Exploring the Chakras: The Root – Muladhara Chakra
By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP, CAADC
By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP, CAADC
The muladhara chakra, also known as the root chakra, is the first chakra in the well-known seven chakra system. This ancient chakra system originated out of deep tantric yoga practices, and yoga practitioners use this system as a way to cleanse the subtle energy body and awaken to a higher state of consciousness.
By understanding the muladhara chakra in greater depth, you can begin the beautiful process of cleansing, clearing, and awakening this subtle body center. So, let’s dive in!
The word muladhara is pronounced as “moola-dhara” or “mūlādhāra” and means “root of existence” in Sanskrit. Breaking this word down further, the word “mula” means root, and “dhara” means flux.
This beautiful linguistic imagery conveys the philosophical yoga belief that the world is constantly changing, flowing, and impermanent, but this flowing energy of life is also at the root of existence. We are a small piece of this vast universe, a microcosm of the macrocosm.
The muladhara chakra has profound energetic significance as the foundation for all of the other chakras. See below for a brief summary of the primary details of the root chakra:
Physical Location: Near the base of the spine or tailbone and beneath the sacrum
Seed Sound: Lam ( लं )
Mudra: Gyan Mudra
Organs: Adrenal glands, colon, and kidneys
Symbol: Four-petaled lotus flower
Stone: Garnet, Red Jasper, Carnelian, or Bloodstone
The root chakra first develops between the time of conception through the age of 7. During this crucial developmental period, you are beginning to form the foundation of your understanding of the world and an internalized sense of safety and trust. This chakra forms the first connection between the physical body and the energy body, creating a bridge to move from the material to the spiritual.
Additionally, the muladhara chakra is associated with the adrenal glands, which control the regulation of stress, the fight-or-flight response, and feelings of safety. When someone experiences trauma or dysregulation during this early phase of life, this can significantly impact the muladhara chakra.
Since the muladhara chakra is the first chakra in the seven-chakra system, it is also the seat of kundalini or the potent energy that leads to awakening as it travels up the chakras to the crown of the head. In traditional tantric yoga, the muladhara chakra is also the seat of the red bindu or the subtle drop of energy that unites with the white bindu in the head. This union of these two energies represents the union of the feminine and masculine energies of Shakti and Shiva that ultimately leads to liberation or moksha.
As the foundation of the energy body, the root chakra also represents the foundation of our mental and emotional wellbeing. Our basic needs are for survival and safety, and when you get these needs met, you can feel greater stability within the muladhara chakra. Part of the process of balancing the root chakra is improving your physical health, understanding your innate wholeness, and cultivating a felt sense of safety, security, and self-sufficiency.
Likewise, when you lose safety or security in life, this can lead to feelings of instability, fear, and anxiety. In the development of the muladhara chakra, this is also where we develop trust, both of others and of ourselves.
The first step to healing is recognizing when you are imbalanced in the first place. When we accept that there is an imbalance present, then we can begin to take steps to shift these energies and heal from within.
See below for the primary signs that your muladhara chakra is out of balance:
• Anxiety, stress, PTSD, or depression
• Fatigue or lethargy
• Difficulty taking actions in life or feeling stuck
• Feeling disconnected from yourself or others
• Distractibility or difficulty concentrating
• Restlessness or impatience
• Focus on material matters or greed
• Fears around safety, security, or your basic needs
• Digestive issues
• Chronic stress or adrenal fatigue
• Health issues in the kidneys or bladder
• Lower back pain
• Reproductive issues
• Rapid weight gain or weight loss
• Pelvic pain
• Eating disorders
Do you notice any of these signs or symptoms in your own life? Remember that chakra healing is an ongoing process, and nearly everyone has some level of imbalance, so this is not a value judgment on who you are or your worth as a person. But now that you have gained this awareness, you can move to the next important step: the beautiful healing journey!
Since the root chakra is the foundation of the subtle energy body and the entire chakra system, it is essential to create stability and strength in this chakra center. An excellent way to deepen this feeling of grounding is through yoga poses that stimulate the tailbone or pelvis and involve rooting down towards the ground to build strength. Additionally, any poses that activate the mula banda or “root lock” are excellent for this chakra.
• Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
• Adept Pose (Siddhasana)
• Tree Pose (Vrkshasasna)
• Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Garland Pose (Malasana)
• Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
• Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
• Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
• Wind-Releasing Pose (Pavanmuktasana)
The chakras are part of the subtle energy body, so in order to begin shifting these subtle energies, this requires subtle practices. Meditation is perhaps the most subtle practice in yoga that has a profound impact on overall healing. For the muladhara chakra, the best meditation techniques are again those that focus on grounding, connecting with your roots, or connecting with nature.
Some examples of excellent meditation practices for the muladhara chakra include mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation (Lam), walking meditation, affirmations, or crystal healing meditation. Additionally, visualization practices that focus on the root chakra, the color red, or nature can be highly potent.
Prana is the vital life force energy that permeates all of existence. In yoga, the primary practice for influencing the flow of prana is pranayama or breathing practices. Some of the best pranayama practices for the muladhara chakra are ujjayi pranayama, nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing, the 3-part breath, and diaphragmatic breathing.
Prana can also be built up internally by eating prana nourishing foods. Prana nourishing foods are primarily fresh, warm, nourishing, organic, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and proteins. Essentially, these foods are very similar to a vegetarian whole-food diet. It is also important to match your diet with your Ayurvedic constitution to support your unique needs.
A primary belief in yoga is that everything is vibration or spanda. Spanda is the subtle pulsation of the universe, and this pulsation is within each of us as well. The primary method of tuning into this pulsating energy for healing is through mantras, affirmations, and healing sound frequencies. The muladhara chakra vibrates at the solfeggio sound frequency of 396 hertz, so listening to healing music or Tibetan singing bowls at this frequency can be profoundly healing.
There are also some potent mantras and affirmations that can be wonderfully healing for the root chakra. See below for the top mantras and affirmations for the muladhara chakra:
• Gayatri Mantra
• Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
• I am strong and stable.
• I am safe and secure.
• I am grounded and connected.
The development of the muladhara chakra occurs during the developmental period between birth and the age of seven. During this time of life, it is common for many people to experience hidden traumas that they may not even be aware of later in life. Inner child healing work is an essential process to connecting with the core wounds within the root chakra and opening this internal healing center.
Some ways that you can begin the process of inner child healing with the muladhara chakra are through visualization meditations, journaling, and connecting with your childlike innocence. It is important not to judge yourself during this process and allow any emotions, actions, thoughts, or inner states to arise, greeting them with love, acceptance, and deep compassion for your inner child.
Yoga is more than just a physical practice; it is a way of being in the world. And a primary component of understanding these subtler states of yoga is through the chakra system.
The muladhara chakra is complex and a profoundly beautiful tool for healing. So, join us in one of our upcoming online 200 hour or 300 hour yoga teacher trainings to dive deeper into the chakra system and discover how you can incorporate these healing practices in your own life and guide others through this beautiful journey as well.
Be sure to learn about the root chakra, sacral chakra, solar plexus chakra, heart chakra, throat chakra, third eye chakra and crown chakra.