, we lack confidence, stamina, motivation and direction. A key behaviour pattern that shows up with a weak Manipura chakra is procrastination. We’ll continually put off projects and tasks because they feel overwhelming.
On the other hand, an overactive Manipura chakra expresses itself through aggressive behaviour, anger, and the reliance on sedatives like alcohol or marijuana.
But the good news is we can influence the functioning of our chakras for the better, both mentally and physically. We have the ability to control how energy moves through these areas, which in turn improves our well-being.
Here are 4 simple ways to strengthen Manipura chakra, so you can reclaim your personal power and integrity:
1. Physical Workouts
Any kind of core exercises and aerobics workouts are known to stimulate the flow of energy for Manipura, however doing yoga might have an even more profound effect. That’s not surprising, considering that in addition to creating agility and strength in the physical body, yoga was designed to align the energy body. Your yoga practice can be a full body workout or something more gentle, but in any case, the emphasis on mind-body awareness and breathing will significantly boost its efficacy when it comes to getting prana flowing through the chakras. Maybe this is because of the mindful component and the sankulpa (intention) that is tied in with the practice. Intentions go a long way!
Some yoga poses that improve the energy flow of Manipura are:
2. Pranayama Exercises
Pranayama exercises are an effective and easy way to boost life-force energy to the chakras. One such technique that is good for Manipura, which you may already be familiar with, comes at the end of a Modo Yoga class: Kapalabhati. It is done by taking a deep inhalation through the nose, expanding the belly out, and then following through with a sequence of short and forceful exhalations through the mouth. With each breath out, the lower belly snaps back in toward the spine swiftly. This pranayama technique is purifying and tones the belly muscles, directing prana toward the solar-plexus.
3. Optimized Digestion
According to Ayurvedic principles, Manipura is linked with the organs of the digestive tract, so improving our diet and optimizing digestion will bring balance to this chakra and maintain a healthy amount of ‘agni’ (fire) in the digestive tract. Agni is necessary for food to be assimilated efficiently. A poor diet or lots of stress can dampen this fire. Doing a fast can help to reignite the flame and offset a sluggish digestive tract. As a result, our mind becomes clear, our energy levels increase and our mood improves. If consumed 20 minutes before a meal, apple cider vinegar with warm water is also an effective way to improve digestion. It helps prevent bloating and gas that result from indigestion. Sugar, on the other hand, weakens agni– avoid it as much as possible.
The mind is directly linked with the gut. A sluggish gut is a sluggish mind. In this way, it is easy to see how a chakra not only governs specific physiological functions, but also gives rise to a certain mindstate. The self-reliant, strong-willed and energetic mindstate associated with Manipura is linked with a healthy digestion.
4. Binaural Beats Meditation
Each chakra resonates at a specific frequency and can be brought into balance by listening to the frequency that matches it. I often use binaural beats when meditating on chakras and have found great success in doing so. There’s a great channel on YouTube, Meditative Mind, that’s got hundreds of meditation videos meant to align each of the chakras. Though it’s tempting to press play and doze off, more effective than listening passively is bringing our awareness to the location of the chakra and observing sensations there, gross or subtle, along with any emotions that may come up in the process.
The root of all chakra imbalances are non-physical in nature, which means our thoughts and emotions play just as much a role in reversing energetic disturbances as they do in creating them. Though we can positively affect the functioning of our chakras through all of the above mentioned practices, real healing happens when we deal with things on the emotional and mental level.
In honour of moving into the summer season, Modo Yoga Maple is holding an amazing Hot Vinyasa class on Saturday, June 22, at 3:30pm. This invigorating practice will be led by Amanda O. and will be centered around opening the solar plexus chakra. Students can use their regular pass for this class. Click here to sign up!
Kyneret has been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade. She began as a yoga teacher for Modo Yoga Maple in 2012, and has recently set off on a nomadic adventure to South East Asia. She remains active within our Modo community as a blog writer.
When not writing, she is fully immersed in the day-to-day adventures of travel life and actively seeks out as many foreign yoga experiences as possible to further her knowledge and skills! You can follow Kyneret’s travels on her instagram account @planes_trains_autoimmunity