Beginning on June 6th, I will be leading weekly Chakra Yoga Classes at 8 Limbs Yoga Centers. It seems as though chakra yoga classes are a focus that happens once a month or every once in a while, and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with one chakra over the course of a month for the 4 or 5 classes that occur. It allows us the opportunity to dive deeper into exploring the chakra and to truly find what practices help access and engage that chakra in our own bodies. As we’re just beginning, I felt it appropriate to start with the 1st chakra and work our way up.
The 1st chakra, also known as the Muladhara chakra (or root chakra) is located at the base of the sushumna nadi. The nadis are energy lines running through the body, much as we speak of meridians as energy lines in the Chinese Medicine system. The sushumna is one of the the three most often discussed in yoga as it is the channel that runs up and down the spine and feeds all of the major chakras. The sushumna begins at the perineum and runs all the way up to the crown of the head. The 1st chakra is located at the perenium, at the beginning of the nadi.
In my study and experience of the 1st chakra, I have found to be that it is very much about grounding, stability and structure in our lives. It is our sense of being grounded into a place, and into our own bodies. It is very much about our relationship to our physical bodies and because asana is a physical practice, can be very much rooted into our asana practice. In some traditions I have noticed that there is a a certain air of neglect for the lower chakras as the philosophy is grounded in moving out of the body into a more subtle state connected with spirit and enlightenment. It is my firm belief that we have incarnated in this lifetime in our physical bodies because they are such rich fields in which to play. Our physical bodies offer us so many opportunities to do our own personal work and provide us a bridge to our breath and our energetic system. Without this connection to body we would be floating out in the ethers, much in the same way we feel ungrounded when we lose connection to the root chakra.
There are numerous resources and books available that highlight the attributes of the charkas (one of my favorite resources is Anodea Judith). While I think information like this can be helpful, I feel that personal experience is the best way to explore the chakra system. Just as we all inhabit different physical bodies, our energetic bodies have their own unique blueprint as well. What may access realms in my chakras, may not for someone else; just as pigeon may suit one person for hip opening where as thread the needle is much better for someone else. So, I encourage you to explore and see what comes up for you. Once you have done some personal exploration then crack open a book to see what others have to offer and whether it matches your experience or not.
Below you will find a few recommendations of yogic practices to help you connect with the root charka to start your own personal exploration:
Stand in tadasana, close your eyes. Feel your feet on the floor and the length of your spine. Visualize your root chakra as an orb of light at the base of the sushumna nadi, located at the perineum. As you connect with this orb of light begin to send a line of light down the center line of the legs to the floor. When that line reaches the floor let it expand out into roots, like the roots of tree. Send these roots into the earth with each breath. After a minute or two, reverse the flow of energy and draw energy from the tips of the roots up the center line of the legs to the root chakra. Run this energy for several minutes. Once you feel complete gently open the eyes and notice how you feel.
As you explore each one of the poses listed below, explore the 1st chakra. Breathe into pose and take your awareness to the base of the spine. In the standing poses, visualize the energy running from the 1st chakra down the legs into the floor. In seated poses, feel the connection of your sit bones on the earth.
- Tadasana: mountain pose
- Utkatasana: chair pose
- Vrksasana: tree pose
- Malasana: garland pose
- Virasana: hero pose
- Dandasana: staff pose
Pranayama & Bhanda