The chakras are wheels of energy in our subtle body. When the energy at one or a few of these chakras are weak or too strong, or if the ‘wheel isn’t turning’ in a smooth manner (metaphorically), it could be said that these chakras are ‘imbalanced’ or the ‘kundalini isn’t rising’.
Don’t be too concerned about this, just know that things can be better if you work on these areas of the body.
The manipura chakra (solar plexus) is situated around the navel area of our body, while the anahata chakra (heart) is at the heart centre. To learn more about the manipura and anahata chakras, go to the link below:
To learn more about chakras in general, read the blog post below:
Now, let’s take a look at which yoga asana may help you with the manipura and anahata chakras respectively.
Asana for the manipura.
Any yoga pose that works on your core will help invigorate your manipura chakra. When your manipura has a smooth flow of energy, you feel confident and even strong. On the other hand, if the energy in your manipura is suffering, you may find yourself feeling small or insecure. Alternatively, you may find yourself on the other end of the spectrum, so you may be feeling over confident or over estimate yourself, even seeking more and more personal power, regardless of the cost or ‘collateral damage’.
Here are two standard, plus one bonus, yoga asana to help you work on your manipura chakra.
Navasana (Boat Pose).
Navasana, or Boat Pose, is a sort of seated balance yoga asana, requiring the practitioner to balance on the sit bones and tailbone. It helps to build both mental and physical focus, and hopefully brings rise to body awareness.
Navasana works your core and therefore helps to stoke the fire in your manipura chakra. It also helps with your posture, including in activities such as running and swimming.
In addition, this yoga pose strengthens your hip flexors, groin muscles and the lower back muscles (the QL). It also requires an open heart space, which lends a little of the anahata to the yoga posture.
There are many variations to navasana, so even beginners can give this asana a try. For example, you can try holding your thighs (behind the knees) to help you when you first attempt this yoga pose.
The story behind navasana may come from South Asia’s equivalent of Noah’s Ark, when Manu carried the Vedas along with plants and animals, together with seven sages, in a boat through the waters of Pralaya, finding refuge on Mount Meru.
Bakasana (Crane / Crow Pose).
This is probably the first introduction a yoga practitioner has to arm balances. Considered a ‘basic’ asana, it is a compact arm balance that works on the core and arms, while developing focus for the mind.
This pose requires you to activate your core muscles, engage the back of your shoulders, and activate hip flexor and groin muscles,
This yoga posture draws your awareness to the connection between your arms, knees, and core muscles. Even more, you gain confidence as this asana really stokes the manipura fire!
While crane pose (bakasana) and crow pose are two different asana, many people practise these as variations of the other, crow is practised with your arms bent and your knees resting on your upper arms. Meanwhile, crane has your arms straight and your knees are tucked in atop the upper arms, closer to the armpits.
If you want to learn more, check out the virtual yoga workshop below:
While the crane and the crow are largely different (one white, the other black; one of the land, and the other of the water, etc), the crow is a seen as a bird of wisdom in yoga mythology. Kakabhushundi is an immortal crow, who overhears the wisdom discussed between Shiva (consciousness) and Shakti (nature / matter). He conveys this to the world.
To learn myths about the crane in yoga, check out the virtual yoga workshop above!
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Bonus: Phalakasana (Plank Pose).
Plank pose (or the ‘modern’ Sanskrit name of phalakasana) is a static full-body strengthener! Practising this pose will get you stronger core, wrists, arms, shoulders, back, core, glutes and legs (don’t forget the thigh activation!).
This is an important yoga pose / exercise to practise, as it is a precursor to chaturanga dandasana (four-limbed staff pose), and all the arm balances there are in yoga mat practice.
Asana for the anahata.
Yoga poses that opens up the heart space, or strengthens the chest area, will help you connect to your anahata chakra. When your anahata has a smooth flow of energy, you feel connected, compassionate and have a sense of belonging and direction in the world.
On the other hand, if the energy in your anahata suffers, you may find yourself feeling isolated, unable to connect to other people or to your environment.
You may want to read the following blog posts on yoga heart-openers:
For a virtual workshop on demand, all about backbending and heart-opening, click the link below!
While yoga heart-openers / backbends are the best to tap into the heart chakra, the better poses for the anahata are those with the arms over the head, such as urdhva dhanurasana (upward bow pose). Here are two yoga asana with arms overhead to help you work on your anahata chakra.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana 1 (One-legged King Pigeon Pose 1).
This yoga asana a deep hip opener and backbend (or heart-opener). Approach this yoga pose consciously to avoid any potential injury and to reap its benefits.
This yoga posture opens up both hips (svadisthana) and heart (anahata) chakras. The heart aspect is especially highlighted with arms overhead (with or without a yoga strap). Opening up both regions improves circulation to both your lower and upper extremities.
In addition, practising this yoga pose gives you better range of motion, The asana is an intense stretch that requires skilful alignment.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana 2 (One-legged King Pigeon Pose 2).
This yoga posture requires the practitioner to stretch the entire front body, opening up the hip flexors in order to lengthen the back and find balance.
The asana requires a combination of stability and mobility, and you need to slow down, practise mindfulness and mind-body connection to avoid injury and to immerse into the yoga pose.
Try to deliberately pause to breathe, so you can revert if necessary if you find unsteadiness or resistance,
Stoking the fire with the breath.
Working on these two chakras should help you to feel the fire of confidence and the ability to shine, all the while connecting to the air and the breath around you.
Both the capacity to have confidence and to shine, while immersing in the breath are important, whether we are working on the chakras, or on these yoga asana, or just in life in general.
Try these yoga poses when working on your chakras, and let me know how it helps by contacting me here!
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