Saying the solar plexus is my “favorite,” chakra isn’t quite the right word choice, but it is definitely the energy centre I feel the greatest personal connection with.
The solar plexus chakra, known in Sanskrit as “Manipura” is the third of the seven chakras. As I mentioned in Part 1, the solar plexus is a complex network of nerves located in the abdomen, just below the sternum. If you feel where your lungs begin to separate to opposing sides, your solar plexus lies within this softer, gushy area. As you will see from gently touching the area, it is very fragile and sensitive.
This chakra is most associated with self-esteem, confidence, self discipline and willpower and is known to be the centre of our emotional core.
I first became fascinated with the solar plexus when I noticed an ongoing, severe tightness in my lower chest area last year. I had no idea where it was coming from. At this time, I was struggling with constant anxiety and difficult emotions. I didn’t realize, until later, that it was guilt and embarrassment that I was feeling. I didn’t realize it because I was not actually letting myself feel it. My feelings were literally balling up inside me, creating a super tight knot in my emotional core. I was completely blocked.
To this day, I have a difficult time releasing my emotions. Now, however, I can more often than not see what is causing this tightness in my abdomen. The moment I feel guilty or like I’ve done something wrong? Bam. If I’m not acting authentic or kindly to myself? Bam. This tightness is a defense mechanism that blocks me off emotionally; A physical manifestation of my body telling me I needing to process something. What I just described are forms of emotional stress, however other forms of stress can also trigger this sensation. I’m now realizing that I also get very tight and blocked in this area after drinking coffee.
“Every time you judge or criticize yourself, you deplete this chakra and weaken your willpower. “
It is said that a balanced Manipura chakra allows you to have control over your thoughts and emotional responses, set healthy boundaries, and be at peace with yourself.
If the solar Plexus chakra is blocked, you are likely to feel depressed, rejected, or emotionally numb. You feel the need to change yourself in order to suit others and feel more accepted because you feel a strong need for reassurance, to be “liked” and “accepted.”
A deficient manipura can include symptoms such as:
While an overactive solar plexus can result in:
Stomach ulcers, indigestion, diabetes, other illnesses tied to the digestive system can also be symptoms of an unbalanced solar plexus chakra.
“A solar plexus wound feels like you are never quite enough, you aren’t sure about your own power, and you want the security of your loved ones around you to feel centered”.
Interestingly enough, when I started to research this chakra, nearly everything I read connected an imbalance to eating disorders. If this centre drives on self esteem, this makes complete sense. Eating disorders are built around lack of self confidence and thrive off negative thoughts of self discipline and willpower.
Most of us are taught from early childhood to repress our emotions and feelings. Emotional release is not something generally supported or encouraged. Working with body energy work, and specifically with the solar plexus, has helped me begin to release emotions – a whole slew of emotions that I have held locked within me for nearly my entire life. If, like me, you struggle with releasing your emotions; if you feel a lack of self-worth, or like you simply aren’t “enough” just as you are, the following exercises may begin to help you heal these areas of your wellbeing.
Note of caution: I have experienced first hand how powerful working with this centre (and all body energy work) can be. Even some of the smallest physical movements, a simple massage or touch to a certain part of the body has the ability to unlock major emotional blockages. Some people who practice body energy work have even had memories – which had been hid away for years – resurface (its fascinating!!). If interested in body energy work, I would highly recommend looking up a local trained practitioner. “The Body Has Its Reasons,” (affiliate link) is a wonderful book showcasing the body-mind connection and the power of movement. The following are simply small exercises you may use in your day to day life to help gain a sense of inner strength, acceptance and self worth.Using breathe and movement to balance the solar plexus chakra. #selfconfidence #selfworth… Click To Tweet
“Self love, self acceptance, and acknowledgement of your own worth are the building blocks of the third chakra.”
Lie on ground on your back, as described in part 1, breathing with a released jaw and open mouth and throat. Place a small soft ball under your back across from the area of your solar plexus (mid upper back ribs). Focus your breathing toward this ball, flattening it to the ground with your ribcage. Feel your entire back rib cage expanding. Release gently through the exhale, beginning with warm air and then beginning to make sound on a voiced sigh.
Lie on your stomach, head resting in between your hands underneath your forehead. Place either a very soft ball or a rolled up sock (rolled up vertically to create a tight tube) underneath your solar plexus (base of your sternum, above your abdomen). Focus your breathe into the sock. You will feel a slight pressure in your solar plexus.
**Especially if trying this for your first time, make sure the sock or ball is very soft and not too large. Stick to only 5 minutes to begin with and then work your way up to 15. This exercise is very powerful in opening up and releasing the solar plexus – you may feel very emotional afterwards or even the next day. This is a very fragile area and although you cannot do it damage with this exercise, you may feel discomfort the following day if you do too much.
Lie on stomach. Bend knees up toward ceiling. Reach behind you to grasp right ankle with right hand, left ankle with left hand. Head comes off floor, keep neck lengthened and eyes looking toward floor. Inhale deeply into diaphragm, letting your torso rise away from the floor. Softly exhale through mouth, letting your body return and lower. Repeat rocking motion on inhales and exhales for as long as desired. Exhaling on a voiced sigh is preferred.
Lie on back with hands by your side. Raise your legs and heels, along with your head, neck and hands six inches off the floor. Press chin into chest, gazing at your feet and raise shoulders off the ground. **If this causes discomfort in your lower back, place hands underneath your bum.** Begin inhaling sharply through nose and exhaling through mouth. This may be done in increments of 5 (5 inhales followed by 5 exhales) or singular, slower inhale-exhales. Repeat for 30 seconds to a minute. Exhale should be heard. Exhaling on a voiced sigh is preferred.
Lie on stomach with forehead resting straight on the floor, big toes touching, arms bent so hands are resting on back of head. Slowly raise head, shoulders and torso off floor. Neck stays extended, eyes looking to the floor 2-3 inches in front of you. As you raise torso, inhale with open mouth and throat. Hold for 3 seconds. Lower torso and head as you exhale once again through mouth. Repeat 20-30 times. Exhale should be heard. Exhaling on a voiced sigh is preferred.
As you have probably noticed, there are many positions in a standard yoga practice that are known to help balance the solar plexus. In general, any pose that strengthens the core can help you to feel more powerful and confident. In addition to Bow pose, Warrior I and III are wonderful for accessing your inner strength and confidence. These two articles speak more about yoga asanas for balancing the solar plexus.
Interesting side note: I’m not sure if its pure irony or something more, but the warrior and bow have always been my “favorite” yoga poses – far before I even knew what a chakra was. I’ve always found them the most empowering. Also ironically – if you haven’t noticed from my blog images – the sunflower has been my favorite flower for years. I’ve never known why. I just feel a connection with it. Just the other week I learned that the sunflower – because of its yellow color – is the flower of manipura.
Now that I’ve done my fare share of research, kundalini yoga and body work practice, I realize that I may have to consciously work to keep my solar plexus open and balanced for my entire life. Some people just have an energetic make-up that leads to an imbalanced solar plexus and may very easily return to tightness and blocked emotions. If not using “chakra speak,” this simply means I may need to consciously and consistently work at strengthening my self confidence and use breathing techniques to help me stay open.
Finally I will leave you with my favorite affirmation for strengthening this chakra.
‘I am who I am. I am who I want to be.’
“I am strong standing in my personal power. I am worthy of being respected and listened to. I am. “
Have you ever had an emotional response to a specific physical movement, exercise, massage or touch?
Do you ever feel tightness in your body when you are experiencing difficult emotions?