MANIPURA CHAKRA

Confluence of Fire, Water, Air and Earth Elements

This chakra in Sanskrit language is called manipura chakra मणिपुरचक्र and in English language, it is referred as the Solar Plexus. Irrespective of the language it translates into or the point of origin, it is this chakra, from where the energy starts manifesting itself in various forms and these forms can be engaged to get the desired results. Irrespective of what the texture of work may be, these energies when activated can lead to accomplishment of anything. If not, there would be struggle in each and everything in your life, right from the basic requirements to the more advanced needs. This chakra is responsible for valour and courage. Comparably, it can also be stated that this chakra is responsible for the confidence in oneself and its abilities to accomplish the things.

A person who has activated manipura chakra lacks no confidence to undertake a task. The ability to accept and then learn is a perfect example of “valour and courage”. Located above the navel, manipura is translated from the Sanskrit language, meaning the “city of jewels” and is also alternatively translated as “resplendent gem” or “lustrous gem”. Manipura is often associated with the colours, namely, yellow, blue in classical tantra, and red in the Nath tradition.

Manipura is associated with fire and power of transformation. It is said to govern digestion and metabolism, as it is home to agni and the vital wind samaa vayu. The energies of prana vayu and apana vayu (inward and outward flowing energy) meet at the point in a balanced system.

Manipura is the home of coeliac plexus, which innervates most of the digestive system. In chakra-based medicine,

  A Comprehensive Guide to Kundalini and Chakra Yog

3

 

Manipura Chakra: Confluence of Fire, Water, Air and Earth Elements

 

 

This chakra in Sanskrit language is called manipura chakra मणिपुरचक्र and in English language, it is referred as the Solar Plexus. Irrespective of the language it translates into or the point of origin, it is this chakra, from where the energy starts manifesting itself in various forms and these forms can be engaged to get the desired results. Irrespective of what the texture of work may be, these energies when activated can lead to accomplishment of anything. If not, there would be struggle in each and everything in your life, right from the basic requirements to the more advanced needs. This chakra is responsible for valour and courage. Comparably, it can also be stated that this chakra is responsible for the confidence in oneself and its abilities to accomplish the things.

A person who has activated manipura chakra lacks no confidence to undertake a task. The ability to accept and then learn is a perfect example of “valour and courage”. Located above the navel, manipura is translated from the Sanskrit language, meaning the “city of jewels” and is also alternatively translated as “resplendent gem” or “lustrous gem”. Manipura is often associated with the colours, namely, yellow, blue in classical tantra, and red in the Nath tradition.

Manipura is associated with fire and power of transformation. It is said to govern digestion and metabolism, as it is home to agni and the vital wind samaa vayu. The energies of prana vayu and apana vayu (inward and outward flowing energy) meet at the point in a balanced system.

Manipura is the home of coeliac plexus, which innervates most of the digestive system. In chakra-based medicine, practitioners work in this area to promote healthier digestion, and elimination of impurities in pancreas and kidney for improved adrenal function. Weak agni (fire) in the coeliac plexus leads to imperfect digestion of food, thoughts and emotions, and is a source of ama (toxicity).

 

तनमध्येसित्रिनीस: प्राणवविलसितायोगिनमयोग़मायालुतातनपमेय: सकल:सर्जिनम: मेरुमध्याताराअशठानमभित्वडेडिप्यातेतड-ग्रथन:रसायनसुधा-बोध:-स्वरूपा-तनमध्येब्रह्मनाड़ीहरमुख:-देवन्नत्रआत्मा

 

For the sake of understanding the above Sanskrit verse, which illustrates the positions, functioning, relevance and significance of this manipura chakra, here is a broad translation.

“Inside her is citrini, who is lustrous with the lustre of the pranava and attainable in yoga by yogis. She (citrini) is subtle as a spider’s thread, and pierces through the lotuses which are placed within the backbone, and is pure intelligence. She (citrini) is beautiful by the reason of these lotuses which are strung on her. Inside her (citrini) is the brahmanadi, which extends from the orifice of the month of hara to the place beyond, where Adi-deva is”.

Manipura is represented with a downward-pointing red triangle, signifying the tattva of fire, within a bright yellow circle, with 10 dark-blue or black petals like heavily laden rain clouds.

The fire region is represented by the god Vahni, who is shining red, has four arms, and holds a rosary and a spear. Vahni is making the gestures of granting boons, or favours, and dispelling fear. He is seated on a ram, the animal that represents Manipura. Agni is referenced later as well, as Hinduism altered over a period of time. Fire is the dominant element in this chakra, but as described in the title itself, this chakra is the confluence point of fire, water, air and earth. This is so because, anything and everything to have a shape, needs at least these four elements. Of course, the importance and contribution of ether and space can never be discounted, for that shape to be relevant and significant. This chakra apart from the inward energies is dependent on the vision for its functioning. The sense of butterflies in the stomach upon witnessing something which isn’t anticipated can be taken as an example to understand the relevance of vision for defining the functioning of this chakra.

This chakra receives and transmits energy into ten different channels, each one of which has its own phonemes, which is also reflected by the various assimilations occurring in this chakra. Shunya mudra शून्यमुद्रा is a mudra which is formed in the hand. While focusing on this chakra, the entire emphasis should be on two things, viz. the energy travelling post the formulation of the mudra and the effect it is generating in the chakra. One should be able to observe the desired changes, and if the changes are not visible, an express methodology should be applied to realise it. This is so because engaging in any exercise without its recognition is a “total waste” of time and energy.

Manipura is considered the center of dynamism, energy, will power इच्छाशक्ती, and achievement, which radiates prana throughout the entire human body. It is associated with the power of fire and digestion, as well as with the sense of sight and the action of movement. While meditating on manipura, one is assumed to attain the power to save, change or destroy the world. The position of manipura is stated as being behind the navel. Sometimes, a secondary chakra called surya (sun) chakra is located at the solar plexus, whose role is to absorb and assimilate prana from the sun. Being related to the sense of sight, it is associated with the eyes, and being allied with the movement, it is associated with the feet.

In the endocrine system, manipura is said to be associated with pancreas and outer adrenal glands (the adrenal cortex). These glands create important hormones which are beneficial for digestion converting food into energy for the body, just like the way manipura radiates prana throughout the body.

The very basic understanding of the levels of activation or blockage of this chakra can be evaluated from the receptiveness of the taste buds in tongue and/or by the formulation of saliva, whether it is thick, normal, less or more. You must have noticed that some people even spit while speaking. This is a reflection of dysfunctional manipura chakra, as when problems of digestion exist there is a sense of confusion—discernibly, there is a change in the way saliva is formed in the mouth. The cleanliness of tongue is also attributed to the functioning of this chakra. If this chakra is activated, there shall be no bad odour in the mouth and the tongue would bear a light pink colour. People try achieving this in a cosmetic way also, but in the natural course, if manipura chakra is activated, the mouth would be free from germs and any bad smell. Interestingly, the person would be observant even for minute variations in taste thereby suggesting the sensitivity of taste buds.

The second organ to observe and monitor, to understand the strength of the manipura chakra, is by evaluating the normalcy in vision. Concerns like, a person having weak eyes, formation of slush in the eyes, dryness in tear glands, redness in the eyes, sleep related problems, and characteristics of dreams, could be assessed by understanding the behaviour of this chakra. Primarily, the above outlined discomforts would make a pitch for a definite prognosis by a teacher/guru to suggest a suitable method/technique to be adopted for the activation of manipura chakra. As there is no rule of “one size fits all” in chakra, yog and/or kundalini yog, it is by the wisdom and experience of a teacher/guru, that you shall be able to achieve the desired result.

When manipura chakra is out of alignment, digestive issues arise. This could be evident in the form of improper processing of nutrients, constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome. Eating disorders, ulcers, diabetes, issues with the pancreas, liver, and colon are some of the symptoms of imbalance in this energy center of manipura chakra. An imbalance can also cause severe emotional problems. It can start with doubt and mistrust towards people in your life, and continue in the form of worrisome behavior about people’s perception about yourself. Some people may even experience low levels of self-esteem, resultantly searching for continuous confirmation and approval from others. This imbalance may lead to unhealthy attachments with people in your life. Activating manipura chakra cultivates a willingness to gain insights into the understanding of power, individuality, and identity. In some people, a misaligned solar plexus chakra can make skilful self-expressions challenging. In others, it may be manifest as overly rigid, displaying a controlling behaviour. Also, it may breed a victim’s mentality, neediness, and lack of direction or self-esteem to stand up and take recourse to a positive action.

As mentioned above, in manipura chakra, there are ten main nerves which blend (and also impact in a standalone mode), which as per dakshin maargiy दक्षिणमार्ग़िय, is a reflection of ten main forces शक्तीरूप. These main forces शक्तीरूप are responsible for ten most crucial facets of your life, namely:

  1. Worldly

  2. Societal

  3. Family

  4. Wealth

  5. Health

  6. Children

  7. Profession

  8. Fame and Recognition

  9. Intellect and Education

  10. Personality and Smartness  

All the above listed dimensions could be augmented if one is able to stimulate and activate the manipura chakra. Although, it may sound too simplistic to be true, yet never discount the fact that what you are, what you think, and what you do, is all because of these energies, and in case you would like to improve upon the things, change the nature/behaviour at source and the result would be visible in itself. The ten kinds of energies which are influenced by this manipura chakra include:

  1. Praan प्राण

  2. Aapaan आपान

  3. Smaan समान

  4. Udaan उदान

  5. Vyaas व्यास

  6. Krum क्रूम

  7. Dhananjay धनंजय

  8. Prtaksh प्र्त्क्श

  9. Aprtaksh अप्र्त्क्श

  10. Sukshm सूक्ष्म

Also, there are seven major types of unformulated energies which emerge out of this chakra. These energies then take the shape of infinite number of things/formations which accordingly define life and the results obtained thereupon. These seven forms are named as:

  1. Kaali काली

  2. Kraali कराली

  3. Manoliva मनोलिवा

  4. Sulochita सूलचिता

  5. Dhumvarna धूम्रवरन

  6. Safulingini सफुलगिनी

  7. Vishavruchi विश्वरुचि

As described earlier, fire is the most dominating element in this chakra, and for fire to be there, there needs to be a correct amount of friction and space. If there is friction and there is no space, there shall be no fire and if there is too much space, the amount of fire generated would be trivial. In yog and more so in chakra yog and kundalini yog, physical body is just to assist in the stimulations, supposed to be done subtly. It is this energy body, where all the life energies dwell and behave from. The chakras are the confluence points of these energies. We can envisage them as battery banks, which need to be charged so that they can release the chakra. In chakra yog, this is what is achieved. We charge these chakras, which can be used as and when the need arises. Fire is the dominant element of the manipura chakra. However, there are additional elements attached to this element. For any of the other element/s to engage in a role or establish significance on to the energy body, the fire element needs to be regulated for both the generation and the release. It won’t be wrong to assume this to be the innuendo of the regimes associated with the manipura chakra. One can feel the rise of this heat within when one engages in physical yog, mantra recitation, or naad kriya. If no such experience is felt, I would urge you to check and take corrective measures.

As described above, valour and courage are the most dominating virtues which arises post activation of this chakra. There is no discounting the fact that these two virtues would be in dire need even when you would want to activate this chakra or as a matter of fact any chakra, so as to induce the body do what it is trying to resist and keep repeating it time and again. For this to materialize, you have to have a strong zest for the thing, or else you would be inclined to enhance your energies beyond their present state. There are few species, including floor and fauna, which have the provision of regulating the heat within. We humans are not one of them. However, the variations that we see around or terminology like “dysfunctional” is because it is not conventional on our part to have lower levels of heat than the natural benchmark. And yes, there is no doubt when this chakra is activated, you can increase or decrease the fire element, post having control over it, but that would require a certain and specific expertise. To achieve this, the component of mastery is of paramount importance. Undoubtedly, it is not a time-based thing. It can happen much sooner than you would anticipate or may not happen at all. What amongst these would hold true with you would depend on your approach and a diligent analysis by your teacher/guru. Which element is more assisting and which is repulsive and how the repulsive one can be circumvented, would be subject to the activation of manipura chakra of your teacher/guru which in turn would facilitate his/her sensing of your energies and subsequently suggesting a suitable path that would be most productive and less time consuming for yourself.

When manipura chakra is in a healthy alignment, it eliminates insecurity. This leads to recognition of inherent power and the feeling of empowerment. Connecting with a strong purpose in life enhances a deeper understanding of the individual contributions while measuring success. This brings prosperity in personal and professional life. Letting go of negative things becomes easier since dependency on others is reduced. There is a marked improvement in recognising self-worth rather than focusing on material things. This positive transformation is brought about by consistent practice to investigate and identify the symptoms of blockage. A well- balanced solar plexus chakra enables us to effectively plan and achieve success. Cleaning and opening this chakra can transform a person into a better leader and create an inspiring life by repeating positive affirmations about personal power. Through repeated affirmations, either by asserting out loud, or in our heads, or by writing them down, we help reverse negative thought patterns and replace them with the constructive ones.

Your focus, manifestation, ambition, and paramount virtues of fear and/or gain are derived from the solar plexus. When we are out of balance here, we may face control issues, hypersensitivity, action imbalances, and issues with our health in the form of anxiety and blockages in digestive system. Fear and augmentation of negative responses prevent us from moving beyond the built up negative space and rather than keeping us safe, they prohibit us from healing in our desire, thought and fear. Solar plexus is the source from where people receive the incoming energies.

Breathing is a phenomenon of discharging emotions in tense situations. The tool combines the power of heart and gut to enable you to shift emotion and physiology right in the middle of a strong reaction. Record and write down irrelevant and non-conclusive thoughts you may have and more positive attitudes you wish to have. Guide yourself with alternative perspectives you think could help. For example, while pursuing a nemesis in our life that redirects the flow of our objectivity, we can choose breath—breath love, breath appreciation, breath compassion or breath excitement—and experience the same. Following the experience, you shall be returning to coherence and also feeling and sensing as being framed in your attitude.

Now, since you have got some sense of the chakra which you aspire to stimulate and activate, let us understand the process to achieve the desired goal.

 

Breathing स्वाँस

Breathing exercise plays an important role in this chakra as holds true for all the other chakras. For achieving the desired stimulations in this chakra by breathing, sit in a relaxed manner in padma aasan पद्माआसन, and inhale and hold your breath in the lungs and feel the push (under no circumstances, you should try to hold it beyond your controllable limits). Subsequently, take that sense of push to your navel area and hold it there for as long as you can. Now, exhale very softly and slowly. Relax for a while before repeating the exercise again. Following the accomplishment of this exercise and anything less than having sweat on your forehead area, would not extend much benefits. So, would urge you to do it with full sincerity and for an extended period.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.1: Padma Aasan पद्माआसन at Page No. 68)

 

Physical Yog योग

Uddiyan Bandh उद्यानबंध

For this aasan, you need to be standing straight with an erect back. Now, bend till the levels that your palms are resting on your bent knees. While maintaining this position, contract your belly inwards (do not engage breath to do this, it has to be contracted using the abdominal muscles only). It doesn’t matter if you are not able to do it completely the first time. With regular practice, you would be able to perform it in the correct way. This aasan is believed to be extremely beneficial in improving digestion and curing constipation to a large extent.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.2: Uddiyan Bandh उद्यानबंध at Page No. 68)

 

Kapalbhatti कपालभाटी

For performing this aasan, you can choose to be either in sidh aasan सिद्धआसन or padma aasan पद्माआसन. Increase the breathing rate, which means you have to inhale and exhale as fast you can. However, in both the cases, the muscles in your abdominal area should either contract or stretch. Doing this exercise without engagement of the abdominal muscle would be a waste of time and energy with no fruitful results. This exercise when done in a correct manner, helps in the release of toxins from body and also aids in relieving body and mind of stress.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.3: Kapalbhatti कपालभाटी at Page No. 69)

 

Lom Vilom लोमविलोम 

For this aasan also, you can choose to sit in either sidh aasan सिद्धआसन or padma aasan पद्माआसन. Engage your thumb to press your right nostril and inhale from the left nostril. Here onwards, while exhaling, use your ring and little finger to press the left nostril and breathe out from your right nostril. Repeat this exercise as many times as you can while maintaining the stretching and contraction stance of your abdominal muscles.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.4: Lom Vilom लोमविलोम at Page No. 69)

 

Virbhadhra Aasan वीरभद्रआसन

This aasan derives its name from a form of Lord Shiva, namely, Virbhadhra. In this form, Lord Shiva is in an angry mood. For performing this aasan, stand straight with an erect back and then move your right leg forward and bend its knee. While holding this position, stretch your head with spread fingers of your hand over your head as if one is trying to catch something. Breathe fast and heavy while maintaining this pose. Continue the breathing as long as you can comfortably and then return to the standing position. Now, relax and repeat the exercise with left leg forward. Do ensure that the time period for both the legs remains the same and uniform number of breaths are inhaled and exhaled with either of leg stretched forward.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.5: Virbhadhra Aasan वीरभद्रआसन at Page No. 70)

 

Viprit Virbhadhra Aasan विप्रीतवीरभद्रआसन

For performing this aasan, you need to be standing straight with an erect back. Now, from this position, stretch your legs sideways till you are comfortable holding on to that position. Now, turn your torso towards the right leg and raise your right hand above your head while keeping your left hand on the thigh or knee of the straight and stretched left leg and bend the right knee. Let your head follow your hand making and bend a little backwards as if you are watching the fingers of your right hand. Hold on to this position while maintaining a heavy and hard breathing. Hold as long as you are comfortable and then return to the position of stretched legs while keeping the torso straight. Relax before performing this exercise on the other side. This aasan has proven beneficial in providing strength to the legs, abdominal area and shoulders in addition to extending flexibility.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.6: Viprit Virbhadhra Aasan विप्रीतवीरभद्रआसन

at Page No. 70)

 

Trikon Aasan त्रिकोणआसन

For performing this aasan, you need to stand straight with an erect back. Now, stretch your legs sideways to the position as you are comfortable holding it there and able to balance yourself. While in this position, move your right arm to the back of your right leg in a manner that you are able to hold the heel of your right leg and move your left arm over your head and place your head in a position as if you are following your left arm and are able to see the fingers of your left hand. Hang on to this position while holding the breath inside you. Hold this position for as long as you can before returning to the standing position with your legs stretched sideways. Relax your body and try to breathe normally, before repeating this exercise on the other side. This aasan helps in improving digestion and provides great relief from stiff legs and hips and has also been found beneficial in easing sciatica pain.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.7: Trikon Aasan त्रिकोणआसन at Page No. 71)

 

Ardh Chandra Aasan अर्धचंद्रआसन

For performing this aasan, you need to stand straight with an erect back. Following this, stretch your legs sideways. From this position, turn your torso towards the right side and bend the right knee, with your left leg almost stretched. Here onwards, bend your back forward and try to touch the ground on your right side with yourself facing the same way. Hold this position for as long as you can while ensuring that there is no breathlessness. Now return to the standing position with legs stretched sideways. Relax and repeat the exercise on the other side.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.8: Ardh Chandra Aasan अर्धचंद्रआसन at Page No. 71)

 

Utihaprasarvkon Aasan उतिहापर्सर्वकोणआसन

For performing this aasan, you need to stand straight with an erect back and stretch your legs sideways in a comfortable position. Now, bend your right knee and with your right hand, the ground on the backside of the right foot and stretch your left hand over your head in such a manner as if you are trying to touch the ground (do not stretch too far as you may sustain injury; only stretch to the levels that you can hold for a good amount of time). Hold on to this position as long as you are comfortable with while maintaining normal breathing levels. Then, return to the standing position and relax and repeat the same exercise on the other side. This aasana gives strength to the shoulders, collar bone, and also improves chest strength.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.9: Utihaprasarvkon Aasan उतिहापर्सर्वकोणआसन at Page No. 72)

 

Phalaasan पलआसन

For performing this aasan, lie down on your belly and lift yourself with bended elbows in an effort to form a plank. Try and keep your entire body in a straight line and keep your head in a forward looking position while keeping your breath normal. Maintain this position as per your comfort levels without feeling breathlessness. This aasana increases the strength of abdominal muscles in addition to strengthening legs, chest and shoulders.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.10: Phalaasan पलआसन at Page No. 72)

 

Vashishth Aasan वशिष्टआसन

For performing this aasan, you need to lie on your high side. Now, lift your body sideways using the right hand. Lift your body till the time the right hand becomes fully stretched and keep your feet joined, with one placed over the other.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.11: Vashishth Aasan वशिष्टआसन at Page No. 73)

 

Salbhas Aasan सलभसआसन

For performing this aasan, you need to lie down on your belly with arms around the waist area. From this position, lift your head, chest and legs while keeping your arms in the air. Hold on to this position for a while and try sustaining your breath as long as you can comfortably. Now, return to the first position of lying down on your belly. Relax for a while before repeating the exercise.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.12: Salbhas Aasan सलभसआसन at Page No. 73)

 

Hand Formulations बंध

As described earlier, this chakra has “fire” as the most dominating element. Among the fingers, the element of fire is represented by the ring finger. However, as is universal, the same holds true for bandha बंध too. For any energy to have any form, it needs to have at least earth, which in the case of fingers is the “thumb”. Accordingly, we form the surya mudra by touching tips of the ring finger and that of the thumb while keeping the breathing heavy, which means inhale more and exhale slowly. There is no holding of the breath involved in this.

 

(Refer to Illustration 3.13: Hand Formulations बंध [Surya Mudra) at Page No. 74)

 

Focus-based Exercises ध्यानक्रिया

For dhayan yog ध्यानयोग़, you need to sit in a comfortable position either in an aasan or in a chair or something else. Take deep breaths and exhale slowly and then gently start holding onto your breath and try and push the breath to your belly (navel area) and hold it there. You should/may feel some tingling sensations around your navel. Now, slowly release the breath. The time when you are holding your breath in the belly area, try and keep your unhindered focus there only.

 

Mantra Recitation मंत्रउच्चारण

There are ten major phonemes in this chakra.

 

RRNRNRNRNRARARARARRMRMRMRMMMM

 

Reciting in the above manner seems to have yielded better results as in regards to unblocking and stimulating of the manipura chakra. Prefer doing this recitation while sitting on the floor (you may use some kind of cushion for sitting) on an empty stomach. This is necessary for the simple reason that when recitation is executed, it should always be done on an empty stomach, as that is the time when the enzymes are at the optimum level and secondly the body is hydrated and water element is not being exercised for digesting food.

 

Naad Kriya धुनीयोग 

To be able to perform this धुनीयोग, you need to be in the most comfortable position—physically, biologically, and psychologically. Try and focus in and around your navel area, not from outside but from within the skeleton. Subsequently, try and get your hearing senses to the area of navel where the movement of energies could be heard. Keep yourself glued to that movement and hear it for as long you can.

 

Yantra Sadhna यंत्रसाधना

As described in the first chapter on chakra, you may choose to form the yantra of kundalini by using your own body, which is the common yantra for all the chakras. This is so because this yantra helps in creating and clearing the path for the kundalini to move above from the tail of the spine to the uppermost part of the skull.

 

Illustrative Representation of Aasana’s

 

     Illustration 3.1: Sidh Aasan सिद्धआसन

 

Illustration 3.2: Uddiyan Bandh उद्यानबंध

Illustration 3.3: Kapalbhatti कपालभाटी

 

Illustration 3.4: Lom Vilom लोमविलोम                            

Illustration 3.5: Virbhadhra Aasan वीरभद्रआसन     

 

    Illustration 3.6: Viprit Virbhadhra Aasan विप्रीतवीरभद्रआसन        

 

 

Illustration 3.7: Trikon Aasan त्रिकोणआसन               

 

      Illustration 3.8: Ardh Chandra Aasan अर्धचंद्रआसन       

 

Illustration 3.9: Utihaprasarvkon Aasan उतिहापर्सर्वकोणआसन                  

              

 

Illustration 3.10: Phalaasan पलआसन               

Illustration 3.11: Vashishth Aasan वशिष्टआसन                

 

Illustration 3.12: Salbhas Aasan सलभसआसन                   

       Illustration 3.13: Hand Formulations बंध [Surya Mudra)