The Yoga of Confidence3 min read

In Wise Confidence we cover several somatic approaches to clearing emotional blockages and raising your energy levels:

This summary explores some key practices of my favorite approach: the Hatha Yoga tradition. We focus on the techniques that are directly connected with the manipura chakra, which is the energy center located in the solar plexus of the body. This center is essential for generating more energy, willpower, health, and inner fire.

The Importance of the Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)

The solar plexus is essential for generating more energy, willpower, and inner fire. It’s also important for maintaining good health. Key practices of the Yoga tradition that are directly connected to the manipura include:

  • Special postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditations
  • Inner work of overcoming limiting emotions that block our energy—such as shame, fear, disgust, jealousy, laziness, and sadness

To learn more I recommend you read:

Fire Cleansing (Agnisara)

This is one of my favorite Yoga techniques, and one I’ve practiced daily for a long time. The following instructions guide you through one round of the practice; do three rounds like that.

  • Sit on your knees or in a meditation posture, with your spine erect.
  • Inhale deeply, then exhale slowly, fully emptying your lungs.
  • Hold your breath. Place your open hands on your knees with the palms down, straighten your elbows, and lean forward slightly. Bend your neck so your chin touches your chest.
  • In this position, rapidly contract and expand the abdominal muscles, while still holding your breath, for as long as you comfortably can. Start with 10 movements, and over the months of practice increase it up to 108.
  • When you are done, lift your head up, unlock your arms, move your body back to the original position, then inhale very slowly.
  • Take a couple of slow, deep breaths.

For a more advanced version of this practice, at the end of the round, take one deep breath in and out, then hold your breath (empty lungs) for as long as possible, while holding what is known as the “triple lock” or “great lock” or mahabandha in Yoga.

To learn more, refer to Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda.

Bellows Breath (Bhastrika)

Together with agnisara, this is the main practice to awaken the manipura. See the notes below before engaging in this practice. The instructions guide you through one round; practice three to ten rounds in this manner.

  • Sit on your knees or in a meditation posture, with your spine erect.
  • Inhale deeply, then exhale slowly, one to three times.
  • Now forcefully inhale and exhale through the nose in a quick succession of short breaths. Both inhalation and exhalation should have the same length. When breathing out, the abdominal muscles fully contract (move inward); when breathing in, they fully expand (move outward). Do this for 10 to 50 breaths.
  • After the last short exhalation, inhale deeply and slowly, hold your breath for as long as comfortable, then breathe out deeply and slowly.
  • Take a few normal breaths.

The rhythm of the short breaths can be one full breath every two seconds, every one second, or even every half a second.

Don’t worry about increasing the speed of breaths, as this can lead to poor form. Over time they will get quicker. Instead, to deepen the practice, gradually increase the number of breaths per round, while keeping a steady rhythm.

The conservative advice of modern Yoga books is to increase each round up to 50 breaths. I’ve seen that, with care and consistent practice, many people can go far beyond that point. Personally, I do rounds of 300 to 1200 breaths, but this came only after several months of daily practice.

Caution must be exercised, as this can be a rather intense practice.

General Guidelines

Caution: Be careful with these practices, as they all have the effect of producing heat in your body and stimulating digestion and blood flow.

They are typically not recommended for pregnant women or for people with high blood pressure, inflammatory disorders, or diarrhea. Discontinue the practice if you experience adverse effects, or seek a qualified Yoga teacher. If you are pregnant or have medical conditions, consult your doctor about the suitability of these practices for you.

Time of Day: The best time to practice these techniques is early in the morning, after going to the bathroom and before breakfast. Do these techniques before your meditation practice, to help deepen its effects.

Length: You can practice these techniques for five minutes or, over time, up to half an hour—it depends on your available time and your goals.

For a deeper dive into these concepts, see the guided meditations on two related Yoga practices—Piercing the Sun Breathing and Throat Chakra meditation—in the Higher Mind app.

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