Whether you’re new to yoga or have been practicing for a while, you may have heard people mention the chakras. So, in this week’s blog, we wanted to give you a bit of a background on what the chakras are, and go a bit deeper into the first chakra, the root chakra, where everything begins. And in the weeks that follow we’ll explore each of the main seven chakras in more detail.
In Sanskrit, the word “ chakra” means disc or wheel, and it refers to energy centers throughout the body. These discs of energy correspond to certain nerve bundles and major areas and organs in the body and have been studied for thousands of years. There are seven main chakras that run along the base of your spine, starting with your root chakra, by your tailbone, and working the way all the way up to the crown of your head. As yoga practitioners, we work to keep the chakras open, allowing energy to flow along one continuous line from our toes to the top of our head. Blocked chakras result in imbalances in the body, which can manifest in body physical and mental disruptions. As we explore each chakra, we’ll discuss what imbalances may occur and what we can do both on and off our mats to open them up and come back into a balanced state. The key here is balance: we neither want a chakra blocked or too open. The best way to think about it is like drinking from a fountain of water: if the spout is blocked, you don’t get enough to drink no matter how hard you try, and if too much water rushes out, we get splashed, we can choke, or will just back away. The same is true for energy ( and Goldilocks): we need to find a pathway to make it just right.
The Root Chakra “ Muladhara”
The root chakra is located at the base of your spine. It provides you with a base or foundation for life. It helps you feel grounded and supported and helps you withstand challenges in life. Its responsible for your sense of safety and stability. It also governs our primal survival instinct and our fight or flight response. It generally corresponds to our development in the first seven years of our lives and governs the base of the spine, perineum, legs, feet, large intestine and adrenal glands ( those pesky things that govern our stress and rest response). Its color is red, and its chant is LAM.
Imbalances in the root chakra can be cause by any type of trauma, physical neglect, major illness, surgery, financial stress, environmental stress ( pandemic anyone??), and any other feelings of instability, lack of control or abandonment. Imbalances manifest by being overly fearful, ungrounded, flighty, feeling of not belonging, being too tied down or rigid, or overly practical.
So, what can we do to bring it back into balance?
Poses such as uttanasana ( forward fold), balasana ( child’s pose), sukhasana ( easy seat), dandasana ( staff pose), tadasana ( mountain pose), utkatasana ( chair), and virbhdrasana ( warrior) 1 and 2 all support rooting and grounding back into the earth and our mats.
And off our mats, we can use mantras like “ I exist”, “ I am here, and I am safe”, or “ I am divinely supported” in our daily meditation practice. We can eat red colored or earthy foods, like root vegetables and proteins like beans and eggs. And we can also connect to the earth in other ways with activities like dance, drumming, playing with animals, or just walking barefoot on grass. With practice, you’ll start feeling your root chakra come into balance with increased feelings of safety, security, connectedness to yourself and others, and a general all around increase in physical health.
So this week maybe try and work on incorporating one thing into your daily practice to support your root chakra and see what a difference it makes.
Until next week,