Muladhara translates from Sanskrit as the ‘root of existence.’ Mula means root, and adhara means to support. Its location is at the spine’s base at the coccyx.
The root chakra is responsible for our relationship to stability, family, and food. It is the basis for the other six chakras to flourish and correlates to our need for shelter, community, and food.
When balanced in this chakra, we feel connected to the earth, those around us, and ourselves. When we feel out of balance in this chakra, we may feel overwhelmed, agitated, disconnected, and over-excited.
Keep reading to see the root chakra themes, blockages, imbalances, yoga classes, and questions.
We have thousands of chakras in our bodies. The ones we focus on as yogis go up to our main energy channel, Sushumna, the spine, which starts at the pelvis and goes through the middle of the torso to the top of the head.
The seven chakras are located at Sushumna. The first one, Muladhara, is at the base. The second one, Swadhisthana, is just below the belly button. The third one, Manipura, is at the solar plexus, and The fourth one, Anahata at the heart. The fifth one, Vishuddha, goes to the throat. The sixth one, Ajna, is at the third eye center, the middle of the head. And then the seventh one, Sahasrara, is the top, the head, or just above the head, depending upon who you talk to.
It’s said that at the base of our pelvis sits our creative force known as Shakti or Kundalini. This is this dormant creative force that lives inside of the pelvis. As yogis, we want to ignite or awaken that energy to have it rise from the pelvis to our third eye center, where our consciousness lives. When the kundalini energy rises, it’s said that we are awakened or receive enlightenment.
The asanas and pranayamas help to move the stagnant energy that day-to-day life can create in the body. Yoga is a way to clear the stagnant energy by observing the themes and blockages of each chakra and then creating a practice to clear and move the energy.
The body is our initial connection to the earth, and yoga is a tool to shift how we feel. We can always return to the practice- asana, pranayama, or meditation. We might use these as tools to shift states of dis-ease. The practice allows us to return to a place where we are grounded and feel a sense of belonging.
Characteristics of the root chakra include grounding, instinct, boundaries with the self, and new beginnings/fertility. With the activation and balance of the root chakra, we are confident, strong, and grounded.
Red is the color of the root chakra to express the vigor, health, courage, and fervor we need to support our emotional and physical wellbeing. Lam is the bija seed mantra for the root chakra; chanting this word will activate the energy of Muladhara. The element is earth, as this chakra is the initial link to the physical world. The earth gives us a location, a sense of place, and a spot to root. We discover a sense of belonging at the root chakra when it is open and balanced.
The adrenal medulla is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response in the body and releases cortisol and adrenaline.
The main function of the root chakra is survival. Our most basic needs must be met for us to exist on earth.
When the root chakra is open and energy moves freely, we feel calm and centered in thought and action. There is a sense of ease and consistency in what we want to accomplish. We set goals, persist, and execute. We feel connected to the community and the earth.
Insecurities take root as low self-esteem and disordered eating patterns. We are cut off and removed from the people, spaces, and foods that nourish us.
Imbalances at the root chakra could include anxiety, eating disorders, binge eating, panic attacks, overthinking, depression, disconnection from the body, and ideas of unworthiness.
A strong core means strengthening the transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominis, and the pelvic floor muscles.
A weak core may result in lower back pain; low back pain indicates the need to strengthen the core, including supporting the back body muscles known as the erectors. The erector spinae is the group of muscles and tendons that run laterally down the spinal column from the skull base to the sacrum beneath the lower back.
In yoga, we use the definitions sukha and sthira to describe the qualities of a healthy spine. Suka translates as flexibility, suppleness, and ease. Sthira translates as stability and strength. Ideally, these two aspects are balanced within the spine and the individual’s overall posture. Strengthening the core abdominals and erectors creates a corset to support the spine. We’re more prone to injury when we tend to one quality over the other.
Something to watch for in core exercises is that you’re placing strain on the appropriate muscle groups.
A great exercise to perform to activate the core is a bridge pose with a block between the inner thighs or any related core action with a block or rolled-up blanket between the inner thighs.
Engagement of the pelvic floor is a simple activation one may do throughout the day while sitting at a desk or preparing a meal.
The pelvic floor muscles are engaged by hugging the belly button in and up. In yoga, we call this Mula Bandha. Three Bandhas in yoga are used to create energetic locks in the body.
Learn to engage Mula Bandha in a short yoga class—
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When we connect to our root chakra, in terms of the yoga practice, we deal a lot with the legs, connecting to the legs, and feeling the connection to the earth itself.
You will stay low to the ground if you want a more earthbound practice. You would do things that are very leg-heavy and hold the poses for longer.
One of two ways I theme with earth classes is with a lot of standing leg poses and warrior poses. I would include a lot of hip openers. I would have a longer floor series, the lunar part of the class, and I would include a lot of forward folds to invite a space for introspection.
You want to create a feeling of staying low to the ground with the earth element. One of the descriptions of the earth is generally dark and heavy. So those elements are two things that we would bring into this class.
I prefer meditation or putting my legs up against the wall. Putting legs up the wall is very grounding; it gets you into the parasympathetic nervous system. It allows me to arrive.
That’s what I do, usually when I show up in a hotel room or when I’m traveling. Then usually, if I’m fortunate enough to have a bath, I’ll immerse myself in water.
I use my yoga practice now as a tuneup. I’m tuning up parts of my body and therefore tuning up parts of my mind and spirit.
I love Forrest Yoga for the therapeutics that work specifically around the lower back and activating and stretching the psoas, which I think are two things that we don’t pay enough attention to in yoga.
If you’re a member on the site and you’ve done the core work classes, most of that is on Forrest Yoga. One of the things Ana Forrest gets people to do is to create a roll by rolling up a mat or a blanket. The roll is rolled up and placed between the thighs. I sometimes use a block. And the deep core work comes from hugging in at the upper inner thighs around the block.
It’s very subtle work; it’s about the deep core muscles activating, the muscles that I call the stabilizers. If you want your stabilizers to work harder versus your, what I call your movers and shakers, then you need to do smaller movements to activate the stabilizers.
Nadi-shodhana, alternate nostril breathing, is one. Nadi-shodhana balances the hemispheres of the brain as well as the lunar and solar sides of the body.
The other pranayama I would recommend would be bhramari breath or bees breath. I would place my hands on the lower abdomen or hands-on thighs and then hum down into that area.
The last would be a moving meditation, like a Tai Chi movement. You stand with feet shoulder-width apart, inhale hands upwards toward the sky and exhale hands back down toward the ground. I would do this standing to feel my feet on the ground and connect to the stability of the earth.
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