What are the chakras?
In yogic thought, the subtle body is a plane of existence that is distinct from the physical body, and it governs our life force energy, or Prana. As epicenters of that energy, the chakras are a key part of the subtle anatomy.
Whether on the Internet or in-person, you’ve probably seen illustrations depicting the chakra system – even if you didn’t realize it. It’s most often drawn on the silhouette of a person and represented as a series of colored circles that run up the spine from the tailbone to the crown of the head. The circular depiction comes from the meaning of the Sanskrit word “chakra,” which translates to “wheel” or “disk,” and each chakra is associated with one of the seven main colors of the rainbow.
Each of the seven main chakras corresponds to a certain area in the body and the organs located there, as well as to particular traits and components of well-being. When all of the chakras are in balance, the energy within them neither overactive nor underactive, we can enjoy good health and wellness. But often, one or more of the chakras is blocked or otherwise out of alignment, bringing about mental, emotional, or physical discomfort and even pain.
The root chakra
The root chakra is the first of the seven main chakras. It is associated with the color red and is the source of our survival instincts and being in touch with our physical experience of self. The root chakra keeps us grounded and allows us to tap into intelligent and natural instincts to create a life for ourselves that meets all of our needs.
The root is located at the base of the spine, around the tailbone area. This chakra is also called the Muladhara chakra, which translates to “base”, “foundation” or “root support”. While it is most commonly known for its connection with our physical body, the root chakra is also associated with our strength, vitality and safety as well as courage and resourcefulness.
The root chakra relates to the “roots” of our body, particularly the lower digestive system, legs and feet. However, this chakra also governs our finances, career and the way we relate to fear (fight, flight or freeze!), and helps us to build a foundation for our lives that gives us the stability to expand. It’s where our connection to the Earth and our ancestors resides. When the root chakra is balanced and moving smoothly, we feel grounded, safe within our lives and strong in making decisions concerning our career and money as well as in tune with nature.
When energy within this chakra is underactive or overactive, we can become extremely fearful, feel unstable in our lives and paranoid about our financial status and career. We can also become overly greedy and slip into “scarcity mindset” or the idea that there “isn’t enough for everyone”. Those who are experiencing imbalance in the root chakra also frequently notice symptoms such as depression, anxiety and nightmares. Physically, symptoms such as lower back pain, leg and feet issues and bowel issues can occur.
Unblocking the root chakra
There are several asana poses that can help rebalance the root chakra. Among these poses are Malasana or Frog pose, head to knee pose and lotus pose. Focusing on poses that ground your “root” to the Earth, aka sitting poses, are best for bringing this chakra back into alignment.
There is a wide variety of online guided meditations that focus on the root chakra. An easy meditation you can do on your own is to envision a red light glowing at the base of your spine. Focus on this light and visualize it flowing down your legs, out the bottom of your feet and grounding you to the Earth.
Lastly, affirmations can be said (either out loud or in your mind) to help bring your first chakra back into balance. “I am grounded,” “I realize abundance” and, “My needs are always met” are all perfect affirmations to use because they reinforce the strength and courage that our root chakra provides to us.
About the Author
Brooke Kathleen - Also known as the Unicorn Yogi, Brooke began practicing yoga in 2009. She moved to New York City for work in 2013 and her practice faded out due to the inconsistent hours. In 2017 she re-discovered her practice during a very intense and difficult series of events. After devoting herself to practice for another year she realized that she wanted to learn how to share the tools that yoga had given her to heal and grow with others. She found Vikasa online while researching and fell in love with the curriculum and location. The rest is history! New York, USA