Tonight was the first night of my chakra-themed Thursday night classes at SYNCStudio South. (Here’s a nice article from The Chopra Center that explains what a chakra is and some basics of yoga energetics. And here’s the playlist I made for class.) We kept the movement simple but focused, working within the framework of [The Basics], and explored asana (poses), visualization, and meditation in order to bring balance to muladhara–or root–chakra. The root chakra represents the most dense and material aspects of our being–our ability to survive and thrive on the planet, our stability, and basic physical needs (e.g., shelter, food, work). The importance of a balanced root chakra cannot be overstated. You may remember Abraham Maslow’s heirarchy of needs from a basic psychology course (if not, here’s a refresher). A balanced root chakra roughly corresponds to having met the first two rungs of Maslow’s pyramid–physiological and safety needs. These needs must be fulfilled before we can move on to more spiritual work. Physically located at the base of the spine, this energetic center’s element is Earth. There are a number of other symbols and correlations associated with each chakra. For muladhara, these include the following.
- Color : red
- Sense : smell
- Bija mantra (seed sound) : lam (pronounced “lum”, rhymes with rum and gum)
- Guna : tamas
- Animals : elephant, ox, bull
An asana practice for muladhara chakra balancing includes poses that help us feel our connection to the earth. Grounding poses that require strength in the legs, feet, and pelvic floor are helpful. These include standing postures such as warrior II, extended side angle, and wide-legged forward bend, balancing postures such as tree, fully supported poses such as child’s pose, and close-to-the-earth postures such as garland pose.
During your practice of these postures, bring your awareness to the foundation of the pose first (usually the feet), and make sure you feel steady. If not, make some adjustment to your stance that encourages more steadiness. Experiment with the length and width of your stance in the warrior poses and side angle to find your ideal alignment for maximum stability. Energize your feet and legs. Imagine that you could pull energy up from the earth through your feet and send it back down. When seated, imagine roots connecting your seat with the earth. From the stability of your legs and pelvis, lengthen your spine and feel lightness and freedom in your upper body.
After your asana practice, enjoy a long savasana (ten to fifteen minutes is ideal). You might choose a very grounding resting shape such as viparita karani (legs-up-the-wall). Before letting go completely, really feel your body’s connection with the earth. Acknowledge the support of the ground beneath you and consciously relax into that support.
Post-asana, spend some time in seated meditation. Let your breath be relaxed and steady. Silently repeat the bija mantra “lam” as you focus your awareness in the area of the pelvic floor and base of the spine. Visualize the color red.
Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System, Anodea Judith
“A Beginner’s Guide to the Chakras,” Yoga Journal
If you’re able, join us next Thursday at 5:45 p.m. for Svadhisthana Chakra | Creativity! Send me any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.