For about the first 8 1/2 years of my yoga practice, I had zero awareness of the chakras or any inclination to learn about them. Then our features editor Jennifer wrote a 4-part series on the chakras–and we actually talked about the different ways your chakra deficiencies (or surplus) are manifested in your body and mind. Some of the physical and emotional signs we each observed in ourselves turned out to be very accurate. For example, I’ve always been unbelievably flexible through hip and groin, and my root and sacral plexus chakra are both grounded: I feel a good sense of security, a connection to my roots, and feel comfortable in my sensuality and sense of joy. Another chakra I feel good about is my heart chakra and its ability to give and receive love. I got that part down pat.
The one I feel requires most attention for me personally is the solar plexus chakra, located around your navel. Represented by the color yellow and governing “Power,” this is the seat of your warrior energy, and the will to transform. Deficiency in this chakra can manifest as eating disorders, a sense of being a victim, low self-esteem, and powerlessness. Excess, on the other hand, can show as anger, focus on external status, and perfectionism. And as in other chakras, an imbalance can show up as *both* deficient and excessive symptoms. It’s not hard to imagine, because when you’re lacking something, you swing to the other extreme and try to over-compensate.
I personally have felt symptoms of both deficiency and excess of the solar plexus, swinging from a sense of vulnerability and over-assertiveness. Since the New Year my goal has to been to find a balance between the two, to find a solid center of gravity (literally and figuratively). Perhaps this was why, when I was called to find a dedication at my first yoga class in 2015, my mind came up with “Abundance” as my mantra.
Call your attention to strengthen and balance your solar plexus, and bring forth abundance, power, and resolution. As Jennifer wrote: “Restoring a lasting internal flame requires giving up what we feel and know is safe, breaking boundaries and taking risks as individuals.” And so if you want to stretch your boundaries and embrace transformation in 2015, try this yoga for solar plexus chakra sequence.
In virasana, hold you head aloft, stacked over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, spine long and extended. Cactus your arms. Rotate to the left side, twisting from the navel, and just twist to the left side only (about 30 degrees) with sharp exhale through the mouth for 10 breaths.
Unwind, rotate to the right side and twist to the right with sharp exhale for 10 breaths. Come through to the center, and twist all the way side to side for 20 breaths. Come back to center, lower hands on your knees and feel the fire in your core.
Come into hands and knees, and flow through cat-cow. Drop your head, round the back and wrap your shoulder blades around and away from the floor with an exhale (cat). Reverse to arch your back and look toward the ceiling with an inhale (cow). Repeat 5 rounds. Come into neutral spine and press your toes under and float your knees off the floor, focusing on lifting navel away from the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.
Flow through your Sun salutation and come into Downward dog, focusing on picking up your navel.
Three Legged Dog
Send your right leg straight toward the ceiling, both hips still squared down toward the floor, your right toes pointing toward the floor.
Knee to Nose
From three-legged dog, shift weight forward, stack your shoulders over your palms, as your draw your right knee toward your chest and curl your head in. Feel the drawing in of your core.
From knee-to-nose, extend leg back into three-legged dog. Then carefully flip the dog to step your right foot out, reaching forward with your right hand, arching your back, navel to the ceiling. Feel the opening up of your solar plexus to the ceiling. Unwind to three-legged dog again. Flow through your vinyasa and repeat on the other side.
Take a seat, activate your core and draw in your shins parallel to the floor. Bring your palms together, then firmly slash your palms to the left of your hips as you rotate left and exhale sharply (like you’re wielding a sword). Do on the other side; repeat going side to side for 10 reps.
Lie on the front side of your body. Reach back with your hands for your ankles or tops of feet; draw your knees together as much as possible, raise your upper middle and lower back up as your raise your legs up behind you. You are now balancing on your solar plexus on the floor. Breathe into your core to maintain that balance and raise your upper and lower body higher up.
Kneel into viransana as before. Bring your hands together in front of your solar plexus, forefingers pointing toward the ceiling and the rest of the fingers intertwined, for Uttarabodhi mudra. This mudra helps bring fearlessness, insight, good decision-making, and self-confidence; it shields you from negative energy, gives you positive energy, and calms anxiety and nerves–it’s an empowering mudra that can be practiced every day to help restore balance in your solar plexus.
Related: Yoga for Your Third Eye
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling