Image credit: Benoit Mouren
The third chakra, Manipura, is our power centre and the spot for our strength and self-esteem. Since the Manipura chakra also governs the digestive organs, the beneficial yoga poses for balancing this chakra are the ones providing fire into the belly.
To balance your Manipura chakra and to strengthen the feeling of self-esteem and personal power in your life, try the following yoga poses.
1. Surya Namaskar A - Sun Salutation
Surya Namaskar, or the Sun Salutation, is a great way to generate some fire within. This is a series of yoga poses aimed at energizing the body. Start with four rounds of Surya Namaskar A to warm up the body and get the energy flowing.
Start in Tadasana, the mountain pose. Inhale arms up, and as you exhale, fold forward into Uttanasana. Inhale, straighten the legs and back, gazing forward (Ardha Uttanasana, Half standing forward bend). As you exhale, place both hands on the mat, and step one leg after the other into Chaturanga Dandasana, the four limbed staff pose. You can bring your knees on the floor to lessen the pressure on your arms. Inhale into Bhujangasana, the cobra pose. As you exhale, come up to Adho mukha svanasana, downward facing dog, either directly, or come to all fours first. Take 5 breaths in downward dog, then lift your gaze towards your hands, and take one big step forward, or simply walk your feet towards your hands. Exhale and release into forward fold, and with inhale come back up keeping the back straight.
2. Virabradrasana I - Warrior 1
Warrior pose is a sure way to feel more powerful and confident. Warrior 1 opens the solar plexus area and strengthens the legs. Start from Tadasana, mountain pose, and step your left foot back. Turn your left foot approximately 45 degrees out. Inhale your arms up, and with the exhale bend the right foot, always making sure the right knee stays above the right ankle. Keep your palms together if this is comfortable for your shoulders, otherwise keep arms shoulder distance apart, palms facing each other. Square the hips towards the front of your mat. Hold for 5 breaths, and with the next inhale straighten the legs, and exhale your arms down. Step to the front of the mat to Tadasana, and repeat with the other side.
3. Ardha Navasana - Half Boat pose
The Half Boat pose is strengthening the entire abdominal area, which in turn supports the lower back. When starting the pose, keep your awareness on your spine, and keep the spine straight. Start in a seated position, and bend your knees, feet on the floor. Keep the feet together and the chin straight. Lift your feet until your shins are parallel to the floor, and flex you feet. Make sure your back is not rounding, and try to move your spine forward towards your legs. Stretch your arms out, parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 breaths, and with the following exhale bring your feet to the floor. You can repeat 2-3 times. Avoid the pose if you have had recent back or abdominal surgery.
4. Matsyendrasana -Seated spinal twist
The seated spinal twist is a beneficial pose for the spine, and it increases circulation to the pelvic area. Start in Dandasana, and bring the left foot on the ground, over the right knee. Bend the right knee and bring the foot close to your outer hip. Place the right hand over the left knee, and lift the palm up. Place the left hand behind you. Keep the hips squared, both sitting bones on the ground and the keep the left knee pointing upwards. If you have pain in the lower back, you can allow the hips to move with the twist. With an inhale, lengthen the spine, and start the twist towards the left from the waist first. Inhale and lengthen the spine again, and twist from the ribcage. Inhale once more and lengthen the spine, and twist from the shoulders. Turn your head back, making sure there is no pain in the neck. Hold for 2-3 breaths, and on the following inhale, release your neck, and exhale release the upper body.
5. Sphinx pose
The Sphinx pose will cool down an overactive Manipura Chakra, and at the same time it tones the spine and stimulates the sacral-lumbar arch. Start by laying on your stomach, feet hip-width apart, and bring the elbows under the shoulders. If the pressure on your lower back feels too strong, bring your elbows a bit forward. If you want a deeper bend, you can place a block under the elbows. Hold the pose for 2-3 minutes, and come out by first lowering your upper body onto the floor. Relax on the floor for at least 3-4 breaths, and once you feel ready, come to a child pose for 2-3 breaths.
Enjoy the feeling of confidence and self-esteem that these poses will give you. Remind yourself "I am strong. I direct my own life and stand up for myself."
Check out our other articles in the Chakra Series: