The Sanskrit wold mani means 'gem' or 'jewel'; the word pur means 'city'. Therefore the word "manipura" means the "city of jewels'. It is so called because of the intensity of the pranic energy of this centre. The physical location point for manipura chakra is in the middle of the spine directly behind the navel. Manipura kshetram is exactly at the navel.
Manipura chakra is the centre of prana within the human framework. It is often called the 'sun chakra' as it radiates and distributes pranic energy of life throughout the entire body. It is also compared to a blazing fire as it burns up and assimilates the energy in food.
Contrary to the tantric-yogic concept, Buddhists regard manipura as the seat of kundalini. In reality, kundalini can be regarded as residing in all the chakras. Tantra and yoga regard spiritual life, or expansion of awareness, as commencing at the level of mooladhara. On the other hand, Buddhists ascertain that man's consciousness begins to expand from manipura chakra. They consider the two lower chakras to belong to the higher ranges of animal life, whereas manipura chakra marks the beginning of the evolution of the higher man. Once consciousness is established in manipura it is confirmed awakening; there is no danger of downfall. At the level of mooladhara or swadhisthana, consciousness is liable to recede.
Manipura is the centre of self-assertion. One becomes dynamic and energetic and tends to dominate situations and other people. There are many who function at this level. They see all things and all people as a means of providing personal power and satisfying their worldly ambitions. This is expressed in the predominant motive of gaining wealth and a great deal of respect. It is at this level that people seriously begin to question their attitude towards life and their place in the scheme of existence.
Manipura is symbolic of fire (agnic) principle [tattwa] and is closely related to the sense of light and movement of the feet.
Manipura is represented as a bridge yellow lotus with ten petals.
The yantra is a red triangle and inside the triangle is a blazing sun.
Ram is the bija mantra. The animal serves as the vehicle of manipura is a ram, symbol of assertiveness and energy.
According to hatha yoga, the practice of trataka will awaken manipura chakra because of its connection with the eyes. One should remember that any practices concerned with developing awareness of manipura chakra will greatly benefit digestion.
Uddiyana Bandha (abdominal contraction)
Sit in siddha/siddha yoni asana or padmasana with the spine erect and the knees in contact with the floor.
Place the palms of the hands on the knees.
Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
Exhale deeply and retain the breath outside.
Perform jalandhara bandha.
Then contract the abdominal muscles as far as possible inwards and upwards.
This is the final position. Hold this lock for as long as possible without creating any strain.
Slowly release the stomach muscles, then jalandhara bandha and inhale deeply.
This is one round. Practice 3 rounds and gradually increase to 10 rounds over a few months.
Focus your awareness at manipura kshetram.
Now as you inhale imagine you are drawing the breath in through the navel and send it up the front of the body to ajna chakra.
As you exhale chant the mantra ram on a low note.
Chant continuously and rhythmically until exhalation is complete: ram-ram-ram-ram. Feel the mantra travelling down from ajna through the spine to manipura chakra.
This is one round. Practice 13 rounds.
Become acutely aware of manipura chakra. Continue to inhale through the navel and as the breath ascends to ajna try to visualize it as a pranic light. White streaks of light, experienced like a current of energy charging the upper portion of the body. As you exhale visualize this pranic energy descending through the spine to manipura chakra. Practice 7 rounds.
Then take your awareness to chidakasha. Witness your feelings, thoughts and any sensations in the body.
Now imagine a ram manifesting in chidakasha. A strong robust ram, kicking his hind legs out behind him. A ram... symbol of energy and assertiveness.
Now flash to a red triangle... simple red triangle...red triangle...yantra of the fire element.
Within the triangle is a blazing sun. A very bright sun, radiating heat. Try to see this sun and feel its energy and warmth.
Take your attention from this blazing sun and see manipura as a bright yellow lotus. A bright yellow lotus with ten petals. Slowly the lotus begins to turn...ten yellow petals going around and round...spinning lotus...whirling yellow vortex of primal energy.
See yourself being drawn into the spinning whirlpool of energy. Merge into it and feel its vibrant energy pulsating through you. After sometime this vision will fade.
Then become aware of your natural breath.
Awareness of your body and its surroundings.
Chant Om 3 times, then slowly open your eyes.
Source:Excerpts from the book on "Sure Ways of Self realization" written by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.