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First Chakra: Root

Road to Wellness

By Diane Utaski · August 4th, 2004 · The Road to Wellness
This column is part of a series to help understand the chakra system, the seven energy centers in the body. An overview of each was described in a previous column (issue of July 21-27), which can be viewed on citybeat.com or cincyoga.com.

Sanskrit Name: Muladhara

Location: Base of spine, centered in the space between the rectum and the reproductive organs. This being our "base," it governs our ability to be grounded and connected to the earth. This includes physical body support of legs, bones, feet, tailbone and large intestine, where we purge the body of wastes.

When Balanced: This chakra attends to our security and survival needs. We feel safe, take good care of physical cleanliness, stand up for ourselves and move toward prosperity. Our physical bodies are strong, receptive and senses are alert.

When Unbalanced: The effect is depression, grief, fear, self-indulgence and centeredness. Our bodily dysfunctions are chronic lower back pain, varicose veins, rectal tumors/cancer, prostrate problems, constipation, sciatica, hemorrhoids and immune disorders.

Many life issues literally "pull up our roots" such as traveling, big changes in our families, jobs or finances.

Our lower bodies begin to tense with fear and mistrust of the unknown. We lose our ability to trust the earth and our bodies to support our security and survival.

Yoga postures are therapeutic to helping balance and maintain healthy chakra functioning. The poses that benefit the first chakra are ones that bring movement and energy into the blocked area at our roots. Focus is on the feet and the lower pelvis.

Here's an easy one to practice anywhere:

Stand with your feet directly under your hip bones (barefoot is best, but during the day with your shoes on works, too). Feel all your toes, ball joints and entire heel pressing into the floor. Imagine you're standing on cool clean grass and you can feel yourself sinking into the cool strong earth. Stay here for five breaths, concentrating on breathing in and out through the bottoms of your feet. Enjoy feeling planted and safe.

Now bend your right knee and lift your right heel, keeping the left foot flat. Then switch, bending the left knee and lifting the left heel, keeping the right foot flat. Go slow and breathe steadily. Feel your ability to stay calm and patient while moving but still staying in one place. If you like, you can use one of the following to help enhance your experience while you are standing still or walking in place.

Color: Red. Visualize this shade and its slow vibration under your feet.

Sound: Lam (rhymes with hum). Repeat this over and over, drawing out the letter "m."

Mantra: "I exist". Repeat this over and over, slowly and mindfully.

Ask DIANE UTASKI a question by e-mailing her at diane@cincyoga.com. If your question is chosen, win a free yoga class at the Cincinnati Yoga School.


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