As promised, I am continuing with my introduction to the chakras, beginning at the root with the first one. This way of moving through the Chakras could very well be another Western construct, where things are arranged in order, from "lesser" to "greater". As my personal experience with the Charkas evolved, I think of them more like a dial, where you can start counting from any point and turn the wheel of the dial in any direction.

The first chakra is where the Ida and the Pingala come together after their journey from the nostrils, it is also the gateway to the Shushumna, the central energy channel that is often closed by Kundalini, or our toxic wastes.  I have a special article on what Kundalini is, but let’s just say for now that you don’t want that stuff rising and "hitting the fan."  There are also nadis that flow from the Muladhara chakra down into the legs and feet.  For this reason the legs and feet play an important role in balancing the Earth element installed in the first chakra. You can focus on the Earth element no matter what pose you are doing.  In particular, the pinky toe (5th) represents the energy of the Earth, but the entire health of the feet, knees and leg alignment is important.  In the West, we don’t keep our feet healthy – we wear uncomfortable shoes, our feet don’t breathe, arches flatten, bunions and hammertoes develop, ankles become weak. 

Health Issues associated with the Earth element:

  • stability
  • survival, support, safety.  If your life is in danger, if you feel as if you have no support, if you are hospitalized, broken a bone, the Earth element is affected. 
  • can become out of balance simply by taking a business trip, and more out of balance if your entire residence or job changes.  Many of us experience small ungrounding moments daily.  Sometimes these can add up to make us feel very ungrounded and unbalanced. 
  • Health of feet – bunions, hammer toes, fallen arches
  • Pelvic issues – alignment of the pelvis in the up or down direction
  • Constipation/diarrhea (let go/engage Mula Bandha respectively)
  • Arthritis

Imbalance can happen if your Earth element is not aligned to appropriately charge and discharge energy.  We can replenish ourselves with energy from the earth and we can give back to Mother Earth unwanted or excess energies by discharging.  The main alignment instruction for the first chakra is reaching the pubic bone to the tailbone and tailbone towards the pubic bone with equal effort, which will result in a sense of lift and buoyancy of the pelvic floor.  Through a healthy pelvic floor we are able to charge and discharge efficiently, and if your pelvic floor is numb, weak, unresponsive or not even on the radar of your awareness, it affects the entire posture, the way you carry your pelvis, and as a consequence, the spinal column that sits on top of it.  If your base, your foundation is not providing you support, the entire structure is very unstable.

Yoga practice can help strengthen the feet and teach proper alignment of the core and give you back the resiliency of the pelvic floor, which in turn improves health throughout the body.  Each foot contains 26 bones.  Consider that the entire body only has 206 bones, 52 of them are in the feet.  A quarter of all the bones is in the feet!  The feet are rather important structures and therefore we need to give them a quarter of our attention in our Yoga poses.  Not to mention that reflexologists have found pressure points for virtually every system, organ and gland of the body in the soles of our feet.

  • Hero pose, Vajrasana for strength and flexibility
  • Ankle rolls, point and flex, toes rolled and tucked (as in moving from updog to downdog).  Pulling toes, stretching them, isometric presses on the toes with hands to strengthen them
  • lunges with the heel down, stretching of Achilles heels, picking up objects with toes.
  • Moving the toes individually
  • Inversions to relieve excess pressure on feet and legs, to drain the venal blood from them, reduce swelling, rest the feet and improve circulation
  • Anything that makes you feel grounded and connected to earth – symmetrical and lying poses, squats, savasana, favorite chair, good meal, familiar surroundings.  Well fed, healthy body does not demand more than it deserves.
  • And finally, all standing poses have the potential to be very healing to the Earth element – by rooting down with our bare feet while at the same time spreading the toes, lifting the arches of the feet, we are able to charge energy from the Earth, and to discharge what we don’t need back to it.  The Earth is the best recycler there is – everything that we don’t need, that weighs us down, that is toxic to our body/mind in any way can be discharged back into the Earth, making it richer and more fertile. 

Pranayama: full diaphragmatic breath that engages your pelvic floor.  Observe how on the inhale the pelvic floor releases and softens downward, mimicking the action of the diaphragm, and how on the exhale the pelvic floor lifts and tones upward as the diaphragm pulls back under the ribcage.  This eternal dance of the diaphragm (Third Chakra) and the pelvic floor (First chakra) is the link that is often missing, is broken or dysfunctional.  When our breaths are shallow and confined to the chest, when the diaphragm does not move properly, the pelvic floor doesn’t receive this tug and pull and becomes weak, or tight, or both.  Then it can begin to pull the pelvis itself out of alignment, contributing to sciatica, as well as to the premature wear and tear of the hip, knee, and ankle joints.

The short Yoga practice that is included with this introduction to the First Chakra is meant to awaken your connection to the feet, legs, and the Earth.  Let Nature inspire you!