|Roots by Jamie Wyeth|
In part 1 of my series on chakras Chakras: Guides on the Path to Healing I offered an overview of the chakras. This post will cover Muladhara, the root chakra.
First, let me give you some context. If you are interested in original sources and how different systems use the chakras, check out Christopher Wallis, Ph.D., at The Real Truth About the Chakras for a deep dive into this complex and complicated topic.
The traditional history is connected to the contemporary view by understanding that the chakras are, as Wallis informs us, prescriptive not descriptive:
“The texts are prescriptive — they tell what you ought to do to achieve a specific goal by mystical means. When the literal Sanskrit reads, in its elliptical fashion, ‘four-petaled red lotus at the base of the body’ we are supposed to understand ‘The yogī ought to visualize a four-petaled lotus . . .”
The specific goal can be optimal physical health, energetic balance, mental/emotional stability, or spiritual transformation. This context provides a blueprint for working with the energy of each chakra.
The word Muladhara is loosely translated as “base of support.” It’s location in the body is described in various ways:
- Between the perineum and the pelvic bone
- Between the genitals and the anus
- Coccygeal plexus beneath the sacrum
- Base of the coccyx (tailbone)
However, if we accept the purpose of the chakras as prescriptive not descriptive, then location becomes a suggestion of where our base of support can be sensed or felt. The energy of this chakra is related to the qualities of safety, security, survival, and the earth element. This chakra is generally associated with the eliminatory system, bones, legs feet, coccyx and the adrenals. An example of language that sharpens this association is the phrase “stand your ground.”
Feeling at home in your body and in your own skin can be an indication that this energy is balanced. Feeling disconnected, stressed, and fearful can be an indication of the need to restore a sense of safety and security to enable you to stand your ground. This points to the connection with the adrenal glands, which mediate our stress response (see About Stress: Acute Versus Chronic). When we work with the energy of this chakra, our goal is to remain strong within our own process while interacting appropriately with others and our environment.
Some physical and psychological issues that may challenge our ability to keep this energy in balance are:
- Chronic lower back pain
I’ve had personal experience with both constipation (see Yoga for Occasional Constipation) and hemorrhoids. I’ve used my growing self-awareness to notice that these conditions occur most often when I’m feeling disconnected, blocked, stuck, and dealing with financial insecurity, difficult relationships, or car problems. My yoga practice is always there to help me through.
Here are three of my favorite practices for Muladhara chakra. See if they help you feel more safe, secure, and connected to your internal strength and wholeness. Although the focus is on Muladhara chakra, all the others are affected because everything is connected (I like rhyming words). You can also do these three practices together. I find myself smiling when I do.
1. Physical Practice: Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)
Joseph LePage recommends standing poses, such as Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana), and Warrior 1 and 2. Warrior 1 is my asana of choice because I am able to keep my pelvis, spine, and head in a more comfortable alignment. You’ll find instructions, modifications, and illustrations at Featured Pose: Warrior 1) and in the book Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being. I practice with my hands on my hips to impart a deeper sense of resilience, strength, and grounding. Start with a 30 second hold and work up to 2 – 3 minutes per side.
2. Energy Practice: Adhi Mudra
The Sanskrit word “adhi” means primordial and refers to our natural state of being. The Adhi Mudra is said to bring the breath to the base of the body, help with anxiety, and instill a deep sense of grounding and stillness.
1. Sit with your spine comfortably aligned.
2. Soften your chest and shoulders.
3. Close your eyes or keep them slightly open and gaze down at the floor.
4. With both hands, form soft fists by placing your thumbs across your palms and folding your fingers around your thumbs.
5. Rest your hands, knuckles down, on your knees or thighs.
6. Hold the mudra and sit quietly for 2 – 5 minutes, as long as you are comfortable.
7. Focus on your natural breathing process.
8. When you are ready to come out, release the mudra and stretch your body in any way that your body needs to stretch.
In Mudras for Healing and Transformation, LePage, states that Adhi mudra should be practiced with caution if you have low blood pressure. I have low blood pressure but am able to practice Adhi mudra regularly with no problems.
3. Mental Practice: Roots Visualization
I learned this Roots Visualization years ago from a yoga buddy. I use it to stand my ground in stressful situations instead of giving in to my first impulse to flee or freeze. I also practice it when I’m alone and feeling spacey and ungrounded.
1. If possible, take off your shoes, connect your bare feet to the ground, and close your eyes. If you find yourself in a place or time where you cannot take off your shoes or close your eyes, direct your attention to your legs and feet to sense a deeper to the earth underneath you.
2. Begin to visualize roots growing from your body, starting from the base of the spine. Feel roots reaching down through your legs through the bottoms of your feet to pierce through the earth’s crust.
3. Visualize your roots branching and spreading, growing stronger, and reaching deeper into the earth. Sense the strength, support, and the stability that your branching roots send back to fill your entire body.
4. With each inhalation, begin to draw in strength, support, and stability and allow that feeling to deepen your connection to the physical world and your place in it.
5. Draw these qualities through the bones of your feet and legs to the base of your spine and all the way up to the crown of your head. Feel your entire body safe, secure, stable, and connected to the physical world, allowing you to stand your ground and speak your truth.
As you do this you may feel some tingling or pulsing in your feet and legs. That’s a good thing because energy flows where intention goes. You can shorten or lengthen the visualization as needed. When you attune yourself physically, energetically, and mentally to your need in the moment, you can stand your ground assertively, appropriately, and confidently.
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