A month or so ago I purchased The Chakra Deck (by Olivia H. Miller) at my trusty EastWest Bookshop (which just happens to be a hop, skip, and a jump away from my home). This colorful deck includes seven cards for each of the seven chakras: two cards describe specific characteristics of the chakra and the five others show exercises and yoga poses that support the chakra.
Today I am drawn to the Solar Plexus Chakra (also called the Navel Chakra). I've been dealing with a bit of anxiety lately (well, more than just a little), and I have felt this anxiety humming in my gut. When I am feeling anxious, I feel all my blood and energy run to my core, and there is sometimes a burning sensation there. Have you ever felt this? There is a reason for this surge of energy in the gut: there are so many nerves that innervate the abdomen! And one of these nerve bundles is the the solar plexus.
So what exactly is the solar plexus (also called the celiac plexus) in physiological terms?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary online describes this wonder bundle as follows: "1 : a nerve plexus in the abdomen that is situated behind the stomach and in front of the aorta and the crura of the diaphragm and contains several ganglia distributing nerve fibers to the viscera 2 : the pit of the stomach." This prominent nerve bundle controls many vital functions such as metabolic systems and digestion. The liver, stomach, gallbladder, adrenal glands, and spleen are all associated with this chakra.
And why is this plexus named "solar"? Many believe this is because the nerves emanate from the plexus like the sun's rays. I love this idea that there is a veritable sunburst residing in the center of me. I often describe this chakra as the place where our gut instincts reside. Miller describes this chakra as a "power center," and also an "area of assertiveness, intuition, and inner drive." The Solar Plexus Chakra is often associated with power, particularly personal power, and when we listen to the "sparks" inside us we are experiencing healthy self-esteem, confidence, and vitality. When we are in alignment with these inner rays, we are able to make decisions that match our gut instincts and our strong sense of self.
The yoga pose that I most enjoy in Miller's deck is Sun Meditation. I enjoy this pose because I feel like I am emulating the sun's rays with my arms spread out and open in a "V" shape. When doing this pose, be sure to breathe in and out with nice long breaths and imagine inhaling light and exhaling darkness. Miller then encourages us to focus on the following thought: "My power radiates from the center of my being."
Whenever I do this pose I feel much more grounded. I also feel surprisingly open, yet not so vulnerable. See how you feel when you open yourself to the gifts of the sun glowing inside the center of your body.