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Understanding The Root Chakra: Grounding Practices for Stability and Strength

Updated: May 15

the back of a woman's head as she stands with arms in the air in a yoga class

I recently started a series of posts demystifying yoga terminology and concepts in an attempt to make yoga more accessible and to break down some of the barriers that prevent people from understanding, and therefore benefiting from, what yoga has to offer. I have started this series with an explanation of the chakras and I would like to continue by going a bit deeper into each chakra, explaining what they represent and suggesting practices that relate to them that you might find useful.

Firstly let’s talk about Muladhara chakra. You might have heard this called the root chakra. It is the lowest chakra physically in your body, it sits around the perineum or the base of your spine. It’s around the area where your body meets the floor or chair when you sit down.

symbol of the root chakra, a red four petalled lotus

This chakra is connected to the earth element and relates to our basic needs of survival and qualities such as stability, strength, safety and support. This chakra is also related to our ability to let things go. It’s colour is red and it is represented by an image of four petalled lotus containing a square with an upside down triangle inside. The sound or mantra for this chakra is LAM.

So how is that useful for you? Well, if you are feeling anxious, depressed, insecure, disconnected from yourself or life or you’re lacking ambition or direction it may be that you could benefit from practices that support muladhara chakra.

Conversely if you are feel secure in yourself, grounded and calm, well connected and safe then there’s a good chance this chakra is well balanced in you.

There’s a number of ways your can work to balance this chakra, maybe one of the most obvious being through physical yoga postures that stimulate this part of your body and your connection to the ground. Postures that are done sitting or laying on the floor can be great, such as seated forward bends, easy pose (sitting cross legged) or child’s pose. When practicing these, bring your focus to the connection between your body and the ground beneath you, feeling this sensation of support

a woman stands in tree pose

Other standing postures that work with muladhara are tree pose (you might visualise that you have roots growing from your feet down into the earth), tadasana/mountain pose (standing with feet firmly grounded) or a squat (you might imagine your breath travelling down through your body to the earth as you exhale).

Heel drops can be a really quick and easy way to reset when you’re feeling stressed or off centre. Breathe in and lift your heels off the ground, maybe raising your arms too. Breathe out and let your heels drop to the earth, bringing your arms down as well. Be mindful of how this feels for you and take it gently if need be.

The breath is also a useful and highly effective tool for shifting how we feel. Try long, soft exhales with a focus on emptying the lungs from the top down. If you’ve been to one of my classes you no doubt will have heard me talk about filling your lungs from the bottom first and I will pretty much always suggest you breathe that way. But the way you exhale can vary depending on your need. If you imagine you are emptying your lungs from the top first and down it can give the sensation of a downward movement of energy which can be really grounding and settling. The opposite of this would be to empty from the bottom up which can be much more uplifting. Maybe give both a go and see if you can feel a difference. IF focusing on your breath makes you feel more stressed then leave this one out for now.

Affirmations or mantras can be really useful in helping us to shift our mindset. You might use these by sitting quietly and repeating one to yourself or maybe you write it down and stick it somewhere you will see it through out your day to help you remember to repeat it. In particular when working on root chakra and the qualities it represents you might try some of the following:

- I am secure and safe in myself

- I trust myself and my body

- I have strong roots

- I am grounded

- I have found peace within me

- I am strong

- The earth provides a safe place for me

- My life is abundant and full

Maybe you can come up with your own phrase that represents the qualities you are trying to move towards.

Another way to balance the root chakra is to spend time outside in nature. Take time to be mindful and quiet in nature, notice the sounds, sights and smells and really feel your feet on the earth. Walking barefoot in grass or on earth can be a wonderful way to feel calmer and more grounded. Research has shown that there are numerous benefits from walking barefoot in nature including feeling calmer, boosting mood and reducing inflammation.

If you have any other things you do to feel grounded I would love for you to share them with me, it’s always lovely to hear from you. And if you would like any support with any of the things I have discussed here then please do get in touch.

Over the next 7 months I will be hosting a monthly candlelit class, each month focusing on a different chakra, starting with the root chakra in May. All the details are here.

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