THE ROOT CHAKRA (a.k.a. the 1st chakra)
(A Nine Part Series for Beginners - Part 2)
What is a Chakra?
Greetings and blessings to all who read this. This is part two of a nine part series on chakras for beginners. In part one I discussed: nadis, chakras, the torus field and the aura. You can find it here. An excerpt from Part One defines the chakras in the following way: “Where Nadis are the pathways of prana – life force, chakras are the distributor and purifier of the Prana.” (3) Chakras are energy centers throughout the body located at the junction points of nadis. The 7 chakras located along the spine are called the Main Chakras.
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Using Chakras to Create Balance
There is plenty of information in the world about chakras. Learning about them is only the first step. The important part is to put the information into practice. It takes a lot to maintain balance in the chakras. Learning about them is helpful, because when something comes up in your life that needs some attention, you can turn to your chakras to bring healing, balance and integration to any situation.
In this post you will learn how to identify indicators that signal when it might be good time to work with your first chakra and how to go about it. As always, I will include a Resource section at the bottom. The resource section is a tool kit for working with your first chakra. Our energy, breath, and life force must all be flowing in an unimpeded manner in order for us to feel healthy, vital, balanced and integrated. As I mentioned above, it is the chakras that are the purifier and distributor of our life force.
While the ideal state is to have our chakras in balance, often times they can be imbalanced. They can sometimes be overactive and sometimes be underactive. The average human has a lot of stressors. We are often overstimulated by too much doing and interaction - or by too much screen time and too much intake of information. Our bodies are taxed by environmental pollution in our food, water and air. We worry about money, relationships, our loved ones and the state of the world.
On top of these stressors we may suffer from acute or chronic trauma. These traumas can be physical, emotional or sexual. By utilizing visual aids, color, scents, sounds, stones, yoga poses, qi gong forms and even foods, we can engage our five senses to return ourselves to a state of balance by working with the appropriate chakra.
The Meaning of the Root Chakra Symbol
The Color Red
You will find many and varied meanings on why red is associated with the root chakra. The one that makes the most sense to me in the most practical way, is that red stimulates the limbic system. “Limbic system structures are involved in many of our emotions and motivations, particularly those that are related to survival such as fear and anger.” (2) Fear is the emotion that is most closely related to the root chakra as are issues related to survival.
Red is also a color associated with vitality. strength and power as well as action, movement and goals. If the root chakra is overstimulated already, then too much red in one’s life may be too stimulating. If the root chakra is understimulated, incorporating some red into one’s life may be helpful.
The Four Petalled Lotus
Each chakra has its own symbol, called a Yantra in Sanskrit. The yantra of the root chakra (called the muladhara chakra - pronounced mool-ah-da-ra) contains the four petalled lotus. It represents the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) which unite to form the physical world. Each of the petals corresponds to an aspect of the psyche: mind, intellect, consciousness and ego. The four petals also represent the four nadis (subtle body channels) that converge at the first chakra. These four petals connect our physical body to the soul. The petals are red due to the electrical discharges which emit light particles in this region.” (source)
The square represents the earth element and the four cardinal directions, as well as the physical plane and stability. The root chakra is also the realm of the elementals, also known as nature spirits. The Earth is the very foundation of our being providing us with every basic need (food, water and shelter). Remember, the root chakra is about survival and having our basic needs met.
The Seed Syllable
The Sanskrit seed syllable associated with the root chakra is Lam - also called a seed mantra. You can see it in the depiction above , surrounding the triangle. Repetition of seed syllable mantras (Bidja in Sanskrit) is meant to stir and awaken the energy, and activate the vitality and latent power of the corresponding chakra. Each chakra has its own seed mantra or seed syllable. Saying Lam (pronounced Lum’as in “lump”) out loud over and over activates your root chakra and in turn your earth element.
The Downward Pointing Triangle
The downward pointing triangle represents descending energy (a grounding force) as well as the power, energy or force of the feminine principle (also known as Shakti). Shakti is the female aspect of primordial cosmic energy. It is also associated with the Divine Feminine. A downward pointing triangle is associated with yin and the female principle.
“The root chakra geometry represents your connection with the ground, with the Earth. The root chakra is the base of our vital force and where the Kundalini energy lies dormant waiting to rise through the chakras.” (source)
An Introduction to the Root Chakra
“Each chakra has a different frequency and velocity of vibration. Those located closer to the base of the spine operate at lower frequencies, and in turn govern lower states of consciousness. Chakras located near the top of the spine, operate at higher frequencies and govern superior intelligence and subtler states of consciousness. Every chakra has a specific kshetra – a contact point through which it can be aroused – and is related to a specific endocrine gland. The root chakra is our pranic power station, the centre where prana is generated. The awakening of prana commences at the root chakra, and traverses up the spinal cord through an energy channel called pingala nadi.” ( see vocabulary - below) (3)
The first chakra is called Muladhara ( pronounced mool-ah-da-ra). It translates as “ root support”. Mula means basic or root, while dhara means support. It is the foundation of all other chakras. It is also the home of our kundalini (a coil of latent energy located at the base of the spine).
Where is it located?
The Simple answer:
The chakra can be found at the base of the spine, pelvis, and first three vertebrae. It affects the gonad glands, reproductive system, skeletal system, kidneys, urinary system, hips, legs, feet and lower back. In simple terms we associate it with the perineum (the area between the anus and the scrotum or vulva).
The More Technical Answer:
“In men, it is located at the perineum, halfway between the genital organ and the anus, and approximately two centimetres inwards. In women, it is located on the upper side of the cervix, halfway between the vagina and the uterus. In the root chakra, the location and kshetra ( contact point) are the same.”(4)
What is a Kshetra? Each chakra in and of itself is a dimension, and each chakra has a physical and a spiritual dimension. “Chakras have a manifestation in the body. And they also have a subtler manifestation. These manifestations are called kshetras. Kshetra means a place where someone resides. You may be in your office, but your residence is somewhere else. Just like that, there are kshetras that are external ones, called bahya kshetras, and there are internal ones called antar kshetras. There is a home and a holiday home!” (Source)
In chapter 13 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna refers to the body as kshetra (field). Kshetrajna is the one who understands the nature of this field. A person who knows that the body is not the atma is a kshetrajna. He knows that he is the one who owns the body. When we say, “I am a man or a deva,” the ‘I’ is neither a deva nor a man. Deva or man are attributes of the body. The body is an attribute of the self (atma). ‘I’ is the knower and is the atma. ‘I’ is the owner of the body, and is therefore different from the body. If a man says, “I own this house,’ it is clear that he knows the difference between the possessor and that which is possessed. A person who confuses being a deva or a man as referring to his atma is ignorant. (source)
What is it All About & What is it Related to?
“Our ability to carry out daily activities and attain tangible goals is fueled by the root chakra (Muladhara). It serves as your strong base, enabling you to handle any challenges life may bring. The root chakra, which is located at the base of the whole network and affects the basis of all of them, is crucial and linked to all seven chakras.”(5)
It is connected to our basic need for survival, security and connection (to the body, the physical plane, family, loved ones and community - the world).
Ayurvedic Concepts & Lexicon
We have East Indian culture to thank for all of the knowledge pertaining to yoga, the chakras and the whole body of science dedicated to health and the body (known as Ayurveda). The branch of science known as Ayurveda is vast and deserves it’s own post in the future. Nevertheless, it is impossible to introduce the chakras without using Sanskrit words, as we have no comparable words in English (only translations).
For this reason, I have used Sanskrit words in the body of this post, to introduce the reader to the different qualities, aspects, functions and components of the chakras.
What are Guna and Tamas?
A guna, simply put, is a quality of energy (for a more elaborate explanation you can refer to the vocabulary section below). Tamas is the type (one of three) of guna associated with the root chakra (a more elaborate definition can be found in the vocabulary section below). In short, the guna associated with the first chakra is tamas. Tamasic qualities are the obstacles or challenges that we must overcome in order to: access the full potential of the root chakra, and untie the knot of brahma. By so doing we awaken our latent Kundalini and it can begin it’s ascent to the crown. The whole point of this is to awaken different states of consciousness within ourselves and eventually awaken to the true nature of Self ( with a big S). As we awaken the prana within each of the chakras, we are able to access the state of consciousness associated with that chakra.
What is a Kosha?
”Annamaya kosha (“sheath made of food”). This is the physical body, composed of the five elements we ingest (earth, water, air, fire, ether). The human body is made of five sheaths or koshas. This explains why it is the root chakra that is responsible for the biological functions of nourishment and elimination.
In psychological terms, the root chakra is associated with the unconscious mind, where our deep-rooted instincts and fears remain hidden. In the psychological perspective, Muladhara acts as a doorway to higher as well as lower experiences and levels of consciousness. The tanmatra (specific sense modality) of Muladhara is the sense of smell, its gyanendriya (organ of sense perception) is the nose and its karmendriya (organ of action) is the anus (elimination). The root chakra is the home of an energy knot known as Brahma Granthi or the “Knot of Brahma.” This energy knot reflects our attachment to food, shelter, wellness and survival in general. Unless the knot is undone, the energy in Mooladhara remains blocked. The moment the knot is undone Kundalini awakens, significantly increasing our energy levels. In relation to the gunas or the three qualities of nature of all humans, Muladhara is connected to the quality of tamas, which relates to lethargy, dullness and ignorance.
What is Apana Prana?
“Apana Prana” (also known as Apana Vayu), “the air that moves away,” moves downward and outward, governing all forms of elimination and reproduction (which also has a downward movement). It governs the elimination of stool and urine, the expelling of semen, menstrual fluid, and the fetus, and the elimination of carbon dioxide through the breath. On a deeper level, it rules the elimination of negative sensory, emotional, and mental experiences. It is the basis of our immune function.
Balanced or Unbalanced, How Can I Tell?
When the root chakra is out of balance, we may feel insecure, unsafe, and even disconnected from reality. An overactive or an underactive chakra are both signs of imbalance. As a gross example we could say a homeless person might have an underactive root chakra, while a person overly concerned with amassing great wealth or material possessions has an overactive root chakra. Both types of imbalance can be the end result of an unhealed trauma.
Physical signs may include:
lethargy, panic attacks or anxiety, digestive disorders, health problems in the colon, bladder, and lower back, unexplained aches and pains in the body in the lower abdomen and pelvis, reproductive issues, insomnia or excessive sleeping, eating disorders, obesity, inflammation, depression, sluggishness, and disconnected from one's body.
Emotional signs of imbalance: sheer depression, resentment, anxiety, full of frustration, and raged with anger.
Hoarding of material items, Greed for money or materialism, Lack of ambition and direction, Insecurity, Disconnection and isolation, Anxiety, Depression, Self pity, Despair, Excessive worry over basic needs or an inability to provide for oneself, anger, impatience, eating disorders, short temper, belligerence.
Spiritual signs of imbalance: unwillingness to expand a standpoint, stubbornness, and not connected to one's spirit or soul.
Physical signs of balance: Good bodyweight, healthy body organs, healthy blood and tissues, great physical health, full of energy and vitality, and the ability to stay calm and relax.
Emotional signs of balance: strong sense of determination, full of excitement, full of love, a passion for life, an ability to channel anger positively.
Spiritual signs of balance: strength, courage, commitment, passion, love, daring, a sense of belief in others, and trust in the Universe, ability to provide for oneself.
How to Establish a Connection to Your Root Chakra.
There are many ways to establish a connection with your root chakra. One of the most powerful ways is to be in nature. Take your socks and shoes off and walk on the earth, the soil, the sand, or the grass. This does wonders for the body, mind and spirit and has many scientifically traceable positive effects on the physical body. The earth emits negative ions which boosts immunity, calms the central nervous system and relaxes the mind. It also helps us discharge all the emfs we are exposed to through screen time. You can also just sit on the ground. The point is - make contact regularly!
Walking on the ground and getting your hands and feet in the soil also does wonders for your microbiome (the environment of your intestines). The microbiome in the soil ( microorganisms) enhances your own microbiome. This is why the soil your food is grown in is so important, because it directly affects your gut microbiome. Just as the root chakra is the foundation of all other chakras, the microbiome is the foundation of good health - both mental and physical (owing to the gut brain connection).
Anything that has to do with food and shelter is good for connecting to your root. It could be cleaning house (especially while dancing - movement), gardening, preparing food, decorating your home (rearrange, organize and beautify). Creating an altar in your home is another way to connect. Incorporate the elements of earth, fire, water and air. And don’t forget to incorporate the elementals as well. Maybe a picture of a fairy or your favorite nature spirit.
You can use plants, , stones or soil to represent the earth element. Put some water in a special vessel and speak a blessing into it ( change it regularly). A feather is a great representation of air and a candle is a great way to incorporate the fire element. Incense can represent fire and air together. It is also good to put photos of your family, ancestors or loved ones on or above your altar. This reminds you of support, love, community and connection.
You can also use visual aids or art depicting the chakras, such as the symbol above. This helps you to remember what the chakra relates to (i.e. the color, the shape, the symbol, the seed mantra, etc). It is good to meditate on it, contemplate it and commit to memory the meaning of each component of the yantra representing the chakra. It will deepen your connection.
You can also wear carnelian or another stone related to the first chakra, or hold a piece of carnelian in your hand during meditation. Vetiver essential oil is a very grounding smell which balances the root. Copaiba is a great essential oil if you are experiencing fear (especially as it relates to having your basic needs met). I like to use my essential oils in a diffuser, but I also put them on my body. You can put vetiver or copaiba directly on the skin over your pubic bone to correspond to the root chakra.
Repeating the bidja mantra or seed syllable, “Lam” (pronounced lum as in lump) is another way to connect to your root chakra. You can also say the Ganesha mantra. YouTube has great examples of both of these if you want to hear it first. Eating root vegetables and foods that are red can benefit the root chakra as well.
Since the root chakra connects to the senses, it is good to actively engage each sense before you begin meditation. This is called coming into awareness. Take time to look around the room, hears the sounds, smell a scent, ( essential oil or incense), touch/feel something, and taste something (maybe your tea).
These are just a few ideas. You will find many more ideas in the Resource section below. One last thing - it is very important to establish trust. Trust is the grace of the first chakra. Trust in the earth to support you, trust in the universe, trust in yourself and the people that comprise your community (friends, family, loved ones). Do not entertain people who you do not trust - it will deteriorate your sense of stability. Another thing is pride (the negativa or downfall of the first chakra). In other words, teach yourself to ask for help when you need it (put your pride aside).
Do not think you have to travel the path of life alone and figure it out all by yourself (an egoic form of pride). Utilize spirit guides, elders, trusted connections, angels, fairies (whatever your jam), Babaji, Jesus, Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene (whatever you feel a heart connection to). Speak to the earth, air, fire and water. Give them thanks and ask for their help too. You are not alone.
Putting the Pieces Together
In summation, the root chakra is an energy center at the base of our spine that governs our lower states of consciousness including our unconscious mind, our fears and our instincts - especially those of survival. It is our strongest connection to earth - both the element and the physical plane. It is connected to and is the basis of all the other chakras. It is where our latent kundalini lies and also the place where our kundalini awakens.
It has many components, qualities and layers, such as: the kshetra ( physical and spiritual dimension , or home, and also point of contact) the guna or quality (tamas in this case), the kosha or sheath (the aspect of us referred to as the food sheath or physical self), the coil of latent kundalini ( at the base of the spine), the knot of brahma (which awakens the latent energy when untied), and apana prana (air that moves away) which is associated with nourishment and elimination (physical, mental and emotional) as well as procreative secretions. Apana Prana is the basis of our immune function.
Muladhara is developed in the first seven years of life and deals with survival and security needs. Unhealed trauma can create great disturbance in the root chakra. When it is not harmonized, it can be overactive or underactive which can lead to a variety of imbalances from physical and mental to emotional.
There are many things you can do to restore and maintain balance in the root chakra, including: movement, yoga poses, sound, qigong forms, essential oils, toning and mantras (Lam - pronounced Lum, or the Ganesha Mantra - see below) stones, essential oils, frequencies, mudras, and even foods - find what works for you. I have included a tool kit in the Resources section below.
It could be easy to get overwhelmed at the vast amount of information there is pertaining to chakras. It is important not to let that discourage you. Find an area you want to focus on and stick with that until you are ready to move on. Maybe you simply sit and tune into it and feel it in your body. Maybe you begin with yoga poses. Maybe you create an altar and work with that. There are many approaches.
Chakras are a lifelong study. While it is important to understand their components, qualities and aspects, what’s most important is that you connect and relate to them frequently and consistently. I have been interested in chakras for years and touched on them here and there. It is only now that my relationship with them is beginning to deepen. While my chakras may have felt my absence at times, they have also witnessed my lifelong curiosity, interest in, and study of them. They have witnessed my whole life and hold information of my past lives as well. Maybe they know me better than I know them - ha!
I hope you find this information to be useful, inspiring, intriguing and motivating. All you need is truly within, and all you need to do is access and utilize it. If you want to build an intimate connection to yourself, the chakras are your ticket. They will let you know where you excel and where you need refining. They are your gift and your challenge, your guide and your teacher. The question is, are you ready to be a student?
Resources: A Tool Kit for working with the 1st chakra
A Video Discussing The First Chakra at Length
The beauty of this video is that there are many topics discussed which you will not find online or in a book. It really opens up the multifaceted nature of the dimension we call the first chakra. It touches on a lot of information that connects you to the first chakra on a deeper level and in different ways than conventional information may provide.
Basic Tool Kit Links: This one link will lead you to multiple articles on: yoga poses for the root chakra, a root chakra meditation, essential oils for chakras, and stones for the first chakra that promote healing and grounding. You will also find an article on 10 easy ways to balance you first chakra, as well as herbs, mantras and meditations for each chakra. Not to shabby eh? And all in one place with the click of a button! Modern times for all its follies, does have some great benefits as well - thank goodness! You can access your tool kit here.
Basic Tool Kit Article: This article is a tool kit in itself, and it is so good and so thorough, I wish I could say I wrote it. If you wish to learn more about the first chakra, I highly recommend this comprehensive article! You can access it here.
Working With the Chakras to Heal Trauma: Learn more here
“To reduce tamas avoid tamasic foods, oversleeping, overeating, inactivity, passivity and fearful situations. Tamasic foods include heavy meats and foods that are spoiled, chemically treated, processed or refined. For more info read A Yogi’s Practical Guide to Balancing Tamas Guna. (Source)
I feel safe and secure.
I have deep roots.
I am grounded.
I have found my peace.
I trust more, I am fearless.
I have self-love and I take care of my well-being.
I am open to all possibilities.
The earth provides a safe place for me.
I have abundance in my life.
I love my body and trust its wisdom.
I trust the universe to support me. (Source)
Sanskrit Vocabulary as it Relates to the Chakras
Gunas: In the philosophy of Yoga, all matter in the universe arises from the fundamental substrate called Prakriti. From this ethereal Prakriti the three primary gunas (qualities of energy) emerge creating the essential aspects of all nature - energy, matter, and consciousness. These three gunas are tamas (darkness & chaos), rajas (activity & passion), and sattva (beingness & harmony).
Guna is a Sanskrit word which translates as “quality, peculiarity, attribute, or tendency.”A guna is an element of reality that can affect our psychological, emotional and energetic states. The patterns of the interplay of the gunas can define the essential qualities of someone or something, and these patterns can highly influence the path and progress of life. The gunas cannot be separated or removed in oneself but can be consciously acted upon to encourage their increase or decrease.
Nadi: “The nadis are said to be subtle channels that transmit energy through our existence, similar to how our visible veins carry blood via our circulatory system. “ (1) “Nadis are a network of pranic, mental, and spiritual flows that run through the physical body, forming a matrix. They provide energy to every cell and organ in the body through their extensive network, which transports prana in all directions.” (1)
Pingala Nadi:”Pingala – Known for its masculine and heating energy, it flows on the right side ( of the spine) and ends at the right nostril. It is also associated with the energy of the sun.” (1)
Prana: “Prana has many levels of meaning, from the physical breath to the energy of consciousness itself. Prana is not only the basic life-force, it is the original creative power. It is the master form of all energy working at every level of our being. Indeed the entire universe is a manifestation of prana. Even kundalini shakti, the serpent power or inner energy which transforms our consciousness, develops from awakened prana.” (Source)
Kosha: Sheath or layer. There are five sheaths all together, and each of these sheaths has a physical, subtle and causal aspect. (Source)
Annamaya Kosha: anna ( food) maya ( consists of ) ; the physical body or “ food shealth”, one of five layers that veils the true self. It includes the muscles, bones, connective tissue, organs, fat, and skin. (Read more here)
Kundalini: “Kundalini, in terms of our bodies, is the primordial vital energy that rests at the base of our spines. This vital energy is unleashed via a set of practices termed Kundalini Yoga which involves the use of mantras, mudras, body movements, and breathwork.” (source)
Kshetra: A contact point through which a chakra can be aroused. Also the physical and spiritual location/aspect of a chakra.
Tamas: “Tamas is a state of darkness, inertia, inactivity, and materiality. Tamas manifests from ignorance and deludes all beings from their spiritual truths. Other tamasic qualities are laziness, disgust, attachment, depression, helplessness, doubt, guilt, shame, boredom, addiction, hurt, sadness, apathy, confusion, grief, dependency, ignorance.”(more here)