See earlier articles, Awaken Your Elemental Self: Essential Oils and Your Yoga Practice at http://ancientwaysbotanicals.com/2012/10/awaken-your-elemental-self-essential-oils-and-your-yoga-practice/ for introduction to using essential oils in your yoga practice, the Earth Element, and safety guidelines. See http://ancientwaysbotanicals.com/2013/02/awakening-the-water-element-essential-oils-and-your-yoga-practice/ for article on water element and your yoga practice.
The Fire Element (Agni)
The fire element is that part of nature that transforms one state of matter into another. For example, fire transforms the solid state of water (ice) into liquid water and then into its gaseous state (steam). Withdrawing fire recreates the solid state. Fire is a central element in many yogic and Tantric rituals because it is the means by which we can purify, empower, and control the other states of matter. Heat in our bodies also keeps us flexible, not rigid. Fire symbolizes transformation, passion, creativity. Fire in the body is related to hunger, thirst, and sleep.
Fire is the element representing the third/solar plexus chakra…the brain for our body.
The Third or Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)
The third chakra is located in the region of the abdomen and includes the organs of the stomach, liver, pancreas, upper intestines, and adrenals as well as the mid thoracic spine. Known as the solar plexus chakra, this energy center is associated with the color yellow to golden yellow, is symbolized by a downward pointing triangle within a ten petal lotus, and connects to the element of fire. The seed syllable is Ram. Fire gives us warmth, light, energy and clearing, in that it allows us to burn away physical debris. On a spiritual level this solar plexus fire is used for purification, burning out the old and negative belief patterns and the obsolete energies preventing us from moving forward on our spiritual path. The third chakra is our connection to the sun, to the source light. As the sun is our solar power, so the solar plexus chakra is our personal power. Here we are able to stand in our truth, to realize and be the statement of the “I AM”, and to resonate with our higher knowledge while co-creating with the more mundane. The third chakra is the bridge that allows the higher chakra energies to manifest on the physical level. It is our lower center of personal will.
On an emotional level, the third chakra is all about the self, our ego and the development of personal power. At puberty, we open the third chakra and begin to actualize a better sense of individuation and self-esteem. With a healthy solar plexus energy, the teenager will begin to move away from the family as the center of his tribe and relate more to others; understanding how he/she, as an individual, connects to the greater whole and to a communal tribe. With a strong solar plexus, a person will become more self-aware, and self-confident. This new found personal power can enable the individual to create and manifest his own personal beliefs and desires. This can often look like rebellion to the tribe/family, but is necessary if he is ever to realize his own self-respect and self-esteem. Words like self-responsibility, self-assertion, self-control, self-understanding, self-actualization and self-criticism are all solar plexus words. If this energy center is imbalanced or compromised, then a sense of rejection sets in. We become fearful and loose the ability to assert our true selves, sliding deeper into gloom, discouragement, and despair. We become unsure of our intuitive knowing and begin depending on others to create our reality. We give up our personal power, forfeit our self-respect and abandon our self-esteem. Luckily there are some essential oils that support our positive self-image and help us identify with a sense of self-empowerment.
Fire Element and Our Yoga Practice
We may bring more awareness and healing to the fire element and the third chakra through postures that generate heat, power, and resolve, “Fire is a powerful cleanser, burning up impurities. Asanas can be used to regulate the fire element. Dynamic asanas invoking movement, grace, and flow tend to increase fire in the body. This will burn out toxins from the other elements: earth, water and air. For example, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP) states that Matsyendrasana and Paschimottanasana can increase the digestive fire to such an incredible degree that they can remove diseases. Static poses tend to be more cooling and stabilizing, slowing the metabolic fire. A balanced sequence of asana that includes some movement and some stillness allows us to regulate fire as well as to harmonize the earth and air elements, two natural enemies.” From “Putifying the five Elements of Our Being” (Yoga journal, http://www.yogajournal.com/for_teachers/1603/
Addictive behaviors including eating disorders, digestive problems, feeling like a victim, or experiencing low self-esteem, abandonment or rejection can all be indications of a deficient third chakra. Third chakra poses fan the flames of your inner fire and restore vitality so that you can move from the strength of your core.
Perfectionism, difficulty controlling emotions, taking in more than you can assimilate, arrogant behavior, and feeling like the world revolves around you reveal an excessive third chakra. Restorative, passive backbends that cool off the belly’s fire act as calming agents for third chakra excess. (See chart for specific asanas.)
Essential Oil Connection
Essential oils for balancing the solar plexus chakra are:
- Black Pepper
- Ylang Ylang
Oils that assist the solar plexus on an emotional level are frankincense, rose, myrrh, neroli, sandalwood, chamomile, and rosemary.
As mentioned above, on a physical plane, the solar plexus center affects the digestive system, and partially the endocrine system. Essential oils that support the digestive tract, thus strengthening the physical aspects of the third chakra are peppermint, black pepper, lavender, chamomile, lemon, ginger, cardamom, fennel, bergamot, and rosemary. Essential oils that cleanse the liver and gall bladder are cypress, chamomile, lemon, juniper, rosemary, and helichrysum. Oils that lessen nervous tension which stresses the adrenal glands are basil, chamomile, lavender, cypress, bergamot, geranium, jasmine, marjoram patchouli, neroli, rose, sandalwood, and ylang ylang, just to name a few. All these oils will, in some way, support and nurture the third chakra center on a physical level.
The color yellow, associated with the third chakra, stimulates the intelligence centers of the brain. We learn on a gut level, which is why the solar plexus is considered one of our seats of wisdom. Here we have our internal living library, (everything our soul has learned through all of its lifetimes) and access to not only our perceived/learned knowledge but also our intuitive wisdom. Essential oils that connect us to our spiritual path and to our higher wisdom are frankincense, sandalwood, vetiver, angelica, cedarwood, jasmine, lavender, rose, neroli, helichrysum, and myrrh.
The third chakra holds us in our truth and allows us to stand in the strength of our personal will. On another level, as the sacral chakra is considered the seat of the Goddess, so the solar plexus chakra becomes the seat of the Godhead. When the flow of energy in the channels between the sacral and solar plexus chakras is open, then a balance of the masculine/feminine energies can be harmonized. By pulling up energy from the second chakra to the third, a union of intellect and intuitive understanding can manifest, creating a junction of self-empowerment and self-understanding, a true self-wisdom. The solar plexus shines the light of self-knowing on the self-creation of the sacral chakra. Then when the channels of energy flow one chakra higher, to the heart chakra, we will see how this all ties into attaining self-love. The essential oils frankincense representing the masculine, and galbanum representing the feminine, combined have the power to harmonize both the masculine and feminine.