teacher training fall 2007

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

first chakra (muladhara )

Color: Red
Function: Grounding and rooting.
Group identity.
Instinctual impulse towards survival.
Fear of abandonment and insecurity.

If we look at the word mula it means root in Sanskrit. Muladhara chakra, the first energy center in the body symbolizes our roots. If you think about the word ‘root’, it means grounding, supporting and nurturing, if there are roots there is an anchor, a sense of security, roots also nurture. This plays such a big part in ones life and how one lives and interacts. 

As a mother I see my child form his impressions not from what I say but from what I do. He is 24 hours a day learning and taking in things, forming his identity. Children as they grow up look for that sense of identity. Principles that are taught, do’ and don’ts, and creating boundaries give a sense of security and rooting.

 Culture also impacts a child, from what food one is brought up with, to what religion is practiced. In many traditions, there is a support from an extended family. It is not that a mother is left alone to bring up her child, or that a child is put in day care all day as both parent have to work just to survive. Someone once said to me where are our grandmothers and great aunts. We may not have close ties with extended family but a community can play the same role. We learn tradition and moral principles from our extended family, immediate family and our community, when there is disruption in one family then one can get support and strength from community and friends.

Community and family nurture our growth and allow us to connect with our roots and traditions. Having a functional family forms a network that it gives support in times of need, allowing one to feel safe. A sense of safety allows individuals to grow into mature responsible adults, exemplifying loyalty. If ones roots are broken, as in broken up families, then our feeling safe and secure waives, our strength weakens to the degree of group support we have. Imagine a stick on its own, it is easy to break with two hands, but imagine a big bundle of sticks, if you try to break a bundle it will be much more difficult, similarly our strength comes from our confidence in our group identity. It is that group identity either it coming from immediate family or community that often forms our beliefs and the principles that we decide to live by. In some cases this may be positive or in other cases negative. 

Our beliefs and principles that we have decided to hold onto can either empower us to grow and flourish, allowing us to make decisions in a way that is healing and liberating, or they can cripple our vision and outlook in the world. Instead of being broadminded, open hearted, our cultural upbringing, and disruptive childhood can cause us to be irrational, self centered and unstable. When one’s root chakra is strong, one is connected to the earth with confidence, being able to hold ones ground, responsible and loyalty is a result. From a rooted safe place we are able to give and extend out to others selflessly.

Ones fear of survival, fear of abandonment, and feeling insecure are all first chakra emotions that are stored in the body. Our emotions leave deep impression within our body often causing illness. By targeting the muscles where these emotions are stored, through specific yoga poses, that isolate that area we begin to unblock our emotional toxics that are trapped, this letting becomes empowering in ones journey of transformation.

Target specific areas for the first chakra.
Piriformis muscle in the hip and buttocks and the adductor muscles in the inner thighs. (Tightness in the piriformis is the main cause of sciatica). Tightness in hips, groin, and hamstrings are also first chakra conflict zones. Unlocking our fears and insecurities, means going deep into yoga poses that isolate the buttocks (piriformis), and inner thigh (adductors). It is good to observe what emotions may arise when in yoga pose such as pigeon, ankle to knee, lizard pose and head to ankle pose. It is often a sense of sink or swim, fear of survival surfaces. Our screaming butt is almost saying ‘who am I’. As we begin to dig up our childhood, we discover the stuff that has been swept under the rug for many years, silently and unconsciously festering, it turns to frustration and anger. The anger and frustration that arises is often from having to conform to a tribe or group that has not necessary enhanced our growth. We have to learn to dig deep, we are gardeners removing the deep-rooted weeds that continue to stunt our growth.

It is also important to focus on the grounding force in poses. Initiate activating mula bhanda beginning with active feet, drawing the energy from the earth into the inner thighs and lifting the pelvic floor. Standing poses strengthen ones root chakra, as it connect one with their root lock (mula bhanda). If one is not able to stand firmly, then we are like a tree without roots. If there is a storm then the tree is easily uprooted, similar when there is a storm in our lives we fall apart, we are uprooted. There must be rooting before rising. Just as a plant grows, there are roots anchored before it rises and grows towards the sun. Similarly if we are not rooted then our growth is stunted and our sense of direction instable, our moving forward is not secure.
 Yoga gives us a sense of stability; it helps one cultivate balance not just on the matt but also in life’s challenges.

*Pigeon folding forward (stenches piriformis), reclined included
*Ankle to knee with variations (stenches piriformis)
Straddle forward bend (adductors)
*Seated wide leg forward bend (adductors)
*head to ankle pose
*head to ankle prep
*Frog and Baddhokon asana (adductors)
(All standing poses, can be focused on 1st chakra when mula chakra is active, creating a grounding force)
Parsvotonasna (hamstrings)
Extended hand to big toe pose (ham)
*Reclined half tortoise
*Lizard pose
Standing goddess
*Seated head to knee (ham and inner thigh)
Seated forward bend (ham)
*Hanuman asana (ham)
Childs pose with wide legs (groin and inner thighs)

*Primary yoga poses that isolate high charge points for first chakra.

Mantra: Lam
Chanting mantras while in a yoga pose, immediately grounds a person, it channels energy in the right direction, helping to stabilize the flickering mind and brings one into the physical body. From the physical we then go deeper into stabilizing the mind and emotions. Sound vibration can break through energetic blocks and allow one to uncover their true self-identity that is not depended on ones up bringing. The power of spiritual sound removes our many layers of conditioning and replaces the mind with positive impressions; it is a means to uncover the pure atma (self). When we come to a point in our lives when we question ‘who am I’ that is the first quest of self-identity. To be free
from all of ones labels and masks and to find our true essence and identity is the key to opening our muladhara chakra.


Debbie said...

Hello. I am curious why you left out the feet when discussing poses to balance the muladhara chakra? Afterall, they are the "roots" of our bodies.

Lori said...

Our feet are the grounding source to our bodies, Debbie. Our root stems from the tail, first chakra center. the energy also moves from there to feet, as well as from the earth into feet, to root center. its a cycle that roots us. An even flow that grounds us.

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