According to ancient Hindu and Ayurvedic philosophy, the root chakra, or muladhara chakra, is the first energy center of the seven major chakras that climb up the spine to culminate at the space directly above the crown of the head – the space of the Divine. The muladhara chakra is symbolized by a red lotus flower bearing four petals. This root chakra is located at the base of the spine and it is associated with our survival instincts and our sense of safety and security. It is linked to our primal “fight or flight” reaction system. As the first of the seven major chakras, this energy center is also our connection to the earth, our center of grounding. 

This “root” is the seat of Kundalini energy. It is said that dormant Kundalini energy rests in this chakra waiting to be awakened and activated. The Kundalini energy is a primal energy, or Shakti, that when awoken, can travel up the whole spine activating each energy center on its path, culminating at the crown chakra above the head. Awakening and harnessing this Kundalini energy is said to draw the practitioner into a state of enlightenment. 

Those with a strong open and activate root chakra tend to be balanced, healthy and grounded. People in tune with this base of their being tend to be less fearful and more aligned and centered. Those with closed and inactive root chakras are typically more fearful, off-center, disconnected and anxious. Opening and awakening the root chakra allows us to harness our own courage and tap into our resourcefulness. With its connection to survival, the root chakra also gives us the will to continue living, even in the most trying of times. Muladhara is associated with grounding down to earth and balancing and stimulating this chakra creates both grounding and balance of the body and mind. 

There are many yoga poses that are excellent stimulants to awaken and activate this very important energy center. Standing postures that root you down into the earth or balancing postures that center you are great awakeners of the muladhara chakra. Sitting postures that also ground you help to activate and awaken this center at the base of the spine. Here are two basic yogic asanas that draw your awareness to the root chakra to stimulate and awaken this center:

  1. Mountain Pose – the most foundational of all yogic postures. Tadasana, or mountain pose, is the basis of all the physical yoga practice. Begin by standing up tall at the top of your mat. You have the option to either bring the feet to touch or stand with them hip-distance apart. Spread all ten toes widely to create a large surface area connecting to the mat – a strong foundation for your posture. Spread your weight equally into all four corners of the feet. Press down firmly against the floor to feel your connection with the Earth. Find the grounding benefits as you root down. Lift up on your kneecaps to feel an activation of your thighs/quadriceps. Allow your tailbone to naturally curl down toward the floor removing any excessive “sway” from your lower back. Engage through your core by drawing the navel center back toward the spine. Relax your shoulders down away from your ears and allow your arms to hang naturally toward the floor. Try your best to stack your ears directly over your shoulders, directly over your hips, directly over your feet. Feel the extension of your spine as you imagine yourself growing taller in your own body. Feel the strength, power, balance and grounding of this asana. 
  1. Tree Pose – a classic balance posture. Vrksasana, or tree pose, is one of the foundational balance postures of the yoga practice. Begin in your mountain pose. Look forward in front of you and focus your eyes onto one point (your drishti/focal point). Keep your eyes focused in this one spot the whole time – this will help immensely with balance. Slowly begin to shift your weight into the left leg. Rise up high onto the ball of your right foot. Draw your palms to meet at your heart. When you feel steady, inhale to slowly begin to lift your right foot off of the floor. As you exhale, externally rotate at your hip joint to turn your knee toward the right side of your mat. You have the option to place your foot onto your calf or onto your inner thigh. You can place it anywhere except on the knee joint. Once you find that place, press your right foot firmly against the left leg and, using the same force of energy, press your left leg firmly against the right foot. Let those forces balance each other. If you feel steady, you can extend your arms toward the sky or maybe even lift your gaze up, as well. If you feel a bit wobbly, you can always use a wall or a chair to support you. Hold for a few long, steady, deep breaths and then release and switch sides. Practice patience, always. Feel the steadiness, grounding and balance of this posture as you focus on the base, root of your spine.   

The root chakra is a key center to find stability, grounding and balance in life. Practice these simple yoga postures daily, and watch how your first chakra will open and flourish.

Beyond working just physically, you can open and awaken this root center through the power of meditation, as well. Focus your attention and energy toward this space at the base of the spine, located directly at the perineum. Drawing your attention toward this center, you can envision the red lotus flower with four petals as you send your breath toward the muladhara and back up the whole spine again. Simply bringing your awareness to this seat of Kundalini can help to awaken this center.

Whatever methods you may choose to activate your root, simply drawing your attention and focus to this first chakra is important to create balance through the whole subtle body. Feeling grounded and at one with the earth is crucial to a healthy and active muladhara chakra. Begin working with this base chakra, setting your foundation, to later work toward awakening and activating all of the seven major chakras, culminating in the awakening of your Kundalini energy, reaching enlightenment or Samadhi.