Chakra 1 – Root Chakra (muladhara)

In our previous post we went through a brief overview of the chakra system.  The chakras are the seven wheels of energy that start at the base of our spine and move up and beyond the crown of our head.  Imbalances and blockages of energy in the chakras can result in physical and emotional suffering.  Each chakra is associated with specific physical and emotional aspects of our being based on their location in the body. 

Learning about the chakra system can help us find ways to identify which of our chakras might be blocked, and to implement healing remedies.  If you missed our overview post, check it out here!  Over the next seven weeks, we’ll go through the seven chakras individually and learn about the attributes of each.  This week we’ll be learning about the chakra one, otherwise known as the root chakra, or muladhara in Sanskrit.  We’ll continue to reference a book by Anodea Judith called Eastern Body, Western Mind, available here

Attributes of the Root Chakra

The root chakra, or muladhara, is located at the base of our spine.  It is associated with the color red, and the Earth element.  The root chakra is concerned with our physical being and survival.  It is the chakra that provides us with a sense of grounding, trust in the Universe, and our “right” to be here.  

In Judith’s book, she says that the root chakra is developed somewhere between the 2nd trimester of pregnancy and twelve months.  It is responsible for our overall sense of safety in the world and our trust of others.  For this reason, first chakra development is almost completely the responsibility of our caretakers. 

When we’re born, we have no idea what’s going on, no idea what to expect, and we’re unsure if we’re safe outside of the womb.  We look to our caretakers to assure us that we’re safe and will be taken care of, and for direction on how to view the outside world. 

If we grew up in a caring, nurturing home where we were fed when we were hungry and held when we were crying, we develop a balanced flow of energy in this chakra and as a result, experience feelings of grounding and safety.  If we were neglected or abused, the energy in the root chakra can become blocked and leave us feeling anxious, worried, and unsure of ourselves and our place in the world. 

The root chakra is foundational and affects the flow of energy in the remaining six chakras.  This is because our root chakra is all about survival.  It develops at that early, vulnerable stage of life and provides the foundation upon which our worldview exists

The root chakra is foundational and affects the flow of energy in the remaining six chakras.  This is because our root chakra is all about survival.  It develops at that early, vulnerable stage of life and provides the foundation upon which our worldview exists.  Judith says:

“The underlying element of consciousness that forms this foundation is the instinct to survive.  This instinct is archaic, fundamental, and unavoidable and runs the baseline maintenance program of our physical existence. 

When satisfied, it retreats to a dronelike subroutine, allowing our consciousness to engage in other activities.  When threatened, it dominates all other functions of consciousness.”

She goes on to say that the demon of this chakra is fear.  When we don’t develop a healthy sense of safety in the world, we question the safety of not only our surroundings, but our own thoughts, desires, beliefs, etc.  This fear then provides the baseline that all our systems operate on.

 

Things that Affect Root Chakra Development

Judith suggests that first chakra development can begin in the womb and continue to develop during the first year after birth.  This is the time when we experience our introduction to existence.  Whatever our experience is during this time will shape the way we view the world, other people, and ourselves. 

Neglect and abuse are obvious events that affect this crucial stage of our development, but there are other more subtle things like emotional neglect and inherited trauma that can also affect the root chakra.  Judith lists a few more examples here:

  • Birth trauma
  • Abandonment
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Nurture deprivation

The root chakra is about survival, and at this early stage in our life that’s really all we know.  If our basic needs are met and our experiences are healthy and positive, we feel safe.  If we aren’t sure if we’re going to go to sleep hungry, we question our basic right to be alive.  If our cries are met with angry faces and chastising words, we begin to think of our emotions as invalid. 

When we are born, our mothers, or early caretaker/s, are our Universe.  They provide for our physical and emotional needs.  They show us what to be afraid of, what to like, what to avoid.  As we get older, we develop some of our own views, but it’s during this stage of development that the foundation is laid.  Any type of trauma, inconsistency, or deprivation will cause imprints in our worldview and sense of self.  

At the root of first chakra imbalance is fear.  When our baseline introduction to the world showed us that we are unsafe or unworthy, we carry this belief into the rest of our life experiences and even in the way we hold our bodies.

How to Know if Your Root Chakra is Blocked

At the root of first chakra imbalance is fear.  When our baseline introduction to the world showed us that we are unsafe or unworthy, we carry this belief into the rest of our life experiences and even in the way we hold our bodies. 

Sensing danger causes chemical reactions in our bodies known as the fight or flight response.  The fight or flight response is great when we’re in actual danger, but when we operate regularly in this fear-based state it becomes a hindrance in our daily lives and can also contribute to both physical and mental suffering. 

A person with an imbalanced first chakra might experience frequent anxiety, or chronic shoulder pain from subconsciously contracting their muscles.  Here are a few more things root chakra imbalance can cause:

  • Low self-worth/self-esteem
  • Lack of a sense of purpose
  • Questioning your place in the Universe
  • A feeling of inferiority to others
  • Tendency to contract various muscle regions of the body

Yoga Poses for the Root Chakra

Although we may not have been responsible for the development of our root chakra, we have the power to heal it.  If you feel like your first chakra might be in need of some alignment, there are so many things you can do, either yourself or with a healer, that can stimulate the positive flow of energy.  You can find a chakra balancing guided meditation on YouTube, or research how to incorporate the energy of crystals in your chakra healing process. 

You can also practice yoga.  Yoga stimulates the energy flow in your body and focuses specifically on the spine, the ‘home’ of our chakras.  We can use specific poses to release blockages in the chakra we’ve identified as deficient.  If you think that might be your root chakra, check out the poses below that will help restore energetic balance in that area:

Extended child’s pose (prasarita balasana)

To do extended child’s, start in tabletop.  From here, widen the knees a few inches and bring big toes to touch.  Keep your hands where they are and push yourself back so your bottom rests on or above the back of your shins.  Rest your forehead on the ground and focus on your breath, taking big inhales into your belly, and relaxing into the pose on your exhale. 

Chair pose (utkatasana)

To do chair pose, start standing up straight.  Bend at the knees and sit back as if you were about to sit on a chair you’re not quite sure is really there.  When you reach a level you’re comfortable with, extend your arms straight up in front of you, in line with your spine.  Imagine a line of red energy extending from the base of your spine all the way through your fingertips. 

Garland pose (malasana)

To do garland pose, start standing straight up and bring the feet about mat-width apart.  Bring hands to heart center/prayer, and bend at the knees, bringing your bottom down as far as you comfortably can while still keeping your feet relatively flat on the floor.  Tuck your elbows into the crooks of your knees; and focus on straightening and lengthening the spine as you inhale and exhale. 

At Inspiring Actions, we aim to quiet the mind and learn about ourselves.  It is from this place of awareness that we can start to implement healing practices to improve the quality of our lives.  Our studios in River Falls and Hudson, Wisconsin, as well as online, offer a diverse array of classes to stimulate the proper flow of energy in our bodies.  And you don’t have to be an experienced yogi!  We have classes for every level; check out our full list of classes here

If you’re just jumping in and you haven’t read our Into to the Seven Chakras, check it out here!  Next week we’ll learn about the second chakra, the sacral chakra or svadhishthana. 

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