The navel chakra is located two centimeters below the navel while the solar plexus chakra is located in the middle of the abdomen. These chakras can be exercised by employing uddiyana bandha. To begin, sit in the lotus position observing your breath. Inhale a normal breath and as you exhale, pull your abdomen up and in as strongly as you can. This action completely forces all the air of your lungs. Hold your abdomen in for 10 to 15 seconds and then release allowing your abdomen to expand naturally without any effort. As you exhale again, repeat the contraction of your abdomen. Your muscular movement is identical to your practice of breath of fire; the difference is that uddiyana bandha is held longer and breathing is slower.
Contraction of the abdomen expels stagnant air from the bottom of your lungs. Repeat this process 10 times and then return to your normal breathing. Observe the feelings and sensations in your abdomen and your mind. Has your breathing pattern changed in any way? Regularly practicing uddiyana bandha stimulates your liver and digestion system. It contributes to raising vital energy upwards through your chakras. As you’ve certainly noticed, it trains you to breathe from your abdomen rather than just your chest. I find that this exercise calms me very much and supports me to practice Vipassana meditation for a longer period of time and with much greater calmness of mind.
The Heart Chakra
To exercise the heart region, this Kundalini technique loosens up your spine and ribcage to deepen your breathing. Kneel on a cushion and sit on your heels. Reach your arms up and place your hands on your shoulders. Your fingers should be in front while your thumbs are on the back of your shoulders.
Hold your elbows so they are parallel to the floor. Now, inhale as you twist your whole body to the left. Then, twist to the right and exhale. Twist your whole body to loosen your spine. Continue for several minutes inhaling from the left, exhaling to the right. The benefit of this exercise is twofold. It loosens up the spine while increasing the strength of your lungs. This is a good exercise to limber up prior to sitting meditation.
You can also do this during meditation if your back is feeling stiff. May I take this opportunity to remind you to actually DO these exercises! Just reading about them is, how shall we say, useless. The value is in the actual practice. So please, slide away from the computer and practice each of these techniques and observe how your body and mind respond.
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