The solar plexus is our fire centre. It’s where we put our ideas into action and it’s from this space that we digest life, both physically and also in how we process the situations and circumstances life throws at us.
The solar plexus can affect whether we go with the flow and embrace life, or whether we swim against the tide and resist it.
In Sanskrit, the solar plexus chakra is called manipura, which means "city of jewels." These jewels are determination, will power, purpose, and direction. All of those qualities combine to create feelings of confidence and inner strength.
Working with poses that balance this energy centre have an uplifting effect on our entire sense of happiness and well-being. If energy work sounds a little hippy-dippy, then know that it can be as simple as adding a couple of yoga poses like these to your practice.
Probably no surprises here, but Plank has the ability to really stir up our solar plexus region! It can quickly build heat on the inside and out and can leave you feeling pretty fired up. It's no surprise that we see it so frequently in dynamic styles of yoga.
Both a transition and as a stand alone pose, Plank also appears in many forms of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) because of its strengthening and heating ability.
Tips: Lowering the knees for Half Plank is a great option if you are still working on building strength, but make sure you keep the core, thighs, and upper body switched on. There is a tendency to sink into the lower back, so keep the body in a nice, long line (er, like a plank).
Hold the pose for a couple of breaths beyond that point when the mind kicks in and says "enough!" Just that simple act of briefly ignoring the urge to give up can really help ignite your fire centre and build up your willpower and inner strength.
2. Warrior III
This is an amazing pose for building confidence! There’s something about standing strong on one leg as you simultaneously reach your arms and other leg in opposite directions that shouts: “I AM STRONG!” As with plank, it’s an easy one to give up in because it’s strong.
Bring your best self to the pose and own it, even if it’s just for a couple of breaths, and notice how that makes you feel.
Tips: Your core is the midpoint of the pose, so it needs to be switched on to anchor and balance you, but not so much that you can’t breathe effectively. If the legs go all floppy, you’ll lose the strength in the pose, so keep them strong.
Place your awareness on the navel and if you’re a visual person, you can imagine the colour yellow at that space.
3. Bow Pose
Manipura has an influence over some really important glands and organs in the body, particularly the liver, which is a key organ of digestion. Bow Pose stimulates both energy flow and blood flow to many of the organs, but its relationship with the liver is particularly awesome.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with anger and worry, so it stands to reason that practicing Bow can help us let go of our worries and create space for more fun stuff—like confidence!
Tips: You want to make sure you’ve warmed up first, particularly through the chest, shoulders, and hip flexors or thighs here. If your hips are tight, your knees will probably splay out. Imagine your inner knees have magnets here and draw them towards each other.
4. Child's Pose
Child's Pose is actually very soothing for the solar plexus chakra, so from a balance perspective it’s great to combine it with poses (like the previous three) that stoke your internal fire. It’s also a delicious way to soothe and relax your adrenal glands, which can get totally overworked when we’re frazzled.
Tips: Make yourself as comfortable as possible by placing a folded blanket under your knees and/or a cushion between the back of your knees and your sit bones. As you inhale, feel the breath reaching the area around the navel and as you exhale, feel the breath flood through the whole torso, creating calmness as it moves.
5. Corpse Pose
It may not seem as though Savasana has a huge effect on anything, but it’s actually a very powerful pose. With the body still and relaxed, you can take your awareness beyond the body and the simple act of focusing your mind on a certain place can have a positive effect. That old saying, “where the mind goes the energy flows,” has merit here.
Tip: Visualise a yellow lotus flower sitting on top of the navel, and watch the flower rise and fall with every inhale and exhale.
Manipura also relates to and affects our digestion, so adding twisting postures to your practice can also have a really positive effect on this space. Remember that the key word is balance. All aspects of us—body, mind, and breath—seek balance as a natural state, including the solar plexus.