Location: The solar plexus cakra is located deep in the upper abdomen from the navel to the solar plexus
Function: Will, power, assertiveness
Inner State: Laughter, joy, anger
Body Parts: Digestive system, muscles
Malfunction: Ulcers, diabetes, hypoglycemia, digestive disorders
(Wheels of Life)
In sanskrit, this cakra is called manipuraka and means shining jewel or lustrous jem. By engaging with the transfomative energy of this center, we can begin to express our unique gifts and talents, we can assert our power positively in the world, and we can cultivate and nourish the energy that allows us do what we are meant to do…and we can feel a deep sense of joy doing it!
As I mentioned before, each level in this model builds on the previous…there is always interplay between the centres. Matter (root) and movement (sacral) come together at this point to create energy…just like two sticks being rubbed together to create fire. And, fire is the element associated with this centre. Think about the vibrant, transformative power of fire and you’ll begin to get a sense of what this cakra is all about.
When we think about food, our digestive fire is what transforms the food we eat into usable energy. The higher quality the food, the higher quality the energy, and, I would argue, the higher quality our actions. The solar plexus cakra is intimately connected with digestion. While it is fun to explore the themes of this centre (transformation, joy, passion, will etc.) across our life this week, on a practical level, let this week be about improving digestion. For example, yellow foods like pineapple and ginger can both be used before meals to strengthen our digestive fire. One of the recipes below (Kitchari) is a balm for digestion…eat it as much as you like this week to give your system a reprieve.
Questions to ponder:
Do you feel like you are at your ideal weight?
Would you describe your energy as “high quality” or are stimulants like coffee and sugar required to fuel your day?
Do you feel secure and confident in most social situations?
Do you look outside of yourself for feedback and reassurance or can you find strength and confidence within yourself?
Do you feel inspired?
Do you eat mindfully or mindlessly? What do you find yourself thinking or doing during mealtimes?
Practices to strengthen the solar plexus cakra:
When you are out walking, at work, or running errands, start to notice the colour yellow. Let it jump out at you!
Notice your reactions to being in a variety of social/professional settings this week. In which settings do you feel the most confident? The least?
Notice which foods have power over you. Reread the “cravings” blog to begin to connect with food on a different level.
Notice which foods feel like they add to your vitality and which foods deplete your vitality…Try waiting 20 minutes after you eat and then assessing how you feel.
The element associated with the solar plexus cakra is fire…add some spice to your meals this week!
Strengthen the assertive energy of this centre by saying “no, thank you” if someone offers you food that you know doesn’t resonate with you or make you feel good.
Play inspiring, energetic music while you prepare your meals this week.
Foods to strengthen the solar plexus cakra:
As you go about your week, try to incorporate one of these foods into each meal. As you prepare and eat your meals, take the time to acknowledge that you are adding these foods in order to engage the energy of fire, and to strengthen your ability to digest foods, thoughts, and ideas!
But don’t leave the root and sacral cakra-s behind! Continue to refer to the tips in previous entries so that by the end of the 7 weeks, you will have built a collection of simple tools to nourish your entire physical and energetic being.
Carbohydrates: In the third cakra, matter (root) and movement (sacral) combine to form energy. This centre is all about having the confidence, energy, and vitality to express our personal power and do what we are meant to be doing out in the world. It is logical, therefore, that the macronutrient associated with this cakra is the carbohydrate. When the body breaks down carbs, we are provided with either a quick or a long-lasting energy source. Our vitality is reflected in the quality of our energy. If we want to have a strong vitality, it makes sense that we would want to consume high quality, or complex, carbohydrates.
Sources: whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, barley, oatmeal etc.), beans (chick peas, lentils etc.), vegetables (leafy greens, sweet potatoes etc.), fruit (often fruit provides simple sugars so choosing low glycemic fruits like apples, berries, cherries will be beneficial)
Fiber: Given that the solar plexus cakra informs digestive processes in the body, it makes sense that incorporating fiber into our diets will be very health promoting. First, the fiber helps to release glucose in a slow, steady way into our bloodstream so that we can sustain our energy over a long period of time. Second, fiber helps to promote regular elimination. This is incredibly important, as toxins must have a reliable way to leave our system.
Sources: whole grains, nuts and seeds, fruit, ground flaxseed, vegetables…
Yellow foods: Why not be playful and see how many creative ways you can bring yellow into your diet this week! Be conscious each time you eat yellow food so that your mind and energy body are connected in your efforts to engage the solar plexus cakra.
Sources: bananas, grapefruit, lemons, pineapples, corn, ginger, yellow peppers, yellow squash, chick peas, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, cornmeal, millet…
JUICE: I just played around and tried to come up with a delicious yellow juice…I tried juicing an apple, a lemon, 12 pineapple spears (or so), and a generous chunk of ginger. To curb the impact of the fruit sugar on my bloodstream, I sprinkled it with cinnamon. Yummy!
SMOOTHIE: If I come up with a yellow smoothie, I’ll let you know! If you want to embrace carbs this week, try the Date Almond Smoothie on my blog.
GHEE: In the Ayurvedic system of health, ghee (clarified butter) is used extensively. You couldn’t consume anything this week that will be a more stunning shade of yellow…and it supports digestion too!
1 lb organic butter
- Heat butter over low/medium heat so that it doesn’t burn.
- When it has all melted, begin to skim off all the white milk solids that float to the top.
- Keep heating the butter until it starts to sizzle (not boil)…this means that all the water has evaporated. Let cool.
- Store ghee in a wide-mouthed glass jar for easy access!
~With gratitude to Caroline Dupont
KITCHARI: Also from the Ayurvedic tradition, kitchari is a staple dish because of its ability to be easily digested. I recently completed an Ayurvedic cleanse and ate nothing but this dish for a week. It’s remarkable when your system isn’t spending excess energy digesting, how much clarity and insight comes. Eat kitchari as often as you like this week…give your system a breather!
¼-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed
¼-1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
¼-1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
2.5 cups water
¼ cup mung beans
¼ cup basmati rice ( you can substitute quinoa for rice)
¼ tsp sea salt or Braggs amino acid
1. In a saucepan, over a low ﬂame, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds until they pop.
2. Add the cumin, fennel, and turmeric until the spices marry.
3. Rinse the mung beans and add to the spices and oil until the mung beans are coated.
4. Add the water and bring to a boil. Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Rinse the rice and add to the mixture and continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes. You may need to add more water if the mixture thickens and the rice needs further cooking.
6. Turn off the heat and add the coriander.
7. You can eat this separately or steam/stir fry some vegetables and add them to the mixture. Good choices are kale, and zucchini. Total cooking time is 20 minutes.
~With gratitude to Eleni Tsikrikas (Ayurvedic Specialist)
RAW OATMEAL RAISIN (OR CHOCOLATE CHIP) COOKIES
1 cup oats (raw if you can find them but that’s tricky!)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup firmly packed pitted Medjool dates
½ cup raisins or chocolate chips
- Combine the oats and cinnamon in the food processor and process. Add the dates and process to mix well. Add the raisins and pulse to mix.
- Roll the dough out and use cookie cutters to make fun shapes or simply roll tiny balls and flatten. (If you choose to leave the raisins and chocolate chips out, a nice touch is to push a small indent into the centre of the cookie and put a dollop of apple butter).
~Ani’s Raw Food Desserts