THE THIRD CHAKRA
( Part 4 of a 9 part Free Online Chakra Course for Beginners)
Welcome to you - the beautiful soul reading this. Are you aware of your own beauty? Did you know that you are a miracle - a unique expression of life that has never been expressed in this particular way and never will be again? Is it easy or difficult to accept that and deeply feel that about yourself? Either way, it is the absolute truth. You are beautiful, unique and powerful, you are an individuated expression of divinity. When you really come to this realization and feel it deeply in you heart, soul and bones, your life will become something very different.
Today as we explore the third chakra, you might contemplate how what has been imparted here can be expressed through this particular energy center called Manipura Chakra. This series is designed as a free online course for anyone wanting to do a deep dive into the chakras, but who is newly exploring these energy centers. I believe this series also has something to offer the seasoned practitioner as well.
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I do stick to the traditional ayurvedic framework and associated Sanskrit terms, but I also make the information relatable to this culture and these modern times we live in. If there is a term you are not familiar with, it will be defined for you. If the word has already been defined (in a previous blog post from this series), it will be italicised like this and a link to the post in which it was defined, will be included below.
As always, I suggest reading the introductory post and the posts on the first and second chakra, as each post builds on the one preceding it. Nevertheless, if you simply want to learn about the third chakra at this time, I am sure you will find what you are looking for. That being said, let’s jump right in.
As we have discussed in the previous posts, each chakra has particular: yantra ( mandala, seed syllable (activating sound or mantra), kshetra (location - or point of access), kosha(sheath or body), guna (particular qualities), and vayu (“Our life force, prana, divides itself into five vayus, each governing different functions and aspects of being.”).
We will review each of these and also discover how to tell if our manipura chakra (or third chakra) is balanced or not, and whether it is overactive or underactive. Information on how to balance this chakra will also be given. Such has been the format of the past two posts as well.
The Basics of Manipura
Mani means pearl or jewel. Pūra means place or city; so the name translates as place of the jewel or pearl, or also the “city of jewels”. It is associated with the element of fire. It’s kosha (sheath or body) is the energy body. Just as the kosha of the first chakra is the physical body and the kosha of the second chakra is the emotional body.
The kshetra: “ The position of the Manipūra Chakra is in the middle of the abdomen behind the navel; this is why it is also known as the Navel Centre. More precisely speaking, its area of influence radiates out about 7 cm above and below the navel. Its counterpart in the body is the Solar Plexus. “ ((Source)
The yantra: (symbol or mandala) for the third chakra is a yellow, ten-petalled lotus, surrounding a circle. Inside the circle is an inverted triangle (in this case symbolizing unfolding and awakening). It also represents a magnet of energy . It is we who magnetize this energy from the cosmos and radiate it to the world. It also represents the energy of the first three chakras gathering and being spread toward the higher chakras. The triangle encases the seed syllable (or bidja in Sanskrit) RAM. Ram is the sound that activates the third chakra. It is pronounced as “rum”.
The ten petals represent the ten pranas which consist of the five main types of prana or vayus (discussed in the second chakra post) and the five upa pranas of: burping, blinking,yawning, sneezing and the opening and closing of the heart valves. The type of prana directly associated with manipura chakra is samana prana .
Samana prana: “Active at the navel center—midway between the realms of prana vayu in the chest and apana vayu in the pelvis—samana vayu is a concentrating, absorbing, and consolidating force. Its main function is assimilation of prana in all its forms—like a power station, samana collects energy absorbed through breath, food, sensory perception, and mental experiences and processes it to empower all aspects of life.” (Source)
It oversees the digestion food, thoughts, emotions, experiences and breath. It oversees our “agni” ( or digestive fire). Pretty amazing isn’t it? It makes you realize just how important this chakra is!
The Kosha: As mentioned in the two previous posts, our body has five layers or sheaths (called “pancha kosha” in yogic philosophy.) While the first two chakras are associated with the physical body or shealth, the third chakra is associated with the “energy body” - called Pranamaya Kosha in Sanskrit. It is the second layer or sheath.
”Pranamaya kosha is the energy sheath and is said to be composed of prana. As such, pranamaya kosha is the vital shell of the body that contains life. The existence of pranamaya kosha is what differentiates the living from the dead. Pranamaya kosha is said to exist in the physical body, pervading the whole organism. Prana flows through nadis, or energy channels, in the body. Yogis believe there are 72,000 nadis that make up pranamaya kosha.”
The Guna: Manipura is predominantly influenced by rajas, the qualities of activity, vitality, vigour and will. The first two chakras are associated with the tamas guna, having the qualities of lethargy dullness and ignorance.
Endocrine gland: adrenals. The adrenals excrete: adrenaline (which triggers the fight or flight response) , noradrenaline (a neurotransmitter of the brain which plays a role in arousal, stress reaction, cognitive function) cortisol (a hormone that regulates stress response, metabolism, and immune response), aldosterone (retention of sodium, release of potassium), androgen and estrogen ( sex hormones). As you can see the adrenal glands play a complex role. Adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol play an especially important role in relation to the mind-body connection.
Since manipura is responsible for the digestion of emotions, thought and experiences, we can see how the relationship between this chakra and its associated endocrine gland (the adrenals) is a very important one. As we proceed to explore the associations of the chakras to the various endocrine glands, it will become ever apparent how the chakra system is directly related to our mind-body connection and how our mental and physical states are intertwined and interdependent.
Learning to control the vayus or pranas can have a direct effect on our mind states and the body chemistry which gives rise to various states of mind, either positive or negative. With this kind of clarity and understanding (of how all the pieces fit together and how they interact) we are well on our way to self-mastery. We can then take it further by learning to ascertain which chakra is associated with an imbalance we may be experiencing. Using the tools, skills and knowledge we have , we can then use: our breath, our diet, yoga poses, essential oils, colors, sounds, visualizations and connection to nature, to bring harmony and balance to our life. In that way we make the best possible use of our body and mind as the vehicles that carry us as we travel the path of awakening.
Just as the first chakra is associated with taste, and the second with smell, the third chakra is associated with sight. It also has an association with the blood, the nerves and the pancreas. The associated gland is the adrenal gland. Manipura is associated with the principle of movement, and hence is associated with walking and the feet. Interesting to note that grief is associated with the third chakra and that walking meditation is a good remedy for grief. In relation to digestion, simply taking 100 steps after finishing a meal is great for digestion.
Manipura is the storehouse of our emotions, especially sorrow and grief. It is also associated with: clarity, self-confidence, well-being and self-esteem. Whereas the first chakra is the seat of our unconscious and the second chakra is the seat of our subconscious, the third chakra is the seat of our conscious mind.
So then it makes sense that our clarity comes from here. If our life is undigested, it causes disharmony in our thoughts, feelings and emotions which in turn affect our actions, reactions and choices. And we can see how sometimes what is lurking or buried in the unconscious our subconscious ( the first two chakras), can directly affect our conscious mind. In this way it is easy to see how the chakras are interdependent and affect one another.
The Radiance of the Solar Plexus
“After we have passed through the levels of unconscious and subconscious – the Mūlādhāra Chakra and the Svādishthāna Chakra – our consciousness reaches the third level, the Manipūra Chakra. With the realisation of the Manipūra Chakra the aspirant has reached an important stage on the spiritual path. For once the consciousness has unfolded in the Manipūra Chakra there is a greater likelihood that – under the guidance of a Realised Master – one can attain the goal of Supreme Consciousness in this lifetime. At the Manipūra Chakra more than of half the journey towards realisation has already been completed.” (Source)
“The Manipūra Chakra is the “City of Jewels” in which we find the pearls of clarity, wisdom, self-confidence and wellbeing. Their lustre radiates down to the lower Chakras as well as up to the Heart Centre (Anāhata Chakra). The feelings of love and happiness that we feel in our heart actually originate in the Manipūra Chakra and rise from there to the Anāhata Chakra. The positive radiance emanating from the Manipūra Chakra also purifies the Svādhishthāna and Mūlādhāra Chakras and their qualities.” (Source)
Balanced or Imbalanced
“An imbalance or blockage in the Manipūra Chakra paralyses and destroys our energy and triggers diverse physical and psychic problems. If we are unable to think clearly, to express our thoughts and feelings, or if our mind is foggy there is often a disturbance in the Manipūra Chakra. Numerous complaints such as diabetes, skin diseases, cardiovascular diseases, gout, arthritis, rheumatic diseases, many types of migraines, allergies and many more can trace their origin back to a lack of energy within the Manipūra Chakra and a badly functioning digestive system” (Source)
“Working with the breath is highly beneficial to this chakra. “Pranamaya kosha” is what unites the body and mind. Prana enters the body via nourishment and breath. As such, an important way of working with pranamaya kosha is to perform pranayama, or breathing exercises. These are believed to have a positive effect on the energy system of the body.” (Source) By working with the breath you are stimulating the physical and energy bodies and specifically the third chakra, as this is the chakra that is connected to all forms of prana (especially the breath).
Balance looks like……
Control over thoughts and emotions.
Willpower and self-discipline.
Confidence and self-esteem.
Power to transform thoughts into ideas. (Source)
energized,focused, empowered and in alignment with life
Imbalance looks like…..
Liver and kidney complications
Get easily offended
Feeling of worthlessness
Dissatisfaction and restlessness
seeking approval, problems with boundaries, overindulgent, manipulative , lazy, big ego, addictive tendencies
Overactive looks like: anger over little things, being overly controlling , self - centered behavior, lust for power,hyperactive, possessive, lust for power, intolerance, overly judgemental, aggressive, overly extroverted.
Underactive looks like:indecision, hesitancy in speaking one’s truth, fear of responsibility, weakened thought process, lack of self-esteem, willpower and self-discipline, overly inward, passive.
What helps: take space, speak with love and kindness(manipura chakra is the seat of the “word”), new experiences, opening up to others, sunlight, healthy diet, healthy eating habits, breathwork, associated yoga poses (boat pose and sun salutations) and mudras, essential oils (especially fennel), stones (yellow citrine), saying ram repeatedly (see links below).
What should I eat? : “Eat whole grains such as rice, oats, spelt, and rye which are all great for digestion. Try including more legumes in your diet such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans. Add spices such as turmeric, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon to your food as these spices are heating to the body. Also include yellow fruit and vegetables such as lemons, bananas, corn, pineapple, and yellow capsicums into your eating plan.” This applies both to overactive and underactive. (Source)
Though we did not cover foods to eat for over and underactive first and second chakras, the same source as was just mentioned has a list of them. I have also listed the source below, under “A Toolbox for All 7 Chakras”
The million dollar question: “What must I understand, love or let go of that will free up my energy?” Often, those with blocked solar plexus chakras tend to invest huge amounts of energy towards fighting, avoiding or suppressing something.” (Source)
Using the Breath to Engage Manipura Chakra
“Many yogis (yoga practitioners) seek to balance this vayu (samana prana/vayu) through pranayama practice. During pranayama, matching the length of both inhales and exhales causes prana to meet apana.” Here they mean “apana vayu” and “prana vayu”. In other words , we can engage our breath as a means of assisting prana of the upper body and lower body to engage with each other. No surprise then that samana vayu translates as “balancing air” - bringing the upper air and lower air to meet.
There is an excerpt from my last post that relates to this same concept, but describes it a bit differently. “ When the downward moving prana (located in the pelvis that governs elimination and outward movement) - called apana prana or “ apana vayu”), is joined with upward moving prana (located in the head and chest which governs intake, inspiration, propulsion, forward momentum) - called “prana vayu”; it hooks into the first and second chakras and acts like a key that opens a door and unties The Knot of Brahma , hence freeing the kundalini and allowing it to rise.” This leads to higher states of consciousness, lifting the veils of illusion and ignorance which keep us bound in misperception and suffering.
Pranayama: prana means vital life force and is also associated with breath and air. Yama means “ to gain control”. The practice of pranayama (or working with the breath), means to learn how to work with and gain control over your breath, the air you breathe, (pranas/vayus) and your vital life forces. Engaging in these practices (there are many) allows you to practice self mastery by using your breath to control how energy flows through your body. These techniques: oxygenate your blood, vitalize your cells, enrich your organs, promote beneficial mind states, purify the mind and body and promote movement in the subtle body channels (or nadis). Your breath affects everything from digestion, to emotions, to body chemistry and so forth. It is the activating force of the network in your body where everything interconnects.
There are many types of pranayama. Nadi Sadhona (cleaning channel breathing) also known as “alternate nostril breathing” is a great practice for engaging the third chakra. You can find many videos on YouTube that will demonstrate how it is done. Here is a written explanation. I like this site, because it offers nadhi sadhona for different levels and also shows you other types of pranayama. Here is one example.
Sit relaxed and concentrate on the normal breath for a few minutes. > Lift the right hand, place the index finger and middle finger at the eyebrow centre (Pranayama Mudra) and close the right nostril with the thumb. > Breathe through the left nostril 20 times - the breath is slightly deeper than normal and directed into the abdomen. > Open the right nostril again and close the left nostril with the ring finger. > Breathe through the right nostril 20 times - the breath is slightly deeper than normal and into the abdomen. > Return the hand to the knee and observe the normal flow of the breath.
Nadi Shodhana purifies the blood and respiratory system. The deeper breathing enriches the blood with oxygen. This Pranayama strengthens the respiratory system and balances the nervous system. It helps to relieve nervousness and headaches.
To explore different types of pranayama (with instruction) you can go here.
Burn it in the Fire!
Just as the first chakra (muladhara - root support) is associated with the earth element and the second chakra (svadhishthana - abode of the self) is associated with the element of water (especially procreative fluids); manipura (or third chakra) is associated with the element of fire. Here is a helpful meditation for purifying obstacles.
“Visualise sitting at a campfire. You are sitting at this campfire and observing yourself as an independent witness. Now throw all those negative qualities, thoughts, complexes and feelings that inhibit, obstruct or hurt you into the fire in the form of small pieces of wood. As an “observer” see yourself carrying out this activity. Also watch how the wood slowly burns to ash. This creates within you a feeling of satisfaction, relief and freedom.”
The Overall Picture
By now you can begin to see how the chakras build on each other, interact with each other and affect one another. You can see how as we move up from the root to the third chakra we are moving from unconscious, to subconscious, to conscious; from primal instinct, to emotion, to awareness. We are moving through layers of awareness.
So our chakras are levels of consciousness. These levels of consciousness each have their gifts and challenges, associated element, organs, endocrine glands, natures and qualities, predispositions and so forth. As you can see it is rather complex. I have tired to steer you toward the fundamentals, so that you have a basic understanding of the terminology and concepts that lend themselves to understanding this multifaceted, multilayered system.
Chakras, like humans, are complex. Even within this system, you will find that various sources will say various things. So I am searching for and bringing to you the parts that are the most clear that everyone seems to agree upon. Considering myself a beginner, I try not to touch upon concepts that I myself do not understand.
Hopefully by now it is clear that each chakra is a convergence point for subtle body channels (called nadis) and nerve plexuses. Each of these convergence points or chakras has an associated endocrine gland. This is important, because our physical and mental states and any imbalances in our chakras all play a role in the production, overproduction or underproduction of hormones (produced in our endocrine glands).
You may have heard the saying “better living through chemistry”. Well, learning to balance your chakras is better living through better chemistry - balanced chemistry! Hopefully it is becoming clear that trauma, experience, thoughts, emotions, feelings, diet and so forth all affect your chakras and the way in which energy flows (or doesn’t) through the body. The way that vital life force flows through you body affects literally every part of your reality. If there is excess or deficiency (imbalance) it will affect you physically and mentally.
Learning to balance the chakras is a means of self mastery that allows you to have the expression of self most true to your own unique essence, so that you can fulfill your destiny. Destiny does not mean goal or purpose here - it simply means the life that is indicated in your blueprint. Our job is to transform as many distortions as possible, to find a state of balance, to clear away what is blocking our clarity and vision, to free ourselves from illusions and limiting beliefs.
The journey through the chakras is a journey of self discovery with very real tools that we can use along the way. For instance, with the power of our breath, we can push to the surface the dross (dregs or debris) hidden in our nadis so that we can free ourselves. This dross could be stuck trauma, negative imprints from past experience, subconscious programs, unconscious fears or illusory limitations.
So the information is being given, the tools are being shared and now it’s up to you to decide how to implement it. My suggestion is to be dedicated and diligent. Diligence is the quality associated with the third chakra and sloth it’s counterpart. So take what inspires you from these posts and put it to good use. You will only live once in the particular skin you are in, so you may as well make good use of this life. You know why? Because life is a gift and a miracle! If it does not feel that way, the answer is probably in your chakras.
Tools & Resources for Balancing Manipura Chakra
Digestion: Because manipura chakra is so closely relate.d to digestion, I am including a post I wrote about digestion. Part of having a balanced third chakra is healthy digestion. You can find the post here.
Tool Kit: This is an excellent tool kit all in one article. The article tells shows you how to recognize if your third chakra is underactive of overactive, and how to balance it using: yoga poses, herbs, essential oils, visualization, affirmations and more. You can find it here.
A Toolbox for All 7 Chakras: This website will help you to discern if your chakras are underactive or overactive. They give you food ideas, questions to ask yourself, yoga poses, meditations and other tools, to help you come back into balance. I love this all-in-one place resource. You can find it here.
More tools: in the two previous posts, I endorsed a couple of websites that allows you to learn more about the chakras. They also offer plenty of tools for discovering whether or not your chakra is overactive or underactive and how to balance it. Those websites are chakras.net and fitsri.com. These links lead directly to information pertaining to the third chakra, but once there you can browse other chakras and topics as well; including the topics, terms and concepts we have discussed here.
Yogapedia is also a great resource for exploring Sanskrit words, terms and concepts as they apply to chakras, yoga and yogic practices. They have all sorts of information on yoga, breathing, chakras and meditation. It is a very helpful tool. You can find it here.
My YouTube Channel: I have a series of videos on the chakras on my channel. My mentor and I discuss the second chakra here. I appreciate my mentor’s knowledge about chakras because he includes information and concepts that you won’t find anywhere else. For instance he talks about why the liver is such an important organ to consider when addressing the third chakra. He also addresses the belief of separation and abandonment as well as the concept of surrender (as it relates to the third chakra). He speaks about the grace and the attachment of each chakra. He introduces the connection between the Divine Mother and the third chakra, emotions and joy. He encourages and inspires imagination.
Below you will see which Sanskrit words, terms and concepts were introduced in which post. Each of the posts in this series builds upon the last, so it can be very beneficial and helpful to read the previous posts. This will keep you in sync with the flow of the series, which includes, the introduction of new vocabulary, terms and concepts in each post.
Introductory post: chakra, nadi, ida, pingala, sushumna, kundalini, prana, torus field You can find it here.
First chakra post: yantra,bidja, kshetra, kosha, gunas, tamas, apana prana, annamaya kosha, Knot of Brahma You can read it here.
Second Chakra post: vritti, bandhas, apana vayu, samskaras, sattvic You can find it here.
The 5 koshas (or bodies) are: The physical body, the energy body, the mental body, the wisdom body and the bliss body.
The 5 vayus: The words prana and vayu are synonymous. They are the five types of prana. We address each type as they correspond to the current chakra we are learning about in each post. Today we discussed samana prana or samana vayu. It is associated with the third chakra, where as apana prana is the vayu or prana associated with the root and sacral chakras. Samana prana or samana vayu translates as “balancing air”.
Pranayama: (breath work) prana - life force and air; yama - to gain control
Nadi Shodhana: alternate nostril breathing. It also means “channel cleaning breathing”. It is used to purify the nervous system and is capable of calming the physical, mental and emotional bodies.
Yogapedia is also a great resource for exploring Sanskrit words, terms and concepts as they apply to chakras, yoga and yogic practices. You can find it here.
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