Consider the solar plexus your mind/body headquarters. In physical terms, this large cluster of nerves is tucked behind the stomach, slightly below the diaphragm, which affects breathing and posture.
Emotionally, it's where you notice your fear, anxiety, and intuition, those gut feelings that often play a role in decision making. The Ayurvedic tradition views the solar plexus as the seat of the third chakra, one of the seven energy centers of the body. When prana, or life energy, flows freely through this area, you feel more confident, grounded, and secure.
Given its role in mind/body health, it's no surprise that toning your solar plexus area would require a more comprehensive approach than simply doing sit-ups. To open the third chakra, you need to be aware of how you carry yourself, how you sit, and how you move throughout the day. The results are often dramatic. When Body+Soul contributor Ellen Barrett teaches her students about third-chakra energy, she notices a difference in herself right away. I always feel my own energy grow, she says. My breathing gets deeper, my voice becomes more resonant and confident, and my posture more regal.
Barrett's approach to core power draws from a range of fitness practices: Pilates, yoga, dance, and even childhood games. Her routine begins with an awareness-raising meditation that enables you to move with intention. The exercises below help stimulate your solar plexus and third chakra, deepen your breathing, reinforce good posture, and promote energy flow. Practice these exercises regularly to maintain a healthy core and feel centered all day.
Text by Terri Trespicio; photos by Victoria Pearson