Withdrawal of the Senses: Practicing Yoga Blindfolded
In yoga philosophy, Pratyahara – translated as removal of the senses, is designed to take us from the outside to the inside, a journey for the yogi to find the Self. How about removing your ability to see? It is one thing to close your eyes during a practice, yet to actually remove the choice of opening them is a completely different matter.
Practicing yoga with your eyes blindfolded has a huge impact on the rest of your senses. You’ll feel your balance being challenged as you remove visual references and you’ll also feel the rest of your senses become deepened and refined. Another benefit is a renewed sense of gratitude. We often take simple things—like our ability to appreciate beautiful images, light, movement and action through our eyesight—for granted.
Give it a go and see for yourself what benefits arise from the removal of one of your senses. With a scarf or sleep mask, cover your eyes. Take a moment to simply get accustomed to the idea of not having the choice to open your eyes during your practice. Allow for any feelings of anxiety or fear as you adapt to this big change. Calm any sense of panic by drawing your attention to your breath and feeling the solid earth beneath your feet. Feel the difference in the air, the space filling the room. Use the rest of your senses: hearing, taste, touch and smell, and remind yourself that you can always feel for the edges of your mat if you need to regain your bearings.
Practicing blindfolded is a time to take your asana practice a little slower and use a simpler sequence, in order to go deeper within. The present moment will be magnified and you will tune deeper into your breath, feeling and hearing the sensations of your body moving. You will notice that the need for focus and presence is much greater than usual. If your mind shifts or wanders at all from the present, you’ll feel lost. You may also recognize yourself seeking for external approval by checking what others are doing or looking for visual references. Use this as an opportunity to find approval from within yourself. After all, the purpose of the practice of yoga is to connect to your deeper self; to trust yourself and feel a sense of renewed confidence from within; to realize that the answers lie within.
Enjoy the experiment and use this as an exercise to adapt to change, to become more grateful for the smaller or invisible aspects of your life. Notice the qualities and attributes that arise during the practice and what effects you feel at the end. Take this as an opportunity to feel grateful for the simple things in life, the ability you have to see, to appreciate beauty.
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