The first of the chakras from the main system of seven is: Muladhara chakra. Shown on the right, the root chakra, has four petals bearing the Sanskrit letters va, scha, sha and sa. The seed sound in the center is lam. The tattwa of Earth is shown as a yellow square.
Meaning: Literal translation, root
Location: Base of spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, large intestine
Main issues & goals: Survival, grounding, nourishment, trust, health, home, family, prosperity, appropriate boundaries
Basic rights: To be here and have
A balanced first chakra looks like: enjoying good health and vitality; well grounded; comfortable in body; feelings of safety, security and trust; ability to relax; and a right to livelihood, stability and prosperity.
So how do you feel about your body?
I know for a lot of my life, I was disconnected from my body, and sometimes still am. Whether you have experienced your body as too much, too fat, too thin, not pretty, not healthy, etc; you have experienced a disconnect from your body. I am “skinny.” I have been underweight since the day I was born. Some of you might be thinking, “Lucky!” Unfortunately, I was body-shamed, just like every other preteen. Jokes like, “Natalie, turn side-ways – oh my gosh – where did you go?” or earning the nickname “Twiggy” when I didn’t know who she was. Or the many doctor appointments being drilled about what I ate and how often. Whether it’s “skinny” or “fat” there is an obsession with what the body ‘should’ look like. There seems to be a “right” way to eat, to exercise, to sleep, etc. I learned to rely on what others thought about my body so I started “hiding” in my clothes. I wore clothes that were baggy and stayed away from anything form-fitting (being a teen in the 1990’s made it easy). When we become disconnected from our bodies, it creates unbalanced issues, for example, pain or disease.
Dis-ease or pain
I had this underlying belief: I can only be cared for if I am sick. My younger brother and I are 18 months apart, he was born with a heart condition that required immediate hospitalization and eventually open heart surgery. This was the early 1980’s and open heart surgery on children was a new field. From a young age, I watched my brother get a lot of attention and presents and prayers. Obviously, from the adult perspective, I realize that he really needed all that attention; but from my 2-year-old perspective I internalized that I needed to be sick to be important. Subsequently, I had a lot of colds and regularly got the flu around Christmas break, without the attention. I remember being excited to have my tonsils out because that was surgery, at a hospital, just like my brother and that meant special attention and presents.
My continued disconnect manifested into depression and anxiety. For me, depression is a numbness; I lose my appetite and only want to sleep but can’t. I get a fuzziness in my head. I can’t make decision or “see” clearly, I call it my “cloud.” When it’s “cloudy,” I don’t like my thoughts. I don’t like how I feel. I don’t like ME. The “cloud” still comes and goes, presently. Healing is a process and I am still in the midst of that process. Fortunately, the “cloud” comes less often and doesn’t stay as long. Anxiety presents when I think I need to “just get over” being depressed but feeling stuck on how to do it. It can become a vicious cycle. So what do I do about it and what does it have to do with the First Chakra?
It begins to come together
It was when I was persuaded to attend a gentle yoga class for stress relief, that my journey for healing and understanding began. Within a year of my first class, I signed up for yoga teacher training because I wanted to understand yoga better, so I could have that tool in my belt to care for myself. It was through yoga teacher training that I was introduced to a whole new world!! The world of meditation, chakras and energy. I am forever grateful.
I have used yoga, therapy (talk and behavioral), journaling, medication (now supplements), and different meditation techniques (from guided to mantra to breath) to manage my bouts of depression and anxiety. I’ve realized that my depression is strongest when I’m focusing too much on the past, anxiety overwhelms me when I am overly-worried about the future. It’s coming back to the present moment, the here and now, through meditation and conscious effort, that I am able to stay grounded. I might not always feel bliss-happiness but I’m learning contentment is a good place to be.
Traumas or abuses create deficiencies or excesses in each chakra resulting in physical malfunctions. I won’t list all the traumas, abuses, deficiencies, excesses here, that’s not my purpose. From my stories above, the imbalances I experienced are: disconnection from body, underweight, poor focus (depression), poor & rigid boundaries, fear of change (anxiety) and addicted to security.
The goal, then, is to keep the first chakra in balance despite all of the outward influences to enjoy the benefits listed above.
Overcoming fear and reclaiming our roots is how we heal the root chakra.
“Fear engages our survival instincts by getting us ready to respond. To work through fear is to learn to relax and feel the subtle energies of the body, to have pleasure.”
(Judith, p. 60)
I had learned to fear what the doctor was going to say, or attention I got about my looks. I feared the uncomfortable feelings surrounding rejection. I feared never having enough money for the things I wanted, feared getting my hopes up for something nice and not getting them. To over come fear, I need faith. My understanding of faith has always been a religious one, “believing in things not seen,” however, I like this explanation from Eastern Body Western Mind. “Fear is a belief that something awful might happen, while faith is a belief that something good will happen. Although the results are different, the causes are the same-both are beliefs that govern our behavior and influence the way we feel” (Judith, p. 61).
It’s an ongoing practice for me to replace my fear with faith, negative thoughts with positive actions, clearing out underlying negative beliefs. Yoga was the first step in overcoming fear of my body, learning to feel and be with the sensations, pleasant and unpleasant, and how to work through it. (See this post: click here) Currently, replacing negative thoughts with positives actions is my goal to aid my healing of chakra 1. (See this post: click here)
Yoga poses to strengthen and ground
Yoga has helped not only regain a connection to myself but also to others, and to Mother earth. It sounds hippy-ish but the First Chakra deals with earth and our connection to her. There are many foundation yoga poses that connect us to the ground and symbolic meaning energetically and emotionally. An easy, yet important yoga pose to feel that connection is Tadasana, or mountain pose. A strong balancing pose to practice is Tree Pose and focus on the imagery of being all parts of a tree. (Post coming soon) The Warrior poses (I, II, and III) are another option for grounding and connecting, creating strength and stability in the legs. (Post coming soon)
Other sources I have used
My journey has lead me to many different sources for healing and reconnecting to my body and showing up in life. Carol Tuttle and her energy profiling system has helped me understand how I move through the world and how to love and appreciate my body. I have learned how to dress my truth so that I feel beautiful and comfortable in the way I dress and show up in life. Yoga has helped me build strength and flexibility in my body and I am now able to share that gift with others when I teach classes. I continue to learn different meditation techniques: transcendental, breath, energy clearing with Christie Marie Sheldon, and others through Mindvalley Academy.
What do do now?
I cannot possibly give you all the information available for healing in one blog post. I am still learning. Let’s do these few steps together.
- Create an ‘altar.’ It could be a collage on your wall, it could be a literal altar, it could be a journal entry you keep private. I invite you to download this document (here) and color it red because red is the color for the root chakra. Be creative on how you color it and place it in your altar space. The symbol is the symbol for the first chakra. You could keep red flowers on your table for a week or wear something red more often. The intention of the ‘altar’ is to remind you of the first chakra and your goals (see remaining steps).
- Find a way to connect to the earth. Maybe you take a walk every day, work in a garden, start recycling, watch the sunset or sunrise, or volunteer for a clean-up.
- Decide on ONE thing you can change now to nourish your body. Ask your body what it needs/wants, not your mind. Your body knows what it needs. Maybe that means one less soda a day, drinking a smoothie for breakfast instead of coffee/tea, taking a yoga class (or practicing the poses I listed above), or going to bed earlier, etc.
- Pamper or pleasure yourself. Maybe you get a massage, take a gentle yoga class, take a long warm bath, spend a night with loved ones, or indulge in your favorite hobby.
- Meditate/pray daily. Whatever that looks like for you. Maybe you use a mantra (LAM is for the First Chakra, see more about Chakra mantras here). You could also just sit and breath.
- Practice repeating some or all of these affirmations daily. “It is safe for me to be here.” “The earth supports my and meets my needs.” “I’m here and I’m real.” “I love my body and trust its wisdom.”
- Finally, share. Share your experience in your journal (I’m a big believer in writing it down), comment on this post (I would love to hear from you), a letter to a friend, or on your social media account. You choose.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Judith, Anodea. Eastern Body Western Mind. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 2004.