Chakras: we’ve all heard of them, but what exactly are they? Well, chakras are known as wheels of energy along our spines. We have seven of these energy wheels, beginning at the base of our spine and reaching up to the crown of our head. Kundalini yoga teaches us that when each of these wheels is spinning, our energy can fully rise through our bodies and lead us to self-actualization, our optimal self.
Think of chakras like wheels on a car if one of those wheels has a flat tire, it’s rotation will become bumpy and difficult until it shuts down completely, preventing you from moving forward to your destination. If we care for our chakras to ensure they’re ‘spinning’ properly like we do with the tires on our cars, we’ll have a smooth journey towards achieving our best self.
To keep our chakras happy, we should start at the most basic point: our root chakra, or muladhara. Our root chakra is located at the base of our spine and it’s associated with our most rudimentary needs, like safety, food, and water. Our root chakra has to be satisfied before we can really focus on any of our other chakras, which makes sense if we’re struggling at our very foundation, we can’t expect to successfully address more complex concerns.
So, how can we approach our muladhara? We can start by making sure our root-level requirements are met, which can be confusing since there are varying degrees of satisfaction here. First and foremost, check in with your most basic needs. Do you have shelter, a place where you can sleep at night? Do you have access to sustenance- food and water- to fuel your body every day?
Most of us are fortunate enough to answer ‘yes’ to those questions, but satisfying your root chakra is not quite that simple. You need to feel safe and secure in your shelter, so if your home life is rocky or unsteady, your muladhara will feel out of whack. Ask yourself how you can resolve any issues at home if they exist simply rearranging or de-cluttering can be the solution to creating a more peaceful space. If these problems go deeper, though, you may need to contemplate on a bigger solution, like moving to a new apartment or addressing complicated relationships with others in your home.
Muladhara’s relationship with food and water is similar. You may have access to water, but are you drinking the right amount? On average, humans should drink 8 glasses of water a day, so ask yourself how you can make that happen. Setting reminders on your phone or in your planner can help, or even try carrying a half-gallon bottle of water with the goal of finishing it by the end of the day. Careful, though too much water can throw off your balance just as much as dehydration can.
Think about your food intake, too are you eating the right amount, and is it nutritious enough to sustain you? Weight gain, weight loss, and even eating disorders can occur when muladhara isn’t functioning like it should. Check in with your diet to make sure it’s both adequate and healthy and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family members, or health professionals for advice if you’re unsure if your eating habits meet your needs.
Once we’ve checked in with ourselves on how we address these basic needs for survival, we can use yoga to keep oiling our root chakra wheel. Yoga goes hand-in-hand with chakra alignment, and there are a few poses that target your root chakra specifically. Try malasana, or yogi squat pose, to start: spread your feet out wider than hips distance apart. Then, drop your hips down into a squat (your heels can be lifted or on the ground, whichever feels more comfortable), engage your core, and lift through the crown of your head.
Breathe here, focusing your energy and breath towards the base of your spine. Anjaneyasana, or crescent lunge pose, also helps to open your root chakra. In your lunge, keep your core and quad muscles engaged for an active pose, and stay tall through your spine. Once again, keep your breath and your mind focused on the base of your spine.
We can add some different techniques to these yoga poses for an even deeper focus on our root chakra. Muladhara is associated with the color red, so bring something red with you to your yoga practice like a red mat, scarf, or mala beads or, close your eyes and envision the color red. Mula bhanda is a bind that targets our root chakra it’s essentially a kegel exercise (yes, gentlemen, you can take this bind, too!), and you can take mula bhanda as you hold your yoga poses (or any time, really!).
Finally, we can add in our voices. Each chakra has a sound, or a chant, associated with it. For muladhara, it’s “Lam,” pronounced like “Tom” but with an L. Use it like a repetitive mantra as you focus on muladhara, exaggerating the sound and dragging out the word into a slow “laaaaaaaaaaaaaam,” noticing the soothing vibration of your throat as you focus your energy on your root chakra.
Self-care starts at our roots, and our chakras help us rise through this concept. Plug into yourself and explore the foundation you’ve set. Make sure your most basic needs for health, safety, and security are not only met, but treated with care. Once muladhara is satisfied and your root chakra wheel is spinning smoothly, you’ll be able to move onto the next step: your sacral chakra.