Yoga is for everyone!
Chakra 3, Manipura is probably the most vulnerable among all the chakras in our energetic body. It has the Fire element installed in it, which is about self-will and being empowered - from the inside. Located in the Solar Plexus, this station of the soul’s journey up the stream of evolution is meant to teach us self-worth and self-referencing – meaning that you base your own value not on what others are saying or thinking about you, but on what you yourself decide is right or wrong, without infringement on the rights of others.
When the Fire element is out of balance, we often try to prop ourselves up by putting other down – this is where a major power trip happens. The Fire element can get out of balance if someone else has power over you, the longer the more out of balance. Those in professions of power (police and other authority figures) need to keep the Fire element in balance not to abuse their power over others. Any time you don’t feel equal to someone (minorities, women, children), if you are in a subservient role, or living or working in a service, your Fire element can become compromised. We need to cultivate a healthy sense of boundaries and appropriateness.
What are some signs of imbalance?
Every time we pass a judgment on someone else, and worse yet, onto ourselves, it’s like taking a fist to our Third Chakra. Every time you have a thought like that, your liver and kidneys get pummeled.
Think of this: in our society, control of our health is put in the hands of others. If you take back control of your health and life, you can find your own innate power to heal. In our culture, in business, government, organized religion, control flows hierarchically, from the top down. By losing touch with our ground we have lost the sense of our intricate connection with all life. This is how Chakra 3 and Chakra 1 are connected. We become ruled by a part instead of a whole, and furthermore a part that is isolated, fragmented and out of touch.
Manipura means a city of many jewels – those things that we hold precious to us. Labels that we attach to ourselves – I am a woman, a mother, a daughter, a Yoga teacher, a wife, etc. If we allow these labels to define us, if we let them control us, if we hold them so precious that we lose perspective of what is really important, then we cannot evolve further up the Chakra line. The Third Chakra is one of the most damaged in our society, in my view, because since early childhood we are told that someone out there is better than we are, someone else is more talented, gets better grades, is loved more by Grandma, and learn that others get to decide our value. Then we grow up and someone else gets the job, or the promotion, or the house and the car, or the trophy mate. Then we enter middle age and all of our demons come back to haunt us – have we achieved our full potential? Self-doubt literally eats our insides away.
Since the Fire element governs digestion, in the energetic sense it governs our ability to process and digest the experiences of our lives – to extract useful and vital knowledge, and discard “the waste.” If we cannot see clearly (and poor eyesight or eye problems is another sign that the fire in the energetic system is malfunctioning), we can’t learn the proper lessons that we are here to learn. Self-love and self-respect being probably the most important of them, because that’s where it all begins. How can we love another, how can we connect to another human being (coming up in Chakra Four), if we don’t have that love and connection with our Selves? In our struggle to compete, we lose sight of who we really are. The Fire element gets blocked, and energy cannot travel up or down the line.
In our Yoga practice, twists, standing postures that build heat and cultivate self-assertiveness help to keep this chakra balanced and the digestive fires burning. Abdominal exercises are good, but some people go to extremes in the pursuit of the flat, ripped stomach – obsessive self-indulgent and self-harmful behavior is one of the signs that Chakra 3 is out of balance. For digestive problems – Sun Salutations, warrior poses, Uddiyana Bandha. Those who suffer from reflux – avoid inversions, work with breath, hold poses longer. Restorative poses with twists are wonderful at quieting down the restless inner monologue.
Watch a short Yoga practice for balancing the Third Chakra