In the system of yoga, there is an understanding of seven main energy wheels that run along the spinal column. Each of these chakras has different aspects of how we relate to the world. If the chakras are blocked or too open, we experience this on a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual level.
The Muladhara, or Root, chakra is the first chakra and located at the base of the spine. It’s associated with our sense of safety, survival and self-acceptance. All of our most basic survival needs such as food and shelter are associated with the Muladhara chakra, along with more intangible needs such as a sense of security or abandonment.
No chakra works alone
Often when one chakra is blocked or too open, problems can manifested in another chakra.
Here’s an example:
Susan grew up with an alcoholic father who couldn’t hold a job. The family moved often as her parents tried to evade bill collectors and manage their lives. Although she never went truly hungry, Susan’s sense of security was shaky nonetheless. When her dad did have a job, she learned not to trust that it would last.
Trust is one of the attributes of the Heart chakra. Because Susan often felt insecure growing up, she found it difficult to trust others.
Physically, if you don’t feel safe, your autonomic nervous system is triggered. This part of the nervous system is responsible for controlling such bodily functions as your breath, heartbeat and digestive processes. It’s your fight or flight response.
This can really have a detrimental effect on your mind and body. There have been several studies lately about the effect of stress on children who live in neighborhoods with a lot of gunfire and crime. They show the signs of PTSD and other trauma.
When our Root Chakra is out of balance
Anodea Judith has written many books on the chakras. In Chakras: Seven Keys to Awakening and Healing the Energy Body, she notes that the “demon” of the Muladhara chakra is fear. She also writes that the Root chakra’s excessive characteristics are heaviness, sluggishness, obesity, hoarding and materialism.
This is interesting in light of the pandemic we’re experiencing right now. Many of us feel fear – fear that we or our families will get sick; fear that we won’t be able to pay our bills if we lost our job due to sheltering in place; fear there won’t be enough of what we need to take care of our families.
Witness the hoarding of toilet paper. Fear is a powerful motivator. It’s hard to trust that all will work out if we’re focused on being afraid.
Another way our Muladhara chakra shows up as being out of balance is when someone is emotionally needy or has low self-esteem. Think of someone you know with these characteristics. They likely don’t have any boundaries. They’re willing to be available to anyone, to try to fill everyone’s needs so they can be accepted and feel loved.
Bringing our Muladhara Chakra back to balance
There are things we can do to bring our Root chakra back into balance. Yoga poses, reciting mantras and mediating can help. The point of connection to the mat in any pose is important, such as our sitting bones in Navasana (Boat pose) but standing poses are especially relevant. If you like working with crystals, try any of the “earthy” sorts of crystals.
We also must be willing to do the psychological work to bring ourselves into wellness. It’s hard work, scary work, but necessary if we’re going to face our fears and feelings of abandonment so we can learn to trust others and love ourselves.
Once our basic needs are met, we can begin to focus on what brings meaning and joy into our lives in the second chakra, Svadhistana.
Muladhara Chakra Snapshot
- Sanskrit name – Muladhara
- Meaning – root, support or foundation
- Location – perineum, the base of spine between anus and genitals
- Symbol – four red petals around a square containing a downward pointing triangle
- Color – Red, lowest vibration
- Seed sound – Lam
- Element – Earth
- Crystal – “earthy” colored stones, for instance, Bloodstone, agate, smoky quartz, tiger’s eye, hematite
- Affirmations – I am taking responsibility for my life. I can cope with any situation. I recognize the abundance of love, trust and care surrounding me.
- Yoga poses – the base of every pose but especially relevant to standing poses