How Yoga Helps Anxiety: The Third Chakra

Background on Energy Flow through the body

Chakras are the invisible points through which energy flows in the body.  There are seven in total beginning with the root chakra at the base of your sitting bones moving straight upward through the crown of your head to the crown chakra.  Importantly, when one of these points is “blocked” and energy cannot flow through, the body shows negative mental and physical symptoms.  This blockage (or blockages) can be relieved through the yoga asanas, or poses, in addition to chants, affirmations and hand gestures (mudras).  These help to open and align the chakra center. I discuss the third chakra here as it relates to tempering anxiety.

The first three lower chakras are physical in nature: muladhara, svadhisthana and manipura (root, pelvic and naval).  These are responsible for your emotional health and physical identity.  Balancing the three is the key to boosting your confidence and managing anxiety. 

3rd Chakra: Naval

The third “naval” chakra called Manipura in Sanskrit, is a balancing chakra at the center of metabolism and digestion.  This chakra is the basis of the body’s agni, or ability to process food and sensory elements.  Digestion is of importance here, so overeating, drinking heavily and eating cold foods will offset this “naval” chakra.  

Location: At the solar plexus between belly button and the bottom of the rib cage.

Organs impacted: stomach, liver, gall bladder, large intestine; endocrine: adrenals and pancreas

Color: Yellow/Gold

Element: Fire

Foods to help unblock: Tumeric, sunflower seeds, bananas, lemons, chamomile, ginger

When blocked, problems such as anxiety, depression, self-doubt, eating disorders, and restlessness will manifest in the body.  When my anxiety is high, I look towards clearing my third chakra.  After researching the third chakra and the healing that can take place, I have incorporated some of the below into my daily and/or weekly workout routines.

Yoga Asanas to Open and Activate the Third Chakra

Boat Pose/Navasana

Bow Pose/Dhanurasana

Seated Forward Fold

Warrior I and II

Spinal Twist

Camel Pose

Bhastrika Breath-This is both a cleansing breath and energy booster before meals.  Seated with your spine straight, take a few deep, audible breaths to allow your belly to expand.  Slowly exhale while you contract your abdominal muscles.  Follow through with a quick, inhale, releasing the abdominal muscles.

Chanting/Affirmations

Repeat the following words and phrases:

I am competent and I like my body.

I love and accept myself.

I am an authentic being.

I have the courage to love myself and others.

Mudra/Hand Gesture

Surya Mudra (aka The”Weight Loss” chakra)– Sit in Easy Pose on the floor or on a chair.  Bend both ring fingers inward and place the tops of the thumbs over the outer ring fingers at the second phalanx applying gentle pressure. Use belly breathing for several breaths or as long as you have time to relax.  Try to perform this mudra daily for 30min or three times per day for 10 minutes each.

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