What is the ‘Root Chakra’?
According to the Ancient Hindu, the physical body has seven main chakras, or energy centers, which are aligned beginning with the 1st chakra at the base of the spine, and moving upwards to the 7th chakra located at the very top of the head.
The First Chakra, named “Muladhara” in the Hindu model, means “root,” and the paths of energy in this chakra extend downward like a root through the legs and feet to contact the solid Earth below. This is why we often refer to this first chakra as the ‘Root Chakra,’ as it embodies your relationship to the physical. This includes your body/physicality, aspects of the self; your sense of security, safety, and survival; and your connection to the environment or planet. As the chakra located at the base of the spine, your root energy center is home to the raw, static energy of life. Raising and channeling this energy not only boosts your overall health, but plays a pivotal role in spiritual awakening.  As the chakra of grounding, the first chakra governs your inner sense of security and place in this world.
Other ancient cultures also make reference to a form of a foundational, root chakra, including the Tsalagi (Cherokee) Energy System, which dates back to 837 BC, (“The Subtle Body,” p. 293) and the early Mayan Energy System, which was based on energetic principles and systems that mirrored the ancient Hindu; in fact, they might even predate it. (Secret os Mayan Science & Religion, p. 58) With so much evidence of ancient energy systems from distant cultures placing such great emphasis on the energy of the Root Chakra, we can see clearly how important it is to maintain its balance.
“The Muladhara (root) chakra is the foundation for the whole chakra system. Its function is to respond to any issues concerning survival: eating, sleeping, exercising, recovering from illness, making a living, or simply feeling safe and secure. If our survival needs are properly taken care of, then we can safely focus on other levels, such as learning, creativity, or relationships. If there is some damage to the chakra, then we find ourselves repeatedly coping with threats to our survival, which keeps us from accomplishing other things. These threats might be changing jobs, having to move, recurrent health problems, weight problems, and/or a general feeling of fear for one’s safety. These are all issues that occur occasionally in the normal course of one’s life. Anytime they occur, they trigger our first chakra programming. Having to move may make us feel insecure, bring on a cold, or make us eat more. It is only when such issues become a frequent pattern that a first chakra problem is indicated.” 
How do you know if you have a Root Chakra Imbalance?
Chakras function on bands of frequency, which can disturbed by any number of factors, such as disease, trauma, abuse, religious or cultural negativity, prejudice, or childhood imprints, to name just a few. Without proper healing or chakra ‘recalibration,’ these vibrational bands go “off pitch.” To cope with this, the physical body will attempt to fill in the depleted energy, or remove any excessive energy in order to rebalance itself. (“The Subtle Body,” p. 320) You may have an overactive or excessive root chakra, if you have general issues with control, whether it be self-control, controlling your surroundings, or needing to always “have your way.” (This excessive controlling energy is focused internally, or on the self…not to be confused with controlling others, which is a Solar Plexus Chakra issue.)
Eating disorders and unhealthy eating habits are typically root chakra manifestations of control. “Eating is a basic first chakra survival activity. Without food, we do not survive very long. Eating disorders (too much or too little) often indicate first chakra imbalance. Eating is a grounding activity—it helps to bring us down, helps us to feel settled, calm, secure. Excess weight can be an attempt to ground out high stress, to protect the body, or to replace proper grounding techniques. Eating too little or being chronically underweight can be an attempt to avoid grounding and physicality because it seems too frightening or confining.” 
If you are stubborn, to the point that you are unwilling to compromise in your own life, be flexible with yourself, or simply “go with life’s flow,” you may have some surplus root chakra energy. If you have very rigid internal beliefs, or try to control future events and outcomes in your own life, your root chakra energy may very well be out of control.  “For a person who has depleted energy in the first chakra, it might be hard to feel safe in the world, as everything looks like a potential risk. The desire for security dominates and can translate into concerns over the job situation, physical safety, shelter, or health. A blocked root chakra may turn into behaviors ruled mainly by fear.” 
Likewise, you may have an underactive or deficient root chakra, if you experience frequent or ongoing symptoms of exhaustion, lethargy, or apathy. If you suffer from extreme anxiety or if you struggle with indecisiveness, have fight or flight reactions to everyday experiences, or often feel alone/ isolated, you very likely would benefit from increasing your root chakra energy flow. Other symptoms of a weakened root chakra include a frequent lack of focus/being “scattered,” or having a “victim mentality.” 
Addiction: Unfortunately, most of the body’s unconscious solutions for rebalancing the root chakra energy rely on addictive, dangerous substances, or unhealthy behavior patterns, each of which operate on and emit a set frequency. ( “The Subtle Body,” p.320) Each chakra has a different relationship with physical substances, including certain types of food/drinks. You may have an imbalanced root chakra if you fixate on, heavily-rely upon, or are addicted to any of the following specific, physical substances:
- hard drugs
Similarly, repetitive, habitual, or addictive behaviors could be highlighting a root chakra issue.
Ask yourself: Do I struggle to find a ‘work-life balance’? Am I obsessed with sex or a sexual addict? Do I frequently get sick or ill? Do I get into frequent accidents or unintentionally injure myself often? Do I intentionally harm myself, such as by ‘cutting’ or by engaging in sadistic or masochistic behaviors?Am I “fanatical” about working out or exercising significantly more so than even the fittest of my friends? Do I regularly spend an excessive amount of money shopping, or am I a self-proclaimed “Shop-a-holic”? Have I had an excessive amount of financial debt, maybe even ‘for as long as I can remember’?
How Can I Restore Balance & Heal My Root Chakra?
It is important to note here that while you may have experienced some extensive damaging challenges to your root chakra health in your formative first years—such as childhood neglect or abuse, or even the best of intentions in hospital medical care that actually prevented you from being held by your mother at all times—not all causes of root chakra imbalance set so early on. Even the most well-balanced, healthy, grounded human beings will fluctuate in chakra health, from excessive to deficient to completely closed off energy flow, and then back again.
We are emotionally, electrically-charged beings, and our energy flows much like a circuit, depending on our psychological & emotional state of being, as well as the state of the world around us. Just as electrical circuits overload, and might sometimes shutdown or break, so too, do our chakras. Chakra re-calibration and re-balancing are a regular, sometimes even daily, activity to explore, and this does not imply that your energy is somehow “broken.” You just have to take responsibility for your “electrical flow.”
Get IN your Body!
Any physical activity (sports, walking, dancing, gardening, etc.) will automatically bring you back into your body. “Exercise has another vital role: It signals the release of several key hormones, including serotonin, the famed mood booster; dopamine, which affects learning and attention; and norepinephrine, which influences attention, perception, motivation, and arousal. This exercise-induced chemical cocktail has a powerful impact. By elevating neurotransmitters in the brain, it helps us focus, feel better, and release tension.” 
“Depending on the severity of the chakra imbalance, simply adjusting your diet, getting enough exercise, and incorporating meditation into your routine can restore chakra balance. Yoga benefits the root chakra and its overall balance, especially when dealing with an overly active center. Calming and low impact exercise tends to counter-balance the excess of energy.” 
To ensure that you have a healthy balance of energy in your root chakra, make sure that you are taking care of your body and providing yourself with your basic survival needs. Be sure you are getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy, balanced diet that works for your specific dietary needs. Eastern medicine emphasizes the balance of Yin & Yang in many areas of one’s life, including the energy of the diet.
To encourage more focus “in the body,” try increasing your intake of “Yang foods,” which are naturally more heavy and filling (think winter harvest and cold weather month foods.) Consider adding in more salt and minerals of the earth, including foods with high salt content and those that are high in other natural mineral sources, like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Also try incorporating more nuts; fresh, dark leafy greens; and any vegetables that grow IN the ground (“root vegetables”!) such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, legumes, beets, garlic, and caffeine-free teas made from roots, such as dandelion root tea.  Avoid/cut back on “Yin foods” which are naturally lighter and more ‘uplifting,’ such as sugary foods (like fruits and juices,) alcohol, stimulants (like caffeine,) and spicier foods, which ‘excite’ the body. 
Meditation & Breathing Exercises
You can also use meditation to ground yourself. Just focus your attention on your body. Start at your crown and move downward with your attention, feeling every part of your body.  Try this: The sense organ that corresponds to the first chakra is smell. While meditating, focus on the tip of your nose to help align the root and bring forth the qualities you need to balance your root chakra. 
My personal favorite breathing exercise is called the “4-7-8 Breath,” named that because you take a DEEP, SLOW breath IN for 4 counts, you HOLD IT IN for 7 counts, and you release it SLOWLY for a full count of 8. I LOVE this breathing exercise because I can do it ANYWHERE, and nobody can even tell what I’m doing! I practice this exercise to help me calm down before bed, when I’m stuck in an ‘anxious thought loop’ all by myself, or even in the middle of a large gathering! 
“The element associated with the first chakra is earth. Earth is solid, earth is heavy, earth is below us, and earth supplies us with our survival needs: food, clothing and shelter. The universal force that flows downward, like roots, toward the Earth is gravity. Gravity is created by mass—the more mass something has, the stronger its gravity. The force of gravity allows us to stay connected with the Earth. We need not do anything but relax, and gravity is there. When we allow ourselves to flow gracefully with gravity, we are in harmony with the downward flow of the first chakra. The common term for this flow as it occurs in the human body is grounding. Grounding is a process of dynamic contact with the Earth that occurs through our legs and feet. When grounding is done appropriately, our whole body is nourished and energized.” 
Our planet actually emits its own frequency (you can HEAR it!) and we call it “The Schumann Resonance.” Many times astronauts would become ill after spending extended periods of time in outer space, and we couldn’t figure out why. But when they touched back down on Earth, they began to rapidly get well again. We later realized that lifeforms from Earth need to be connected to the Earth’s frequency to thrive. The Earth’s frequency of 7.83 hz, (the Schumann Resonance) is considered to be so important to NASA that all modern spacecraft are said to contain a device which simulates it! 
Why does this matter to us Earth-dwellers, you ask? Well, by constantly wearing shoes, staying indoors, and surrounding yourself with the myriad of electronics devices, you are unintentionally ‘buffering’ your connection to the Earth’s frequency! So, spend more time outside IN NATURE. If you live in the middle of a busy city, make it a priority to get away from the noise, traffic, concrete, & hustle and bustle. Make a regular effort to visit a state park or nature preserve as frequently as possible. Take off your shoes outside in the grass to connect with the energy of the earth!
Grounding Exercise by Anodea Judith
Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly in. (Take your shoes off so you can feel the floor under you.) Press into your feet as if you were trying to push the floorboards apart between your feet. You will feel a solidity come into your legs as you do this. This comes from pushing down into your feet.
Once you can feel that solidity, you are ready to begin the exercise. Inhale deeply and bend your knees, letting your belly relax. Now exhale and push into your feet s-l-o-w-l-y, pushing as you did before and allowing your legs to slowly straighten. Do not let them straighten all the way, but bend them again and inhale as you go down into your legs. Push again against the floor as you exhale, pushing your energy downward through your body.
Do not completely straighten your legs, keep breathing, and move slowly. If you are doing this correctly, you will start to feel a slow vibration in your legs as you push against the floor. This vibration is the charge of energy moving through your legs and into your first chakra. It can be used to push out blocks, to increase your sense of contact with your body, or to simply make you feel awake and refreshed.
It is possible to get overcharged, however, so exercise caution in how long you keep this up. If you get overcharged and feel anxious, kick your feet into a pile of pillows, shake your body, or let out whatever feelings are arising. 
After learning more about the Muladhara chakra, did any of the symptoms of imbalance resonate with you? I must be completely honest—I have always thought that my connection to the physical world was fairly balanced. In doing my own in-depth research, I have come to realize that my root chakra is likely in need of some significant balancing, which surprised me. In looking back over my life thus far, I can see some pronounced patterns of increasing anxiety from as early as childhood (I was even medicated for many years as well, and still work on managing those behavioral repercussions.) I have struggled with a LOT of the issues indicating an imbalance in my foundational energy, including some pivotal periods of insecurity, safety issues, and trauma. In writing this article, I realized that I need to be putting more focus on healing and balancing the energy in my Muladhara chakra. We are never done learning and growing!
As a Certified Behavioral Health Educator & Holistic Health Coach, I emphasize both Eastern & Western approaches to help my clients reach personal mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual life goals. In my holistic health practice, I use the Eastern Chakra system as a model, along with the latest approaches in Western Psychology, Neuroscience, and Nutrition. My intention is to help you access inner resources of strength, insight, growth, and healing, and I view myself as a partner to assist in your life journey. If you would like more information about how the Eastern Chakra model and holistic health/lifestyle support options, please feel free to connect with me! I would love to hear more about your needs and how I may be able to help you!