Last week in our chakra series we learned about the sacral chakra, our chakra of sensuality and emotions. If you missed that post, check it out here! This week we’ll be learning about our third chakra, the solar plexus chakra or manipura in Sanskrit. We’ll continue to reference a book by Anodea Judith called Eastern Body, Western Mind, available here.
The chakra system consists of seven wheels of energy aligned up the length of our spine, each corresponding to different attributes of both our physical and emotional being. Blockages and imbalances of prana (life energy) in the chakras can cause physical and emotional suffering. We can look at the attributes of each chakra for clues about where we might have an imbalance, and what we can do to promote healing in that area.
Our first (root) chakra provides us with a sense of belonging in the world. At the time when this chakra is developing (second trimester – 12 months), we know only survival and whether our needs are met. During second (sacral) chakra development (6 months – 2 years) we discover life’s pleasures and begin to notice our own desires and emotions.
With the solar plexus chakra, our third chakra, we further the realization of individuality as we learn that we are separate from our caretakers, that we are our own being. The solar plexus is where we learn about ourselves, develop our attitudes and perceptions of Self, and discover our personal power. Judith says,
“…we develop our individuality, discover our strengths and weaknesses, and begin to build the power that will steer our lives.”
Attributes of the Solar Plexus Chakra
The solar plexus is located in the soft area between the belly button and the chest. It’s associated with the color yellow and the fire element. It is our chakra of self-confidence, motivation, and identity. The solar plexus is where we acknowledge and appreciate our individuality. It governs the way we see ourselves and our abilities. A balanced solar plexus will exude confidence, self-love, and a belief in our ability to make ourselves happy.
At the time when this chakra is developing, we are learning that we are separate from our caretakers, that we are an individual. This is when our personality starts to emerge, and we learn how to express our emotions and individual preferences. As with the emotions of the sacral chakra, the development of this chakra depends on how these expressions are nurtured.
When we are taught that our interests are in some way incorrect, we begin to question our ability to choose for ourselves. We may start to model others in their behavior because we’re unsure of how we should act, what we should like, what we should be doing. This diminishes our ability to believe in ourselves, and our power to act becomes weak. We may be indecisive, avoid risk, or feel as though we’re on the outside looking in at others’ happiness.
The solar plexus chakra shapes the way we feel about ourselves and our capabilities. It is the seat of Self, and where we acknowledge and express our individuality. This foundation fuels our personal power, or our belief in making ourselves happy and making right decisions for ourselves. Personal power is like a muscle. When it’s underworked, like when we hold back from trying new things because we don’t think we can, the muscle weakens. On the other hand, when we exercise our personal power, the muscle is strengthened when we see ourselves succeed.
Things that Affect Solar Plexus Chakra Development
Judith says that the solar plexus chakra develops somewhere between 18 months and four years and is all about how our emerging self-confidence was nurtured. Children of this age have little sense of danger, and therefore often think they can do things they definitely shouldn’t. Or they want to try to do something well above their age level.
It’s how these situations were handled that shapes the development of the solar plexus chakra. Were we encouraged to try again, to make realistic goals for ourselves? We were told that we were capable, and that we can do anything we put our minds to?
My son is currently in this chakra developmental stage. Although I love watching his personality and individuality emerge, it’s a very difficult stage to navigate as a parent. At this age, children discover that they are separate individuals, and that they have the power to say yes and no to change their current situation to their liking. And they do it…..All. The. Time.
This is an exciting and liberating realization, and that’s why children at this stage exert their will even when it’s completely irrational. Our challenge as parents then, is to teach them about impulse control and consequences, all while maintaining some level of patience. It’s safe to say that most parents fall short of perfection in this area, so solar plexus imbalance is common.
Judith lists a few more situations that could contribute to blockages in the solar plexus chakra:
- Age-inappropriate responsibilities
How to Know if Your Solar Plexus Chakra is Blocked
The solar plexus chakra is the seat of our self-confidence. The characteristics of an imbalance will all typically be symptoms of self-esteem, and Judith says we express this in one of two ways. The obvious way is that of someone with low self-worth, not believing in their capabilities, questioning their judgment and character.
The more subtle example is in someone who overcompensates for their lack of self-esteem with arrogance or has a grandiose perception of themselves. This is because we can have either an excess or a deficiency of energy in this chakra, which can manifest in different ways.
Expressions of imbalance in the solar plexus chakra tend to be fear-based. Judith calls fear the demon of this chakra; in terms of our spiritual development, fear that arises from a lack of trust in ourselves. Although the characteristics of deficient and excess sacral chakra energy are different, they are all fueled by fear and lack of established identity.
Characteristics of Deficient Energy in the Solar Plexus Chakra
- Suppressing emotions
- Victim mentality
Characteristics of Excess Energy in the Solar Plexus Chakra
- Issues with Control
- Overly emotionally expressive
Yoga Poses for the Solar Plexus Chakra
Fear is often what hinders us from living our best lives, and fear of Self keeps us from being our best selves. Overcoming fear and lack of confidence in ourselves comes from facing our issues head-on and learning and growing from each experience. At Inspiring Actions, our asana classes and frequent special events offer the opportunity to quiet our minds for the purpose of introspection and growth.
Sometimes looking at the areas in our life that need healing can be scary, and we offer a safe space to explore, reflect, and grow. Click here for a full list of our classes; we’d love to see you in our studios in Hudson and River Falls, Wisconsin, as well as online!
If any of the characteristics of an imbalanced solar plexus chakra resonated with you, check out the three poses below that can help stimulate and balance energy in the sacral chakra. You can practice these poses on their own or incorporate them into your regular asana practice. Join us next week as we learn about our fourth chakra, the heart chakra or anahata.