What happens when one doesnít feel grounded? The earth is there under the feet, but there is little connection. Ideas and passions bounce around, and itís hard to feel connected. The root chakra, muladhara, is foundational, providing the energy needed to connect with the earth and vital life energy.
Located at the bottom of the torso, the root chakra is responsible for feeling secure, stable, and attached. When it is open and working well, it is easy to move through emotions; when it is disabled in some way, one feels stuck, anxious, and/or afraid. Physically, problems with the colon or bladder are connected with this chakra, as well as issues with weight gain or loss. Emotionally, this is where childhood trauma is stored.
Traditionally, one uses crystals, color, sound, or asana to work with the chakras. The color associated with muladhara is red; the crystals that help to unblock this chakra include carnelian, red jasper, and garnet. When meditating, one can use the root manta ďLAMĒ to work with Muladhara; one can also use a breathing technique such as bee breath to regulate and/or open this energy center.
Before beginning a vinyasa for Muladhara, itís a good idea to stand in Tadasana or Mountain Pose and practice equal breathing. Count the length of the inhale and the exhale, and move towards making each the same length. While doing so, close the eyes and move the gaze inward, sensing the flow of energy through the body. Focus attention on the soles of the feet and note where the body connects with the earth. What kind of link exists? What changes when the weight of the body shifts to the front of the feet? To the back?
Malasana pose is useful in clearing this chakra. From Tadasana, lower the body into a squat. Depending on oneís flexibility, the feet may or may not be completely settled on the ground. How is the balance different here than in Tadasana? How does the grounding change? From here, tip forward to hands and knees to move into other opening poses or vinyasas.
Trikonasana, or Triangle Pose is another pose that works with this chakra. When in Trikonasana, visualize the energy lines that this asana creates. There are five of them: one stretches from the bottom of the back foot to the core, one from the front foot to the core, one from the top hand to the core, and one from the bottom hand to the core. In addition, there is the line of energy created by the articulation of the spine in this position, beginning once again at the core. Again, how does the balance change when all five of these lines of energy are created at the same time? What happens when this asymmetrical pose is practiced on each side? How does one keep grounded with so much going on in the body?
Of course, there will be times when one feels off-kilter but without access to a yoga mat. Stomping oneís foot or feet can help to open and balance this chakra. The sense organ associated with muladhara is smell, so an even easier way to connect is to focus oneís attention on the tip of the nose. What does the air feel like as it enters and exits the body? Is it possible to follow the breath past the nose through the body to the diaphragm and belly? How does stopping to focus on the breath help to ground and steady the mind?
The great psychologist Maslow believed in a hierarchy of needs, beginning with the need for safety, security, and basic survival needs such as food and shelter, in order for a person to live well. In the world of yoga, muladhara chakra is the energy center that makes stability and peace possible. Working with this chakra is one way to improve oneís life. Whether by use of asana or meditation, connecting with this chakra can lead to a calmer, more grounded day.