Friday, February 27, 2009

Manipura Chakra Meditation and Pranayama

The Manipura is associated with the sense of seeing as well as fire. So it seems natural to recommend trying a candle meditation for this particular chakra. If you can, use a pillar candle that melts down the center and allow the flame to burn below the top of the candle. This way, you can more easily stare at the flame’s light for a longer period of time. However, if your eyes are not quite so sensitive to light, you can stare directly at the flame. Use either a yellow or white candle, if possible. Preferably one that is unscented. Get into a comfortable seated position. I prefer sitting in Hero’s pose with my meditation pillow between my legs. Choose a position that is the most comfortable for you. The room should be dimly lit or the lights turned off altogether so you can focus more fully on the flame. For this reason, this is an especially lovely meditation to do in the evening or very early in the morning before the sun rises. As you do when using the yoga practices, focus your breathing down into the chakra as you stare just slightly above, beyond, or below the candles flame. Your focus should be very soft although you will occasionally have to draw your focus back with intention if your mind strays. This is perfectly natural and you should not put any more energy into having to return to the meditation than you do to losing your focus. For this chakra, I also recommend doing Kapalabhati Pranayama. This is a more advanced form of pranayama than the ones I have recommended before so I urge anyone to do this with caution. Please take the time to read Yoga Journal’s article on this practice to check for any contraindications. In a comfortable seated position, you will want to breath deeply into the belly. Rather than slowly exhale, you will force the air out of your lungs, through the nose, using the abdominal muscles and your diaphragm in particular. Whereas the exhalation is very active, the inhalation is passive—you simply allow the diaphragm and abdomen to fall back into place before once again forcing the air out on the exhale. This can take some practice as it is often difficult to allow yourself or your body to be passive. Begin with only ten cycles of inhalation and exhalation. When you have done ten, exhale naturally and inhale naturally. Gradually, over time, try to build up the number of explosive/passive breaths to however many you like. I recommend doing all three of the pranayama practices I have described either working upwards from the Muladhara Chakra or down from the Manipura Chakra. Whichever you choose, it is important to end your pranayama practice by simply breathing naturally, slowly, and allowing yourself time to think about how you are feeling before getting up and going about your day. (The image I used is from this website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bdmckeown/ )

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