By Yoga Journal
Cultivate a sense of earthiness, radiance, and stability through asana, breath, and meditation in this practice for the muladhara chakra.
As you work with this chakra, cultivate a sense of earthiness in your feet, legs, and pelvic floor. Let each exhale land you in the moment. You may practice this sequence with or without vinyasa. Aim to feel radiant instead of rushed and stable instead of stuck.
Connect To Your Muladhara Energy
One of the easiest ways to connect with Muladhara energy is to stand tall, close your eyes and simply feel your feet touching the ground. Imagine your feet, legs, and pelvic bowl are filled with living fertile soil. Feel the steadiness that brings to your body and breath.
To take it up a notch, try stomping. Remind yourself you belong here. You are here on purpose. You have a right to be in this body, in this life, and you have a sacred responsibility to stand with intention.
Begin your practice seated. Close your eyes and feel the earth beneath you. Feel every part of your body that is touching the ground and sense an energetic exchange happening between your body and the earth. It is supporting you. Take a deep breath in through your nose. As you let out a long exhale, feel your feet, legs, and pelvis releasing into ground. As you begin to surrender to that downward current of energy, notice that in response the inner spine becomes lighter. Feel the resulting lift from the root of your tailbone and through the crown of your head.
Set Your Intention
Now set your intention for this practice. To grease the wheels, here are some themes that relate to this chakra: releasing fear, trusting yourself, healthy flow between activation and rest, believing that you deserve to be here, letting go of resentment, cultivating groundedness, healing childhood issues. Feel free to use any of these or choose your own. As long as it feels true for you it has value.
From seated rock forward onto hands and knees and ease the sitbones back onto the heels into Child's Pose. Gently release your forehead into the earth and take 5 slow breaths. Let your whole body release deeply. Notice what it feels like to be completely supported and invite this exchange of surrender and support into the rest of your practice.
Move through Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and step your right foot forward between your hands and place your left knee gently on the ground. Pull your hips back until the right leg is straight. Keeping your hips square and your hands on the ground, extend the spine long. Let the earthiness of the legs and hips draw back and down as the inner spine moves forward and up. You may put blocks under your hands if needed. Spend at least 5 deep breaths here. Switch sides.
Move through Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) and straighten your right leg, shifting your hips back as you lengthen the right arm and torso over the right leg. Touch your right hand down to a block, your shin, or the floor near your ankle. Firm the feet down into the floor and extend your arms out from the core of your heart. Activate this pose by reaching out through the legs, arms, crown of head, and tailbone. Commit to rooting down through the feet and legs and feel for the spaciousness those roots bring to the inner body. Be as big and bright as you can be!
God of War Pose
From Downward-Facing Dog step your right foot forward between your hands, turn to face the left side of your mat then shift your weight toward the back end of your mat as you bend your left knee and straighten your right leg. Point your right toes up and keep your right knee straight but unlocked. Press your left hand down into the floor and extend your right arm up and over your right ear. Feel again here for the connection between rooting down and being freed up. Spend 3-5 breaths here then return to Down Dog and switch sides.
Extended Side Angle Pose
Move through Warrior II with your right knee bent, bring your right hand to touch the floor at the outer edge of your right foot. Reach your left arm over your left ear and past your front foot. Feel for reaching and stretching the left side body from outer left foot through the left fingertips. Press down through your feet and turn your belly and heart upward. To supercharge the earth element of this pose, press your thighbones back toward your back body and your sitbones forward toward your front body. Feel the energy rise into and unlock the hips. Spend 5 breaths here and then switch sides.
Low Lunge Quad Stretch
This pose creates an intense stretch for the psoas and quadriceps muscles. These huge muscles are associated with our flight-or-fight mechanism and are very deeply connected to the first chakra energy center. From low lunge with your right foot forward, lift your left foot and catch it with your left hand. Keeping your hips square, draw your left foot toward your left sitbone. Track the front knee in the same line as the second and third toes of the front foot. As your hips come a little closer to the earth, be aware of keeping energy in the legs by hugging the right foot and the left knee in toward each other. This will create the feeling of lift in the pelvic floor and lower belly. Spend at least 5-8 breaths here. Let the breath be slow and steady as you give these muscles a chance to transform any residual fight-or-flight energy into courageous and calm resolve. Change sides.
This deep squat returns you to an innate, close-to-earth stance. When you were a child I guarantee you spent a lot more time squatting than you do now!
Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Begin to bend your knees, lowering your sitbones toward your heels. Turn your feet out as needed so your knees and toes point the same direction. Touch your hands to the floor until you feel stable (or feel free to keep them there). As your calves and hamstrings touch, lengthen your spine upward. If you feel stable and your knees are OK, you can bring your hands together in front of your heart in Anjali Mudra. Widen your collarbones and press your elbows into your inner knees as you draw your tailbone down. Spend at least 5 breaths here trying to appreciate this compact, soothing, empowering pose.
Root Chakra Chant + Meditation
Now that you have spent some time connecting with the first chakra through asana, breath, and intention, please take a comfortable cross-legged seat. Keeping your eyes closed, begin to chant the bija mantra for muladhara chakra which is LAM. You may either chant it out loud or silently to yourself. Think of this mantra as a code. As you chant the code begins to unpack itself and reveal to you the sacred intelligence of the first chakra energy center. As you chant this mantra LAM, try to sense the vibration of the sound in the pelvic floor, the root chakra. Feel free to experiment with pace and volume and chant in a way that resonates with you. Spend at least 2 minutes with your chant, more if you like.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
When you finish chanting, lie back in Savasana and practice feeling at peace and at home in your body before you drift into quiet, restful repose.
About Stephanie Snyder
Stephanie Snyder is a San Francisco-based vinyasa yoga teacher. She's written, modeled, and created DVDs for Yoga Journal in addition to presenting at Yoga Journal LIVE!