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Thoughts from Vintage Yoga...

Muladhara (moo-la-dar-a) The Root Chakra

Updated: Mar 31

Before we begin our exploration of the root chakra, I’d like to build a picture in your mind to help you envision the chakra system and where the “root chakra” is located.

In nature, imagine a tree. Its foundation is the root system which branches off from a central trunk. Also branching from that trunk are the limbs of the tree. This system of roots and branches provides stability and nourishment to the tree.

Similarly, a river has a main source or branch which continuously branches out into smaller streams, brooks, and tributaries carrying water to surrounding areas.

Within the human body there is our nervous system which begins in the brain and runs through the body via a network of nerves which branch off from the spinal cord at various points along the spine. The nervous system, as you know, carries important information from the body to the brain and from the brain to the body.

The chakra system, like the nervous system, runs through our bodies along the spine. However, this network of pathways is not visible like the nerves in our nervous system. Interestingly, the bundles of energy in each chakra (which most agree there are seven main chakras) gather at the same points as the ganglia in our spinal cord. Ganglia are clusters of nerves that branch off from the spinal cord, sending nerve endings to specific parts of the body. These areas align with the areas of the body affected by the chakra system.

So, we begin our journey at the "root chakra" or Muladhara (moo-la-dar-a). In Sanskrit the word “Mula” means root and “adhara” means foundation. This energy center, located at the base of the spine is often considered the “first chakra.” Being the “root,” Muladhara is the foundation that connects us to the earth or keeps us grounded. It is associated with the element of the Earth.

The root chakra is formed beginning in the womb and throughout the first year of life. This is a time when we are most vulnerable. Developing a stable foundation is important at this stage. Having our basic human needs for survival, such as the need for nourishment, sleep, love, and a sense of feeling safe and provided for, is vital to connecting with our physical body.

This is the period of life when we develop the capacity to trust people, which brings to mind a story I heard many times growing up. When I was an infant, my mom left my sister and me home alone with my dad one day. As the story goes, Dad took a nap on the couch with my sister while I was asleep in my crib. When he awoke from his nap, he found me in the crib covered in the contents of the diaper that had needed to be changed. __It was everywhere! On the wall, on the crib and all over me! Having a very weak stomach for this kind of thing, my dad snatched me out of the crib with one arm. He took me to the bathroom, put me in the tub and turned on the shower. He was heaving the entire time.

Of course I don't remember this event but with the knowledge I have now, I can see how it could have been the catalyst for a rocky start as a human being. Being traumatized at such an early age is certain to have made an impact on my life going forward. I don’t blame my dad; he did the best he knew to do as a new parent.

Now that I am beginning to understand energy centers in the body, I can see how this early experience could have impacted my capacity to trust. Perhaps this event affected the development of my foundational root chakra.

It is believed that if a child is not raised in an atmosphere that is safe and where they are well provided for, the foundation of their being can be affected. Without proper development of Muladhara we can become emotionally disconnected from our bodies causing us to experience fear and lack of trust, a sense of not belonging, or being distracted or absent minded.

The root chakra is associated with solidity, therefore, when it is disrupted or out of balance, one may experience overeating, excessive weight, and digestive issues related to elimination. One may also experience sciatica, degenerative arthritis, or knee problems; each of these being related to one’s connection to the earth or the ability to “stand on your own two feet.”

Muladhara is also associated with the adrenal glands. Because a primary function of the root chakra is safety and security, our adrenal glands are stimulated whenever we are in danger or sense danger. In modern society, there seems to be a tendency to thrive on stress and drama, which causes our body to go into defense mode. In fact, some of us wear our stress like a badge of honor. However, when we are running in this over-stimulated mode for too long, in addition to over-taxing our adrenal glands we are also disrupting the energy flow in the first chakra, resulting in some of the issues described above as well as disruption of the other chakras.

It’s useful to know the colors associated with each chakra because colors can create a visual way to stimulate energy within each chakra. So, for example, exposing yourself to the color red, the color of the root chakra, can help move energy in the first chakra. Sound can stimulate the chakras too, which is why chanting is part of the Kundalini yoga experience.

You can also stimulate the first chakra by eating foods high in protein and spending time outdoors (think Earth element). And, since sense of smell is also associated with the root chakra, and spring is just around the corner, get out there and enjoy all the smells of springtime! (weather permitting of course!)

Next week I will share with you a yoga sequence designed to help stimulate your root chakra. Until then, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions. I’m just learning, but if you have any questions, I will do my best to find an answer.

As always With Love & Gratitude,

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