How to Balance Your Solar Plexus Chakra
The Solar Plexus chakra or Manipura chakra is often referred to as the chakra of personal power. Located two inches above the navel at the base of the rib cage, it is the seat of our ego and where we draw motivation to achieve our goals. It governs our ability to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, moderates our self-esteem, it oversees our raw emotions and we draw on it for our self-discipline.
Call on Your Solar Plexus Chakra to Understand Your Emotional Self
When our Solar Plexus is unbalanced we experience both physical and emotional problems. Because this chakra is located near the abdomen, it affects many internal organs such as the kidneys, intestines and pancreas. Stomach ulcers and possible weight problems can also be attributed to an unbalanced Solar Plexus. In addition, we may suffer from back problems, lethargy and because this chakra is connected to our sense of sight, we may experience blurriness with our vision.
Note that physical ailments have a dramatic effect on our emotional and spiritual state and that if we pay attention to these energies within our bodies, we could, in earnest, take control of illnesses we feel are wreaking havoc on our bodies.
If it is under-active, it can lead to emotional problems, sometimes seriously. We may feel powerless or ineffective which can lead to negative thoughts and despair, we will doubt ourselves and our accomplishments and see mistrust within our friends and family. Anxiety and low self-esteem often accompany an under-active Solar Plexus and if we let these emotions fester, it can and will affect our other chakras, and by extension, our physical and emotional states.
Yet a Solar Plexus that is overactive can be just as harmful. Too much of a good thing, no matter how healthy or helpful it is, never good for us. If we find ourselves judging people too harshly or have become too critical or demanding, then our Solar Plexus could be over-stimulating our system. Anger and aggressiveness is another symptom of this overactive chakra. Anger is one of the more serious effects as it has a noted physical reaction. When we are angry the body re-directs blood away from the abdomen area and to the muscles in preparation for a physical confrontation, therefore, starving the organs of the Solar Plexus of nutrients.
How Anger Affects the Body
When the energy of our Solar Plexus is balanced, our outlook on life improves, criticisms and problems are easier to handle, and you have control over your emotions and your thoughts. The ego is easier to handle. You will understand and accept your inner peace and radiate that acceptance outward, coming to appreciate people and things around you. When balanced, our Solar Plexus gives us confidence in ourselves and our performance. We feel accomplished and proud of our work and achieving our goals. We create an emotional focal point.
The Solar Plexus Chakra is connected to the sense of sight. It is thought that nearsighted people may an over-abundance of fear or insecurity, while those who are far-sighted hold unresolved anger or guilt. We can draw on our personal power to help stimulate the chakra. Exercising our self-discipline not only brings us closer to our goals, but strengthens our chakra and allows us to digest the more unfavorable situations and negativity in our lives.
See the Solar Plexus Light at the End of the Tunnel
Stimulating the Solar Plexus is as easy as taking a walk and observing a sunset or sunrise. Visit a park or just watch the stars. Observing the many colors in our world can stimulate and reinforce more than one Chakra point.
Color is an important part of Chakra therapy. Just like sound vibrations, each color has a corresponding wavelength.
A simple way to fortify or help keep your chakras balanced is to wear clothing or an item of the corresponding chakra color. Try this exercise: as you go about your day, periodically think about the color you’re wearing. Imagine that color infusing into the corresponding chakra point. See it in your mind, blending with your body, soaking into your skin. Take several deep breaths, exhaling all the air out of your lungs. Do this several times a day, or when you happen to remember. It will go a long way in helping you to condition your mind to balance your energies.
You can also try the meditation exercise above with any of the colors below to balance their respective chakras:
- Red/black for the Root
- Orange for the Sacral
- Yellow for the Solar Plexus
- Green for the Heart
- Blue for the Throat
- Indigo for the Third Eye
- Violet for the Crown
How to Balance Your Solar Plexus
There are as many different ways to balance our chakras as there are people in the world, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some people like to sit and meditate, using sounds and smells to relax and re-energize, while others may chose exercise or participating in other activities that stimulate our points. Whichever way you chose, make sure that it’s right for you. If you feel uncomfortable doing a yoga position, try listening to music and focusing on how your body responds, or if you are more energetic, a good hike or riding a bike might be better suited. This is the important part; listen to your body. It will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
To nourish your spiritual side, try volunteering or taking a class; learn something new. This nourishes our mind and spirit.
Solar Plexus Balancing Tools
Stones of yellow hue are best to use. Crystals such as amber, citrine, golden or honey calcite, yellow sapphire are just a few. Wear or place these crystals on your body as you listen to meditative music, or carry them in your pocket.
Using sound as part of your chakra balancing is a soothing and relaxing way to release the tension and blockage within our bodies. Either by ‘toning’ which is using a specific vowel sound, drawing it out in a tone of voice you feel comfortable using. For the Solar Plexus, the sound of ‘oh’ should be used.
A Bijas mantra is different and can be used as well. The Bijas for the Solar Plexus is RAM.
The Solar Plexus helps with mental clarity as well as learning new things. Try taking up a new hobby or playing games that stimulate and sharpens your mind. These are excellent ways to keep this chakra open and balanced.
While the majority of these suggestions concentrate with feeding our emotional and mental side, we need to think of our body as well. Keeping the body healthy with the right food and good exercise can also keep the chakras balanced and the energy flowing. Consider eating foods that are yellow, such as some squash, yellow bell peppers and lemons. Fruits and vegetables of this color contain antioxidants such as lutein. Research suggests that lutein along with other plant basted antioxidants, may reduce the risk of chronic eye disease.
Yoga Poses to Balance the Solar Plexus
Stimulate and balance your solar plexus with full yoga classes or individual poses, listed below.
Yoga Classes on Gaia
- Third Chakra Yoga Practice
- The Healing Elements: Fire: The Third Chakra
- Authentic Power: Enlivening the Third Chakra
The Glass Ceiling of Yoga: Body Positivity
The picture of a serene and beautiful yoga community that is celebrated by the media actually disguises a disturbing layer of normalized and ubiquitous body type discrimination. However, by unveiling a previously “invisible” glass ceiling over the Western yoga community, students, teachers, and administrators can find ways to effortlessly mold body-positive practice spaces for current, new, and future yoga practitioners.
Gender vs Body Type
I’ve encountered a lot of glass ceilings in my life. Honestly, when you’re black, queer, and born with female genitalia, you encounter them constantly and I’ve grown to expect situations wherein boundaries and limitations are the norm. However, there’s a glass ceiling that limits our Western yoga community to a troubling degree and it’s something I never expected to encounter. I mean, when “glass ceilings” are typically identified in Western society, they are almost invariably related to gender.
Ironically, the yoga community doesn’t really suffer from a gender glass ceiling, at least not one that negatively effects women.
Even though women weren’t taught asana until the 20th century, the vast majority of Western yoga teachers and students are female. And while discrimination against male yoga students and teachers is probably more common than any of us could imagine, it’s still not the most expansive and divisive glass ceiling in the yoga community.
No, the real ceiling within our community is based entirely upon physical presentation and, specifically, body type.
This ceiling is clear as day to those of us who have atypical yoga practitioner bodies. Instead of being slender, white and heaped with physical ability, there’s a growing wave of yoga teachers and students who are plump, multiethnic and powering through life with a wide range of disabilities. However, those of us who challenge the white washed yoga teacher stereotype face a very different practice landscape than our colleagues. For example, it’s inappropriately common to hear a story about a yoga student being shamed out of a yoga studio, based upon comments made by discriminatory yoga teachers and students.
In some communities, it’s nearly impossible for atypical yoga teachers to find teaching opportunities. And even when teaching opportunities are available, they are not on par with options for more traditionally bodied teachers. This problem is well documented within small communities of “different” yoga teachers, but it’s essentially invisible to those who don’t see themselves as “different”. And, what’s worse, there are way too many practitioners and teachers who don’t see this kind of discrimination as a problem. Thus, an “invisible” glass ceiling has domed over our community, and only those who have been discriminated and oppressed are fully aware of its existence.
What Does This “Glass Ceiling” Actually Look Like?
Here’s the thing, no one in the yoga community is ever going to openly bad mouth someone who looks different from the traditional idea of a practitioner. Ok, let me back up. I’m sure it happens. But being openly mean to people is not condoned in our yoga community. It’s a pretty big no-no, actually. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone reading this article right now is truly shocked by the idea that discrimination exists in a community which oozes the kind of saccharine sweetness that can only be honed by decades of marketing and product advertising. Unfortunately, the prettiest bandages can hide the ugliest wounds.
And beneath the surface of our saccharine sweet, mass media approved industry is a festering wound characterized by offensive language, discriminatory hiring practices and a bunch of other negativity that gets swept under the rug.
Admittedly, it’s not fun to acknowledge discrimination. In most cases, it feels very embarrassing, and many people would prefer to pretend as though they are not part of the problem. But anyone who turns a blind eye to this problem is also a key contributor to its existence. But how does this problem actually manifest and what does it look like? Let me paint a clearer picture for you.
Imagine you’re a curvy person who has finally decided to face your fear of practicing yoga in a group setting. Perhaps you’ve practiced yoga online with free videos, and you’re finally feeling confident enough in your understanding of asana to venture out of your living room and into a communally supportive environment under the watchful gaze of a knowledgeable instructor.
With a yoga mat under your arm and an emotionally swollen heart on your sleeve, you proudly stride into your local yoga studio.
When you approach the reception desk to check-in for class, the teacher (who looks, as expected, like a human Barbie doll) gives you a curt visual once-over. “Is this your first class?” Yoga Teacher Barbie chirps nonchalantly. While your knee jerk reaction may be defensive, you calm yourself down mentally. You remind yourself that she’s not trying to be offensive, and that she’s merely trying to take the proverbial temperature of a student she’s never met before. You smile and shake your head. “Nope, but I’m excited to take your class!” you say. Barbie smirks. “Well, this class is pretty intense,” she says.
You stare at her blankly. You’re wondering why she’s decided to tell you that the class is intense. Is it because she thinks you can’t handle the class? All of a sudden, you’re second guessing yourself and hiding sweaty palms. Why did you think you were strong enough to attend live classes? By the time you’ve rolled out your mat and gotten settled with props, the tissue thin confidence you brought into the studio has been shredded beyond repair by the self-doubt you’d managed to keep at bay prior to arrival.
During the class, you notice for the first time that your expressions of various yoga poses look a little different than other people in the class. Maybe your balance is a little less sharp, or you use props and modifications at times when other students seem to be able to go without. While that acknowledgement makes you a little self-conscious, it pales in comparison to the shame you feel at having your movements constantly corrected by Yoga Teacher Barbie.
Because, yes – Barbie has also noticed that your movements look a little different. And she’s decided to make your differences an opportunity for a teaching exercise by constantly correcting your alignment and offering more physical adjustments than you could have ever wanted. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if she’s offering more or less advice to anyone else in the room – in fact, it’s entirely possible that she offers this level of adjustment to every student. But your confidence has been shattered.
The emotionally swollen heart you proudly wore on your sleeve is now openly bleeding.
In the best case scenario, you somehow find the strength to believe in yourself again. In the worst case, you vow to never darken the doorstep of another yoga class for fear of ever feeling this way again.
The thing is, if you’re reading this right now, you’ve probably worn the moccasins of either Yoga Teacher Barbie or our Curvy Protagonist. Maybe both. And the weird thing is, I’ve heard this exact same story told by people who are not necessarily “curvy” or “different” in some other way.
In fact, it’s startlingly common for people who look just like Yoga Teacher Barbie to still feel discrimination at the hands of their instructors.
I could be wrong, but I think this is all the result of the fact that we live in a staunchly body negative society.
Body negativity is endorsed by the mass media – let’s face it, that’s how they get us to buy things. We make purchases because we find ourselves wanting or lacking in one way or another. Unfortunately, in addition to the mass media, body negativity has also fully permeated the yoga community. In fact, many teachers believe their discrimination isn’t discrimination at all – they see it as a kind dose of realism to students who don’t meet their personal standards of yoga perfection. Because that’s really all discrimination is – it’s the state of our judgment when we encounter people, places, and things which jibe with our personal definitions of perfection.
It’s sad to see this happen in a community which has the potential to include every single human being on the planet. Frankly, it’s not absurd to imagine a world where everyone practices a style or hybrid blend of yoga. However, that reality will never come to fruition if we don’t resolve the body negativity and discrimination problem. How do we do that? Well, fight fire with fire.
If body negativity is the disease, then body positivity must be the antidote.
The Antidote: Body Positivity
Body positivity is frequently confused concept. It’s pretty confused even within the body positivity community. You could get a different definition depending on the person you ask, the day of the week, etc. Some people think body positivity is solely tied up in body size acceptance, and others might even go so far as to equate it with fat acceptance and fat positivity. While fat positive movements have their rightful place of importance in the evolution of our society, I don’t believe they are synonymous with body positivity. Another popular way of describing body positivity is by equating it with constant self-pep talks. You know, a pattern of methods to remind yourself that “I’m Great! I’m Beautiful! I’m worthy of breathing oxygen in front of other humans without feeling suicidal!” While pep talks are rad and I fully endorse them, I don’t think they speak to the core of body positivity.
You see, body positivity assumes your constant perfection. It assumes that you’re always beautiful. That you’re always worthwhile. That you’re always capable. That you’re always strong.
In a truly body positive world, these statements are not up for debate – instead, they are seen as impenetrable fact. The only perspective up for debate is that of each individual – are you willing to accept your own perfection? Especially when the mass media tells you that those statements are definitely not true. Body positivity is the confidence to accept your constant perfection and beauty, no matter the proverbial weather. And, most importantly, to accept the constant perfection and beauty of those around you, even if they look and act different from yourself.
When we implement body positivity in our yoga studios and spaces, we create environments where students across an infinite spectrum of differences all feel as though they are equal to one another. This type of attitude is absolutely critical in order to see the yoga community grow beyond the one dimensional image offered by the media. Body positivity doesn’t mean teachers aren’t free to offer alignment tips and adjustments to their students without fear of offending someone. But it does mean that every word, every gesture, and every moment is an opportunity to be encouraging. To make someone feel welcome. To actively avoid discouragement.
Eventually, this kind of environment will lead to the end of classes where certain students are viewed as superior to their fellow students. Good riddance, as far as I’m concerned. This is a glass ceiling that desperately needs to be shattered.
We must all take responsibility for the role we play in a yoga culture which is thoroughly embedded in discrimination and negativity.
We need more than a few people who are proud of their bodies. We need a legion of yoga teachers, administrators and advanced practitioners who truly walk the walk of the eight-limbed path, and who will stop at nothing to spread the practice to every soul across the planet.