Muladhara - The Root Chakra
The word Muladhara is a combination of two Sanskrit words: ‘Mula’, which means ‘root’ and ‘Adhara’, which means ‘support’ or ‘base’. This chakra relates to our familial roots, our parents, our background and how we grew up.
The colour of Muladhara is red and it has the qualities of masculine energy, as it drives our physical sexual energy, dominance and ambition. This is the energy centre that governs the earth within us, all that is solid in our life.
Location and Connection to the Physical Body
Centred at the perineum and the base of the spine, Muladhara governs the spinal column, lower back, legs, feet and the process of elimination.
Energy Connection to the Emotional/Mental Body
Representing our physical and emotional grounding, Muladhara is tending to our survival instinct, our desire for safety and security, and our basic needs, such as food and shelter. Also associated with Muladhara are emotional needs and functions, such as family loyalty, and our beliefs and values.
When these needs for safety, security and belonging are met, we are feeling confident in our own skin, and the root chakra is balanced. We will feel grounded, and have a sense of contentment and inner peace, as well as more compassion and patience towards ourselves and those around us.
Circumstances that pull up our roots and cause a first chakra deficiency include traveling, frequent relocations, or big changes in the family. Severe trauma, such as having parents getting a divorce when we are very young, can cause emotional and mental stress, feeling unsafe, perhaps even unloved. These strong emotions can cause such stagnation in the root chakra that it could affect us for years and even for the rest of our life.
Negative thoughts and fears around money, business and your security will also unbalance this chakra. Due to stress in any layer of the body, energy can slow down or go into overdrive. Symptoms of deficiency include being withdrawn, anxious, fearful and lacking commitment and organisation. On the other hand, signs of excessiveness in the first chakra include greed, hoarding of possessions or money, obesity and resistance to change.
How can yoga help?
To help with grounding, we can begin by focusing on the feet, because all the poses that stretch and strengthen the legs and feet will help the first chakra. Things like rolling the tennis ball underneath one foot and then the other, pressing into it to help awaken the soles, stimulating the toes and encouraging them to spread for standing poses, curling the toes under, and sitting on them for a minute, are all beneficial to facilitate grounding.
Following these gentle exercises, we can shift focus to standing poses to help open and strengthen the lower body, and root us to the earth. Hamstring stretches are also very helpful, because when our hamstrings are tight, the contraction creates a sense that we are constantly prepared to run away. As we slowly stretch the backs of the legs in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose), we will experience some of the gifts of the first chakra: calmness, patience, and a willingness to slow down and stay in one place.
Finally, some peaceful restorative poses, like Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), Salamba Savasana (Supported Corpse Pose), and Salamba Balasana (Supported Child's Pose), can help settle an overactive mind and encourage us to surrender to gravity.