As we move into May, we’re starting to transition into Summer. The transition into a new season can sometimes be unsettling even though it may not be completely obvious to us. The energetic body is constantly trying to bring balance into the body. That’s why it can be nice to help the body out by having a grounded yoga practice. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the transitioning of seasons relates to the earth element is the mother element of nourishment and comfort. You can learn more about the Earth Element here.
The Earth element is associated with the first chakra Muladhara or root chakra, (mula meaning root and adhara means support) and it’s the root chakra that we will focus on this month. The root chakra connects to our sense of survival and security, the basic need for food, shelter and safety as well as our emotional need for connection. A strong healthy root chakra is believed to develop in our early years up to the age of seven. If all our basic needs were met and we grew up in a loving, nurturing home we tend to have a greater sense of security and a more balanced root chakra however it’s not the only factor but it helps.
“There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it” Elizabeth A Behnke
As mentioned in last month’s post about the Chakra’s and the elements the first 3 Chakra’s are related to our physical earthly body and the root chakra is most instinctual of them, it’s connected to the fight, flight or freeze response.
Signs That The Root Chakra is Out of Balance
When the Muladhara is balanced we can feel stable, secure, full of energy and have strong healthy relationships. Therefore when the root chakra is out of balance very often we feel ungrounded, lack energy and find it hard to focus. If there is an excess or an overactivity in the first chakra we can lean towards greed and hoarding. You may even unwillingly try to make yourself feel more grounded by over eating. You may worry constantly or become more inflexible and non accommodating to others, therefore losing a sense of emotional connection.
How Can We Help The Root Chakra Stay Balanced
The root chakra is located at the base of the spine near the tailbone – so it is closely linked to the pelvic floor (in yoga the Mula Bandha lock uses the pelvic floor muscles), the legs and the feet. Therefore grounding yoga poses can be very helpful for grounding our energy and feeling the physicality of our earthly bodies can be very helpful. Yoga poses for the root chakra.
- Most standing asanas (poses)
- Tadasana (Mountain)
- Malasana (Yogi Squat or Garland Pose)
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- Virabhasana I & II (Warrior Poses I & II)
- Balasana (Childs Pose)
- Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Wide Legged Forward Fold)
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Janu Sirasana (Head to Knee Pose)
- Sukasana (Easy Seated Pose)
The last two, along with other seated poses help to soothe an overactive root chakra.
Mediation is also a wonderful way to ground energy by focusing on weight of the legs and hips being supported by the floor and maintaining an awareness of the breath. You can even visualize a red ball of energy softly glowing at the base of the spine imagining it as being really grounding and stabilizing. You could include mantras like:
- I am
- Lam (Bija Seed for Muladhara)
- I am safe
- I am calm and centred
- May the energy of the earth restore my vitality
- I am secure
- I am grounded
The colour associated with the root chakra is Red so wearing red is believed to be helpful especially red socks or shoes. Eating red foods like red apples, raspberries, beetroots, strawberries, watermelon among any other red foods you can think of can help to nourish the energy of Muladhara.
May’s Pose of the Month
Eka Pada Uktasana – One Foot Fierce Pose
Aka: Standing figure four or Ardha Uktasana (Half Chair Pose)
I have chosen this pose to help support the root chakra because of the saying “Without roots we cannot fly” and to me standing figure four represents that. There needs be a great sense of grounding and balance in the standing leg in order for us to stay in this posture and at the same time open our arms like wings or I even like to imagine that I am pushing away any of the mind chatter or worry so I can tune into the instinctual wisdom of the body.
Mental and Emotional Benefits
- Helps to improve concentration
- Can help you to build trust and security
- Improves balance
- Stretches outer hips and glutes
- Strengthens legs
- Build core strength
- Improves ankle strength
- Helps to prepare you for arm balances like Eka Pada Galavasana (flying pigeon pose)
- Can be helpful for runners and swimmers
- May help to ease mild back pain
Cautions and Contraindications
- Injury to knee or ankle
- Be mindful if you have sciatica – Although the supine version can be helpful for sciatica, the standing version many put to much pressure on the muscles around the sciatic nerve on the standing leg.
- Be mindful during pregnancy – due to the greater risk of falling you could practice facing a wall. Also if you are suffer form groin pain or SI joint pain on the sacrum, one leg postures can aggravate these conditions further so it’s just not worth it.
Hints and Tips
- Think hips back and knee in line with toes.
- If you feel knee pain in this pose check that your hips are sitting back and the knee isn’t going to far forward past the toes.
- Hug your hips in the direction of the lifted leg – your hips will want to go in the direction of the standing leg however this can lead to internal rotation of the knee which can cause discomfort and also on the lower back.
- If you experience discomfort in the lower back make sure your core is engaged by lifting the lower belly away from the thighs and check hips are hugging back and in.