Get Grounded with Yoga

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The first chakra in the Hindu system of chakras is muladhara.

Each chakra has symbols or other representations which carry meaning relating to the chakra. In this post I will explain my understanding of some of the different aspects of muladhara chakra.

credit to Renee and “chakra desktop – light pink” by nessman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The root chakra animal is the elephant. Elephants are big animals often seen as having great strength. Because they are heavy animals, the force of gravity keeps them rooted to the ground. The first chakra when balanced can help us experience ourselves as more solid, dependable, with a greater ability to persevere.

credit to Renee and “Baby Elephant!” by xrayspx is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Muladhara is located at the base of the spine between the anus and the genitals. Looking at the body, this chakra is the closest of the seven chakras to the ground when we are standing. This is why we often associate this chakra with getting grounded.

Being grounded allows us to have acceptance for the law of nature. This allows us to trust nature and the cycles of nature.

Muladhara chakra motivates our primal needs of survival and security. Our need to stay warm when it’s cold, and our need for shelter, food and water. You could also compare this chakra to the first and second need in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

credit to Renee and “Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Cheops/Khufu), Giza, GG, EGY” by w_lemay is licensed under CC0 1.0

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be represented by a pyramid. The idea is that we cannot achieve our full potential in this life unless we have our needs met. The first need is physiological, the second need is security. If most of the time you feel safe, calm, warm and have food and shelter, then these needs are fulfilled.

Grounding Vinyasa Flow

Try this earth sequence before practicing pranayama. If this is your first time, go slow. Keep your breath slow and smooth. Never push yourself beyond what feels sustainable.

Wind Relieving – Apanasana Sequence

Lie down on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor, as you inhale bend your knees towards your chest and hold your knees with straight arms

Exhale, draw your knees closer to your chest bending the elbows. Focus on contracting the lower abdomen while exhaling.

Repeat 3 times, continue to breathe slowly and smoothly, tying your motion to the breath, when finished bring the feet back to the floor.

Apanasana sequence Illustration by Renee

Supta Indudalasana – Resting Moon Pose Sequence

Lie down in corpse pose – savasana to start.

Inhale raise your arms up over your head to rest on the floor.

Exhale arch you body laterally with the whole body making a banana like shape.

Inhale back to a straight with the arms still over head.

Exhale to the opposite side. Breathe slowly and smoothly, tying your motion to the breath.

Repeat 3 times and then come back to savasana pose to rest.

Supta Indudalasana Illustration by Renee

Jathara Parivrtti (dvipada) Modified – Simple Twist

Lie down knees bent resting on one side of the body and with the arms out in front. While inhaling move the top arm overhead and over to the other side of the body creating a twisted posture. Be mindful, only go as far as you can comfortably go while breathing calmy. Stay in the twisted position inhale and exhale slowly and smoothly three times. Feel a stretch in the side of the body. Exhale and repeat the arching movement with the arm back to the starting position. Rest here, and repeat on the other side.

Simple Twist Illustration by Renee

Full Squat – Utkatasana Sequence

Stand in mountain pose, inhale and bring your arms over head

Exhale and squat as far to the ground as is comfortable.

Inhale and come back to standing with arms over head

Repeat sequence 2 more times, using the breath as your guide. Breathing slow and calm while practicing. Finish with arms by sides, rest in mountain pose.

Forward Fold – Uttanasana Sequence

Stand evenly in mountain pose arms by your side.

Inhale and bring your arms overhead

Exhale, bend your knees and bend forward at the waist, keep your back straight as you lower.

Inhale rise up from the hips, keep the knees bent and the back straight with arms over head, or put hands on hips, which can help to keep the back straight. Repeat 3 times while breathing slowly and calmly .

Forward Fold Illustration by Renee

Tree PoseVrksasana

From mountain pose bring your foot up to rest on the inside of your calf and balance on your other foot. Do not rest your foot against the knee. Bring your hands to a prayer position resting in front of your chest. Breathe calmly and stay in this pose for three slow and smooth cycles of breath. Think of you feet as roots, gathering nurients from the earth. You can use your hand against the wall when you need help balancing in this pose. After completing the first side rest in mountain pose. After completing the other side take a moment to rest in mountain pose.

Tree Pose Illustration by Renee

Trikonasana – Twisting Triangle Pose

Take a wide stance with both legs straight. Inhale extend arms into a T position, feet parallel to each other. While exhaling twist bringing your hand to the opposite foot, work to have length in the back. Repeat 3 times, alternating sides with calm smooth breathing.

Trikonasana – Illustration by Renee

Pranayama for Muladhara

Anuloma Ujjayi

If you are unable to breathe through your nose, this breathing practice is not appropriate for you.

Sit in a chair or on the floor with the back straight. Keep your posture upright to help open space in the lung area. Lengthen the back of the neck and keep the head balanced, chin not jutting forward in space. Inhale slowly and smoothly through the nose, exhale slowly from the left nostril. Inhale again slowly and smoothly through both nostrils, exhale slowly from the right nostril. This practice helps with extending the length of the exhale. Continue this practice for 10 minutes. At the end return to normal breathing and notice any effects or feelings in the mind and body.

Anuloma Ujjayi Illustration by Renee

Root Chakra Affirmation

If you are feeling ungrounded try this root chakra affirmation. Find a quiet space where you will not feel interrupted, allow yourself to be relaxed while alert, breathing calmly. Repeat this affirmation to yourself. “I am a child of the universe, always loved and protected.” Take your time.

Grounding Restorative Yoga Poses

Try these restorative poses for root chakra healing:

Childs Pose
Side Lying Restorative
Legs Up the Wall

If you are looking for a good book on restorative yoga, this one is a classic: Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times by Judith Hanson Lasater.

Food Recommendations

Muladhara is also associated with the dense, solid parts of the body like the teeth, and bones.

Red foods and some earthier starchy foods are often considered as foods helpful to this chakra; these foods can help us to feel calmer. Starchier foods are best if eaten in moderation to bring warmth and comfort: potatoes, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Overeating carbohydrates is an issue for many, as it causes insulin resistance.

To help to strengthen the bones and the teeth these foods are recommended: eggs, meats, and specifically organ meats. The reason that animal foods are so highly recommended is for the bioavailability of the nutrients they contain.

photo by Renee

Root Chakra Archetypes

In her book Chakras and Their Archetypes: Uniting Energy Awareness and Spiritual Growth; Ambika Wauters speaks of different personality types and the chakra system. The book details each chakra and how it relates to our psychology.

In the book she associates the root chakra with two opposing archetypes: a functional one and a dysfunctional one.

The victim is the dysfunctional archetype. If we consume ourselves with all the injustices we face in life, we create more torment for everyone.

The functional archetype of the root chakra is the mother. By loving ourselves like only a mother can, we build the necessary stores to strive in life.

Some of the activities recommended help nurture ourselves when we face these feeling of victimization are:

  • go for a walk
  • dance
  • work-out
  • do yoga, sign up for my mailing list
  • have a massage – a gentle non-intrusive massage
  • go camping
  • do some gardening
“Calendula Flowers” photo by Renee

Remember that inside you is a nurturing mother, there to soothe you when you are going through difficult times.

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