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The Manipura Chakra, located at the naval or Solar Plexus, is the third of the seven major chakras that lie along the Shushumna Nadi, the spine. Chakras, are swirling energy centers that are found throughout the body that are also associated with areas containing large bundles of nerve endings. Bringing your focus to these areas and practicing postures that engage and open the muscles associated with them can help to balance the flow of energy through the chakra.
Manipura is our center for personal power. This is the chakra where the energy for turning ideas into actions flows. Responsibility, self-confidence and humility all flow from here, as do inactivity, self-doubt and arrogance. Finding the corret balance in this chakra allows us to harness energy for being positive and proactive.
Postures to engage and open the Third Chakra:
Begin in Cobblers pose, Baddha Konasana, with the bottoms of the feet together and the knees relaxing towards the mat, or resting on a prop. The heels in toward the pelvis. (if you find this uncomfortable, cross the legs and begin in Easy Pose, Sukhasana.) Take a few breath to center the body and clear the mind, then slide the hands behind the body pointing the fingers away and press down through the floor. Exhale and bring a slight arch into the spine; lifting the heart and relaxing the head back to a comfortable position. Hold for 3-5 breath.
Inhale to center and slide the left leg in front of the right to Sukhasana. Bring the left arm to a comfortable position behind the body, either resting on the mat or wrapping around the body. Cross the right arm to the left knee. As you inhale, lengthen the spine, as you exhale move with control into the twist turning to look over your shoulder. Keep the weight even and let your breath flow with ease. Hold here for at least 3 breath and then exhale with control to center. Change the cross in the legs and repeat with the left hand crossing to the right knee.
Move the body to all fours, aligning the wrist under the shoulders, the knees under the hips. Lengthen the spine to create space between the crown of the head and the tail bone. On your next inhalation, come into cow pose, Bitilasana, beginning to roll the stomach towards the mat, curling the head and the hips up. Soften the throat and jaw, holding here as you move for 3-5 deep breath into the belly. Then on an exhalation move into cat, Marjaryasana, rounding the back up, relaxing the head down and tucking the tailbone under. Hold here for another 3-5 deep breath and then move on an inhalation back to neutral, parallel with the mat.,
Come in to plank pose, Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana wrist are aligned under the shoulders, legs in-line with the hips. Hold here taking 3 deep breath and then transfer your weight to the left leg, pressing through the floor. Exhale drawing the right knee in towards the chest, reaching your nose down. Hold here for three breath and then straighten your leg, toes return to the mat. Rest here in center for a couple breath, bring the knees down if you prefer. Move to the other side, bring your weight to the right and on your exhalation bring the left knee in and reach the nose down towards the knee.
Bringing the knees back down to the mat, move into position for half-knot pose, finding the variation that is most comfortable for you body today. Slide the right hand forward and turn the left palm up sliding it under the right arm as you rest the left ear and shoulder to the mat. Relax the left shoulder blade down into the mat as you find a comfortable position for the right arm, either above the head pressing down into the mat, fingertips reaching towards the ceiling or adding the bend to the elbow to slide the hand over to the opposite hip. Breathe into the stomach for five deep and abdominal breath, expanding and contracting as you breath into the twist. As you exhale, lower the arm and move with control to slide the hand out. Return to all fours take a few breath in center and then repeat on the other side, sliding the left arm forward and the right arm under. Move into the most comfortable variation on this side, listening to the body and taking deep breathes. Begin with the knees aligned under the hips, and if you feel comfortable here, try settling the hips towards the heels and see how it feels.
Moving onto our backs, move into position for bridge pose, bringing the bottoms of the feet to the floor, sliding the arms into the sides and then lifting the hips up to create space between the back and the mat. Then slide the hands under the body and rest the hips and back on top of the arms to prepare for Fish Pose,
To prepare for the Reclined Twist, draw the left knee onto the chest and hug the leg in with the right arm. If you feel tension in the lower back, then bend your right knee and bring the foot to the mat for support. As you exhale, move the left knee over to the right side of the body for the Reclined Twist, Supta Matsyendrasana. Remember that the knee can always rest on a block or the arm can support the leg if it doesn’t relax comfortably to the floor. Take 10 deep breath on this side and then repeat on the other side with the right knee moving in and then over to the left side of the body, supporting the leg however you find comfortable and holding for 10 breathes.
Remember that after you practice, allow the body some time to rest as you spend a couple minutes in Savasana, breathing into the belly, letting your energy balance and the practice to integrate.
Additional postures to practice include those that strengthen the abdominal; any boat variations (Navasana), twisting postures, Sun Salutations, warrior poses; virabhadrasana I, II and III, and inversions such as plough (halasana) and circle pose (chakrasana).
Affirmations for opening Manipura the 3rd Chakra:
I am worthy. I am capable. I am powerful. I know who I am, where I’m going and what I want and can work my way through any problem that arises. I love and respect myself. I stand up for myself and for what I believe in.
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+