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Breath Sparks the Flame of Spirit

By Shabad Kaur and Shiva Singh

“By thinking and thinking nothing happens...Though I may think a thousand times.” -Guru Nanak, Japji Sahib

You can think all day about being motivated, but what does that accomplish? Probably not much. The Manipura (3rd Chakra) is located in the space between the navel and the Solar Plexus, and acts as the seat of the sense of self and the center of gravity of the physical body. If balanced, the physical self will be radiant and the mental body will resist negativity!

Roughly translated, the Manipura is the ‘Jeweled City.’ The umbilicus—the original source of our sustenance in the womb—is located here. It’s our energetic power source when we spark the flame of this solar center. As our body temple was first formed, the umbilical cord was connected to the lotus of the placenta, which created our foundation of vitality—a cellular intelligence to generate the spark that creates movement in life. In fact, it essentially manifested you!

“Third Chakra is the navel point. Navel point is gain and loss, yes and no, me and you. Here lies the pure energy; also duality and Infinity are there. When you talk from Third Chakra, you talk.” -Yogi Bhajan

Motivational speakers love to call it “fire in the belly” to light a fire of inspiration within oneself. As Yogis, we’re activating the Manipura, experiencing a powerful sense of ambition or determination. It supports and activates our will to ever move forward, providing emotional stamina, vigor, and an eagerness to try again, and to Keep Up with an attitude of gratitude.

Sharing that space with the Manipura is the Samana Vayu. There’s a strong relationship between Prana/Air and how it literally feeds the fire at the 3rd Chakra. The movement of the area between the diaphragm and navel is all about the breath! It’s the breath that gets you going. Like the flames in a fire, the 3rd Chakra energy has an eager upward movement. Seated at the navel, the balancing Samana Vayu, is at the meeting point between Prana and Apana Vayus, uniting these energies. Consider this: by matching the length and depth of each inhalation and exhalation, Prana meets Apana, thereby helping to balance Samana and 3rd Chakra.

With a strong 3rd Chakra, our visions will manifest and we walk forward in Cherdi Kala, ever-rising spirit. All it might take is a spark of the breath and maybe some leg lifts!

Here are a few yogic suggestions to help activate the 3rd Chakra and aid your action towards your goals: 

Action #1: Practice Breath of Fire. Moving the navel and diaphragm brings balance to support your intentions, to generate that inner heat. Taking in that which we need and discarding that which does not serve us helps to set the balance that arises with Samana Vayu.

Action #2: Address Emotional Health. Each day for 40 days reflect on what aspects of your life need balance. Meditate at the 3rd Chakra on what nourishes you and also release what no longer serves you. This is a way to work on your Samana Vayu and Manipura Chakra.

Action #3: Practice Archer Pose: Archer Pose is excellent for building courage, bringing a heightened awareness of what needs to be done and envisioning ways to move forward.

Directions for Archer Pose (see also Archer Pose):

Stand with the left leg forward, bending the knee so that the thigh is as close to parallel to the ground as possible. (Over time gradually go deeper into the posture.) The lower front leg is perpendicular to the ground so that the knee is over the heel and not forward over the toes. The left leg is straight back, with the foot flat on the ground. The right heel is directly behind the left heel. Check your posture so you are not leaning forward. The spine should be straight with the head over the tailbone.

The left arm is extended forward parallel to the ground. Hand is in a fist with the thumb over the fingers and pointing forward. The right arm is bent and pulled back like pulling on a bowstring. Feel a tension across the chest; open the heart. Fix your attention on your thumb pointing to the horizon. Hold the position with long deep breathing or Breath of Fire for 3-5 minutes. Switch sides and repeat for 3-5 minutes. If you choose, work up to 11 minutes on each side.

Shabad Kaur Khalsa, LCPC, LMFT, E-RYT 500, KRI Level 1 Lead Teacher Trainer, organizes and leads the Annual Midwest Women’s Yoga Retreat. She is co-founder and director of Spirit Rising Yoga Center and Spirit Rising Foundation. She has taught Kundalini Yoga as well as practiced psychotherapy for nearly 30 years, integrating the yogic teachings into treatment for adults and couples.

She is honored to have served Yogi Bhajan directly and has transcribed, edited, and illustrated several books including his Women’s Camp lectures, Master’s Touch and Flow of Eternal Power. The health and empowerment of women through the teachings of Kundalini Yoga is a cause that is near and dear to her heart and she also specializes in Humanology, marriage, conscious birth, self-care, and health and wellness.[email protected]

Shiva Singh Khalsa, E-RYT 500, is the co-founder of Spirit Rising Yoga Center, President and CEO of Spirit Rising Foundation, and a KRI-certified Mentoring Lead Teacher Trainer. Since 1971 he has taught and practiced with the guidance of Yogi Bhajan, who said of Shiva Singh, "You have always been an inspiration to me." Shiva Singh draws on a wealth of experience acquired through decades of spiritual practice, devotion and service. This is the foundation for his teaching and his life. He is known as a Jupiter teacher—jovial, inspiring and uplifting.

As a minister of Sikh Dharma International, he is recognized as a leader of the spiritual/interreligious community, as well as an activist of HIV prevention and care of the aged and infirm. Shiva Singh teaches and lectures on yoga and meditation, spirituality and transformation, diet and nutrition, and other mind-body topics in a long list of venues including state prisons, places of worship and wellness centers. He has always emphasized the personal transformation possible through the practice of the 3HO lifestyle.