When I think about roots, I think of a solid home base. A place or feeling of safety, and of belonging: knowing your way around the house in the dark. Being rooted means living solid in the body; truly inhabiting. It means BEING.
The root chakra calls for the present moment
My son was in a play recently (he’s a star!) and afterwards, we parents are literally rushing the stage to get the perfect pics of our darlings, and we are all only looking at them through our phones. It’s this mass of humanity, not experiencing what they are experiencing (me included, elbowing in to get the shot).
Later, scrolling through the pictures, I notice that my sweet boy is looking at me in ALL of them. Through big clumps of people. This is my 8th grader who blows me off ALL THE TIME (in his sweet William way). He’s just busy living his newfound “own life”. We expect this with our teens. I’m OK!
What I forgot is that I DO still matter to this kid, like a whole lot, and I had an opportunity to lock eyes with him, to silently congratulate his singing, his dancing, his solo, his comic relief – his AMAZING job that he worked so hard for, and was so brave to do. But we didn’t connect then because I was paying attention to the phone to get the pics for the later me. Or for posterity or whatever. I missed it. Shoot. Sorry, Willer!
Come On Home
Arriving to this moment is not easy – we don’t naturally do it. We’re used to scanning for predators or for people who are in the way of our perfect pic (“over here, darling”). In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about piggybacking something you want to do (a NEW habit) onto a habit that is already in place. For example, when we are cooking or cleaning, maybe we could join the NOW (new habit) by doing some breath work or singing mantras (or show tunes – I think they count, too). Any repetitive task that we already have to do can be an opportunity to, as Thich Naht Hanh said, come home to the present moment (in whatever way works).
The root chakra is the first chakra, and it is at the base of our spine. It is the true foundation of the physical structure of the body, and of everything we are. The support system. The location of this chakra (between the anus and genitals) signifies its role as a link between the physical world and our internal energetic system.
The root chakra is our basic, primal need for survival, stability, and support, and represents the structure of our body, bones, flesh, and skin. It’s really the nitty gritty of the thing.
When this “Muladhara Chakra” is balanced, we feel stable, confident, energetic (sprightly but not spazzy), and strong. When the root chakra is open, we are grounded, stable, and confident. But a blocked or imbalanced root chakra makes us feel insecure, anxious, and stressed. We lose our bearings, and get lost and scared. Where is mum?
Root Chakra = Elimination
The root chakra works to remove toxins from the body. It is the center of apana prana, which is the vital force responsible for all the elimination functions. The energies of the root chakra help in recognizing our strong connection to the earth. Staying rooted to our inner self spreads positivity and happiness, out like a wave.
ALSO: Our fears are stored here. Our habits and addictions originate here. So if we can work on our root chakra, we are journeying towards becoming less fearful and breaking addictive patterns (help with this in a minute).
Associated with the root chakra:
Symbol: Lotus flower with four petals
Governs: Acceptance, confidence, survival, security, safety, feeling grounded, self-preservation, patience, stability
Shadow Emotions: Resentment, rigidity
Musical Note: C
Type of Music: Drumming
Essential Oils: Cinnamon, garlic, sandalwood
Balancing the Root Chakra creates a solid foundation for opening all the other six chakras. They say that you can’t really open or unblock other chakras if you don’t start with the root.
Signs & Symptoms of a Blocked Root Chakra
How do we know if we are blocked down there? What’s happening in my perineum!? Let’s look at both the emotional and physical signs of a blocked root chakra.
Emotional Symptoms of a Blocked Root Chakra
Food, water, shelter, and survival are our primary needs (recall Maslow’s hierarchy). The main focus of the root chakra is to get these needs met. Overeating, hoarding material things, and greed for money are a few expressions of a root chakra that is unsure if it’s going to live to see another day (my root chakra thinks I’m a goner, evidently).
When our basic survival needs are not met, our root chakra becomes dysfunctional and causes a disconnection from our “earthly values”. As a result, people with a root chakra blockage or imbalance tend to experience a range of negative crap-ola, some of which include:
- Hoarder house!
- Greed for money or materialism (never enough-ness)
- Lack of ambition and direction
- Insecurity (also never-enough-ness)
- Disconnection and isolation
- Self pity (oof)
Physical Symptoms of a Blocked Root Chakra
When the Muladhara Chakra is blocked and imbalanced, it can cause stress that shows up physically. The physical symptoms of a blocked root chakra are:
- Panic attacks or anxiety
- Digestive disorders: (after my mom died, I couldn’t go for a run without knowing where several bathrooms were along my route.)
- Issues in the colon, bladder, and lower back
- Unexplained aches and pains in the lower abdomen and pelvis
- Reproductive issues
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
Get flexible, release fear, allow change
I get so thrown off by change. Sometimes other people’s (aka my husband’s) spontaneity drives me BONKERS! I like to make a plan and stick to it – HOW BORING!
Maya Fiennes says that the first chakra is about losing our rigidity and learning to be more flexible.
Fear is normal, and we can never vanquish it completely, because we are all at least a little bit scared to die. So fear is a part of this humanity thing. But we can learn to live with it, and not let it rule us.
We all have some degree of fear of the unknown. If we try something new, we might fail spectacularly. If we go somewhere different, we might get lost (well, I guess not with our handy phones). Figuratively lost, at least.
But this fear keeps us stagnant. We stay at a job that sucks our soul dry, we keep a toxic friend around, we keep the same hairstyle for years and years (and years). When we can overcome this fear and take a leap, we might end up happier (or we might end up with a terrible haircut, but then we may learn that terrible haircuts, and even terrible break-ups are, in fact, survivable).
Being spontaneous is also extremely fun! It all relates to being in the flow of life and pivoting when the moment calls for it.
Don’t miss out -take a chance on yourself.
Root Chakra Healing: How to Unblock & Balance the Root Chakra
The Root Chakra is believed to be a survival center, making it the most instinctual of all the chakras. Stabilizing the foundation of the body makes us feel complete/enough as we are.
Below please find a root chakra meditation, root chakra affirmations (love a good affirmation), ten yoga poses for your root, a meditation for addiction and fear, and a couple of kundalini exercises for the ‘ol root, too.
Root Chakra Meditation
Practice this grounding meditation to clear and re-align the root chakra:
- Find a comfortable seated position, spine long and shoulders relaxed.
- Close your eyes and take slow, natural breaths.
- Bring your focus inwards, towards the Muladhara Chakra (between anus and genitals!)
- Chant the seed mantra for the Root Chakra – ‘Lam’.
- Continue to chant for several minutes, focusing energy in the base of your spine.
- Once unblocked, rub your palms together and place them over your eyes.
Root Chakra Affirmations: recently I have been telling my four year-old: “you belong here”.
If these affirmations don’t resonate, make up your own! Original affirmations usually work best anyway.
- I feel safe and secure.
- I have deep roots.
- I accept myself as I am.
- I belong wherever I am.
- I trust in the goodness of life.
- I am grounded.
- I have found my peace.
- I love myself and I take care of my well-being.
- I am open to all possibilities.
- The earth provides a safe place for me.
- I have abundance in my life.
- I love my body and trust its wisdom.
- I trust the universe to support me.
Root Chakra Yogi
- Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
- Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)
- Child’s Pose (Shashankasana)
- Bridge Pose (Ardha Setu Bandhasana)
- Easy Monkey Pose (Sukha Hanumanasana)
- Squat Pose (Malasana)
- Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
- Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
- Tree Pose (Vrkshasana)
- Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Meditation for Healing Addictions
(also for releasing fear and breaking habits)
This meditation can be found in both Maya Fiennes’s book (Yoga for Real Life), and in a book called Meditation as Medicine by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD. I think both authors site this one because it’s a monster of effectiveness. Khalsa states that in the future, this meditation will be known by all of society because it’s so insanely effective (he didn’t put it that way).
I have addictive tendencies around some things, and when I do this meditation regularly, I truly don’t even think about doing the things I struggle with. This miracle takes place after only a few days of doing this meditation for 5-7 minutes.
Fiennes says: “do this every day for 40 days and you will be transformed”. What has happened to me is that I stop doing it, usually at around the 2 week mark, because I think I am cured from wanting to do the things, and then after awhile the things creep back. It works so well that I stop doing it! I am fully aware that this is ridiculous, and I’m also not saying that I think one has to do this every day forever. Maybe do the 40 days and see what’s up.
The Meditation: on paper it seems complicated but when you do it, you see it is actually very simple. Here is a video demonstrating the meditation, otherwise, see below for instructions.
Sit cross-legged in easy pose (cross-legged, back straight, shoulders relaxed – I strongly recommend using a bolster unless you are super flexible and can sit comfortably with your knees lower than your hips). Make sure the lowest six vertebrae are pushed forward.
Close your eyes and focus up and in to the third eye (between the eyebrows). Make fists with both hands, with extended thumbs. Press your thumbs firmly on your temples. Lock your back molars together, keeping your lips closed. Keeping your teeth pressed together, squeeze your back teeth (the molars) tightly. The mantra is “Sa ta na ma” and you say it silently as you vibrate your jaw muscles by alternating the pressure on your molars. Start with 5-7 minutes but you can build to 20-31 minutes (it’s really specific).
Dr. Khalsa states that the pressure exerted by the thumbs triggers a “rhythmic reflex current” into the central brain, near the pineal gland. It is said that it is imbalance in this area that makes both mental and physical addictions unbreakable. This meditation corrects the issue/imbalance. The mantra represents the cycle of creation. Sa means infinity, Ta means life, Na means death, and Ma means rebirth.
Full disclosure: this meditation is simple but HARD. I have trouble keeping my arms raised up like this for the whole time. And my jaw sometimes gets sore. Just take breaks and trust the process.
Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD
Kundalini exercises for the root chakra
Moving crow pose
Sit down into a squat, feet apart (malasana, although Kundalini calls it crow). Extend your arms in front of you and clasp your hands with the index fingers pointed straight ahead. Inhale through the nose as you rise up into a standing position, keeping your arms parallel to the ground. Exhale through the nose and come back down into a squat. On the inhale, as you rise up, mentally recite the mantra “sat”, and when you exhale, mentally recite “nam” (this means “truth is my name”). Repeat at least seven times, building up to 26 times. If this is tough, you can lean against a wall and lurch around a bit until you build up strength for it. It’s totally hard.
Squat on your toes, heels raised off the ground and touching each other, legs out to the sides like a frog. With eyes closed, place your hands on the ground and focus your attention at the third eye, rolling your eyes up and in between the eyebrows. Breathe in and straighten your legs, raising your buttocks, hands staying on the ground. Your heels stay off the ground. Breath out and return to the squat. Do it at least seven times and build up to 26. Build up speed as you can.
Ordinary Becomes Sacred
Attempting to nap today, I felt an intense longing for what I had been doing just one hour prior (splash park with Ray). While AT the splash park, I had been eagerly anticipating nap – nay, I WENT to splash park SO THAT WE COULD NAP. Stop it.
When we can root right here, right now, ordinary things become extraordinary. Seeing our friend light up when we enter a room, connecting with a stranger in the grocery store, sharing a giggle. Enjoying that splash park with a little dude.
Coming to the present seems to open up time a little bit, too. As in, you get more of it. Suddenly you are THERE, living your beautiful life. And usually, right now, we are doing OK. We are safe. Becoming present helps the anxiety for the future fade a little bit.
As blockages in the root chakra clear, we start to feel more confident (and less scared). We can start to love ourselves AS IS (like the Ani DiFranco song). From there we start to accept everything and everyone as is, too.