by Monique Minahan
I invite my body into some gentle asana next to a dwindling fire. Only after movement do I find the stillness necessary to enter the city of jewels, manipura chakra; mani meaning jewel and pura meaning city. Now focused, I contemplate the literal flames before me then look to my internal place of fire, manipura chakra.
While its frontal location is at the navel, the chakra itself is said to reside at the level of the spine. I guide my attention horizontally there, to the inner wall of the spinal column and whisper the beeja mantra ram until it settles in my bones like the hum of my breath.
I let my inner vision focus around the space of my solar plexus, literally a complex of nerves in the abdomen that delivers the intuitive “gut feeling” or sinking sensation in the pit of our stomach. The fact that there are no bones in front of the solar plexus seems fitting as this chakra embodies willpower and action; an ability to hold one’s self up. It is the center of heat and strength physically and energetically. The Japanese refer to this area of the body as the hara, or “sea of energy.”
Discerning what’s at the heart of this chakra for me requires patience. Below this chakra is the energy that creates me as an individual. Swadhisthana chakra: my ego, self-esteem, my individuality. Above manipura lies anahata chakra, the energy to channel my unique offering to the world. But here is where those two energies meet. Here is where I find empowerment, authenticity and responsibility. Here is where I transition my individuality to universality. Here is where I struggle with holding on and letting go.
I choose the unifying pranayama of breath retention for this chakra; one that balances both prana-vayu (upward and inward energy) and apana-vayu (downward and outward energy).
I visualize the two forces traveling to the navel simultaneously on the inhale. Only when I feel that they have arrived at the same time do I then perform a gentle breath retention before the exhale. I repeat this for a few minutes before letting my breath return to normal.
When I open my eyes, the fire has dwindled to hot embers. I acknowledge the times in my life when I’ve barely had an ember of light to guide me through the darkness. And I acknowledge the times when a full flame has burned through limitations and freed me to be more authentic, empowered and alive.
I bow my head to that.
Part 4 of a 7 part series. You can find part 3 here: Swadhisthana, The Sacrum.
Mo is a writer and yoga teacher who believes in peace over happiness and love over fear. She likes to set her sights high and then take small steps to get there. You’ll find her walking the dirt path behind her house with her little fluffy dog, practicing walking her talk by keeping her head high and her heart open. Contact: moniqueminahan.com