The root chakra is the first of the seven major chakras and forms the foundation of the chakra system. It is located at the coccyx or base of the spine and is associated with our feet, legs and buttocks.
Without a healthy root system, a tree won’t grow and so we must establish a firm foundation in our physical body for our health and personal growth. Our legs and feet act as the conduit between our central energy channel of the spinal column and the Earth. Our root chakra is the mechanism through which we ground or ‘Earth’ our energy. In the previous article we discussed the body’s energy system as a vertical current, running up and down the spine. The Earth beneath us provides a reference point and a means for us to discharge excess nervous energy, like static, and serves as a return current for our energy.
The term grounding also refers to being in our body. We often take it for-granted that we are in our body, but grounding means being physically and mentally present in our body, being in the here and now and physically feeling sensations like the ground beneath us. When we lack a sense of grounding, we are focused on what is in our head and we may lack sensation in the body or awareness of our surroundings. Lack of grounding creates a disconnect between the mind and body as if we are cutting off our power supply. Lack of grounding gives rise to an excess of thought energy leading to stress and anxiety as all the excess nervous energy has nowhere to discharge and is re-routed back to the mind. Before doctors and psychiatrists prescribe us pills for anxiety and stress, they usually recommend deep breathing, developing body awareness and yoga or meditation, all of which re-establish our connection with our body and help to ground us.
Just as a tree with a poor or shallow root system will become top heavy and fall with the slightest breeze, without a connection to our body, we will become top heavy with too much thinking, stress and anxiety, leading to a decline in our overall health and well being.
A healthy root chakra provides us with a stable base and is related to our survival, security, safety and having our basic needs met. It is the foundation of a healthy mind and body. Since it relates to survival and our basic needs, it influences having enough money, a roof over our head, food on our table and the ability to feel safe and secure. A blocked root chakra will manifest as problems in these area as well as a deep sense of fear of not having enough or that we don’t belong. Fear relates to our survival instinct and as such, our root chakra is closely related to our adrenal glands, nervous system and our stress response. When we experience fear, our body is flooded with adrenaline which triggers the fight of flight response of the nervous system, giving us a temporary burst of energy and strength to either face or run from the threat. If we are unable to ground and discharge that excess nervous energy after the stressful event, we remain in a heightened state of stress. When we experience chronic stress we become restless, anxious and can’t concentrate leading to all sorts of physical and mental health problems (insomnia, high blood pressure, weakened immune system and chronic fatigue).
The root chakra also represents our metaphorical roots, our family and childhood. Our root chakra first developed as a baby when we received nourishment from our mother and had our basic needs provided for, helping to establish our sense of trust that we will be taken care of. Without this sense of trust, we experienced fear – the antithesis of a healthy root chakra.
There are a number of reasons why your root chakra may not be functioning properly:
- chronic stress
- lack of grounding/spending too much time in our head
- past trauma or abuse
- childhood neglect
The good news is that we can improve the health and functioning of our root chakra. Grounding exercises are especially beneficial as well as exercises that strengthen the feet and legs. Yoga is great for grounding, especially if you truly embody your practice rather than staying stuck in your head the entire class. Bringing your awareness to your feet and legs and the contact points to the floor help to establish our metaphysical roots, keep us connected to our body and firm up our foundation. Consciously walking barefoot outside, known as Earthing is another great grounding exercise.
With a stable base, our basic needs met and our ability to receive nourishment from the physical world, we are able to prosper and grow. A healthy root chakra will channel energy up the spine into the sacral chakra, our emotional and pleasure center.
Want to learn how to ground your energy and develop your root chakra? Check out our upcoming Energy Anatomy Workshop.