Manipura: the third chakra, located at the navel. It’s the inner fire waiting to awaken inside you, the radiant “city of jewels” shining within, and your best friend in the practice of yoga.
Behind any great accomplishment in this world, you’ll find the power of manipura. It’s the spark that gets you moving to embark on new plans and visions, and the courage to carry forward despite difficulties. “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” and manipura is the very manifestation of willpower.
This is true for spiritual accomplishments just as much as for success in business or whatever else. All the great masters in history showed tremendous manipura. They might be known more for their heart or clarity of awareness, but that courage and absolute commitment is necessary to progress on the path.
It takes a lot of willpower to practice intensely every day, and to give up the habits and diversions that are not aligned with that practice.
It takes huge confidence to persist even when sometimes it seems like you aren’t making any progress, and when the whole world around you thinks you’re crazy for putting spirituality front and center in your life.
And it takes courage to dive into the unknown, leaving behind everything you used to believe, which is where any authentic spiritual path will take you.
The fire of manipura is ultimately a fire of transformation. Just like the digestive “fire”—the physical expression of manipura—absorbs food and transforms it into substances and energy for the body, this chakra allows you to turn everything in your life into fuel for evolution. It governs an alchemical process known in yoga as sublimation, by which energies from the lower chakras can be moved to the higher energy centers.
In this way, manipura is a like the sacred fire at the heart of a ritual, burning up the appearance of materiality to reveal all as pure Spirit.
The beauty of a balanced manipura chakra
When your manipura is strong and balanced, you will feel centered and confident. You will have a sense of inner lightness and activity, without getting agitated. You’ll have the willpower and determination to accomplish anything you set your heart on.
People around you will notice and react to the power of your presence. You’ll have a certain radiance that causes people to gravitate to you, to trust you and accept you as a natural leader. Or if you find yourself in a position to follow another person as a leader, you’ll do so with grace and loyalty.
With strong manipura, you’ll be brave and levelheaded in any situation, able to act decisively and with precision.
For examples of beautiful, highly spiritual manipura, look at great martial artists or Zen monks, with their clarity radiating from that city of jewels.
Signs of a weak manipura
If this is not yet your situation, it’s possible that you either don’t have a strong activation of manipura chakra, or you have manipura in an unbalanced way. These are signs of a lack of manipura:
- You are shy and self-doubting
- You frequently start projects but then give up at the first sign of difficulty
- You want to make changes in your life but can’t get yourself to actually do it
- You easily get lost in emotions, especially falling into sadness or depression
- You usually follow the crowd rather than assert yourself
- You have trouble maintaining your own boundaries
Signs of an unbalanced or impure manipura
Lacking manipura is a common problem in our svadhisthana-dominated society. Just shifting your level of consciousness from svadhisthana to manipura will already bring a huge transformation in your life, dissolving a lot of problems that until then might have seemed like they could never go away!
Still, manipura is one of the lower chakras, prone to its own impurities and ego-dominated expressions. The following signs show that you need to work to refine and balance the energy in manipura, to make it a graceful expression of the Fire element:
- You are overly assertive and domineering
- You have a fiery temper
- You can’t handle other people telling you what to do
- You’re strongly convinced of your own grandeur
- You’re overly critical of others
- You constantly feel the need to prove yourself, unable to accept failure or recognize someone else as being right
How to improve your manipura
Whether your manipura is weak or out of balance, here are some ideas on how to stoke the fire in a harmonious way.
- Hatha yoga. Since manipura is so important in yoga, it’s no surprise that hatha yoga is full of techniques for it. Some will increase the inner fire, others bring more balance and refinement.
- Tapas. Not the tasty Spanish appetizers, but one of Patanjali’s five niyamas (positive spiritual attitudes). “Tapas” can be translated as discipline, austerity, or intensity. Many yogis will take a tapas as a commitment to doing a certain practice every day, no matter what. This is an incredible way to build discipline and willpower—as long as you stick to it!
- Challenge yourself. Apart from the formal practice, find ways to challenge yourself and push your limits in daily life, a little bit every day. As they say, “do one thing every day that scares you.”
Sexuality on manipura chakra
Imagine the movement of a brilliant flamenco dancer: passionate, intense, a brilliant play of speed and precision in motion.
Now take that image to the bedroom and you can understand sexuality in manipura chakra.
Sex on manipura is hot and wild. No holds barred, nothing held back. It can get a bit rough: from scratching, biting and hair pulling, all the way to full-on BDSM. It’s all about power (Foucault would be proud), so a little kinkiness should be no surprise.
The intensity of third-chakra sex is thrilling and brings some spiciness into the bedroom, welcome especially for long-term couples. Just make sure that everyone feels comfortable and enthusiastic, and that eventually you bring all that fire into the heart.