This term we are using the Manas Chakra as our guide for exploration, a little-known chakra which has 8 multicoloured petals, pointing to different points on the compass. See earlier posts for more information about this fascinating chakra and the ancient texts where it is described.
This week we are focusing on the petal which points to the south. The universal mother text tells us “when attention comes to rest in the black southern petal then thought breaks up your anger.”
It is important to understand that the usage of chakras was largely as visualization tools, as an aid to contemplative meditation practices. It is also important to understand that the chakras were thought to be threaded like flowers onto the central energetic stem of the body (in front of the spine), and therefore we should visualize them as three dimensional in the body, pointing front, back and to the sides, rather than 2 dimensional (which is how they are often drawn) with the petals just pointing up and down.
The information on this chakra starts at the East. This makes sense as we know that in traditional yoga practice of the time, practices were done in the early morning facing the rising sun- to the east. Therefore, the Eastern petal is towards the front of the body and the western petal points behind. The Southern Petal then, by logic points to the right of the body.
Why is this important? Well at about the level of this chakra, which is above the navel and under the diaphragm sits the liver…. The liver is a large organ and is important in digesting food and eliminating toxins from the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the liver is thought to be associated with anger, resentment, frustration, irritability, bitterness, and flying off the handle in rage.
I find the co-incidence of this text pointing us directly towards the liver to dissolver anger interesting. It makes sense as we also remember that there was no distinction between the body and the mind.
So how can yoga help dissolve anger? We start by listening to the wisdom of this text to bring our awareness to it. Once we are aware of something then we are able to allow it to soften and flow. Often emotions become stagnant when we avoid them or ignore them. Yoga by its nature helps us to be more intentional with where we place our attention.
Once we can recognize anger, then we can soften, soothe and allow it to move through us. Turning towards ourselves with compassion, using massage on the liver and kidney area can be helpful to this. Gentle twists can also massage the connective tissues around the organs as can using the breath, especially longer exhale breaths. I've drawn a bit of a short sequence you can try to bring gentle awareness to the liver when angry- I'll explain these more in classes, especially the banana child pose!