The root chakra (muladhara chakra in Sanskrit) is the first of seven major centers of concentrated energy located in the body. It is also referred to as the first chakra, red chakra, or ground chakra.
According to yogic philosophy, the chakras are located along the spinal column. They ascend from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Each chakra governs specific aspects of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
This post will explore the characteristics of the root chakra and how it relates to the mind, body, and spirit. It will also provide some basic information on how to connect with, open, heal, and balance muladhara chakra.
Table of Contents
- What is the root chakra?
- What does the root chakra control?
- The Root Chakra Symbol
- Signs of a Healthy Root Chakra
- Signs Your Root Chakra Is Blocked or Imbalanced
- How to Open the Root Chakra
- Root Chakra Mantras
- Root Chakra Affirmations
- Root Chakra Stones and Crystals
- Root Chakra Essential Oils
- Root Chakra Meditation
- Root Chakra Mudras
- Yoga for the Root Chakra
- Root Chakra Healing
What is the root chakra?
In Sanskrit, mula means “root,” and adhara translates to “foundation.” Thus, muladhara chakra is the energetic vortex of “root support.” Another translation of muladhara is “root of existence.”
At its essence, this first energy center relates to our physical body, basic survival needs, identity, and the world that surrounds us. The root chakra is associated with the element of earth, the color red, the sense of smell, and the Hindu deity Ganesha.
What does the root chakra control?
As mentioned earlier, each chakra governs particular aspects of our physiological, psychological, and spiritual selves. Here are some of the associations of muladhara chakra in different areas of life.
Root Chakra and the Body
Muladhara is located at the base of the spine, at the very end of or below the coccyx. Its kshetrum, or corresponding trigger point on the surface of the body, is the perineum.
In the physical body, the root chakra is related to our:
- skeletal system,
- adrenal glands,
- nervous system,
- and excretory system.
The root chakra is also connected to the:
- lower back,
- and prostate.
Since the root chakra is linked to our sense of smell, its corresponding sensory organ is the nose.
Root Chakra and the Mind
As the first chakra, the root is linked to our primal needs and sense of security in the world. It is the energetic center related to feeling at home and grounded – both in ourselves and in physical and social environments. It also governs the parts of our life that correspond to our families, careers, material possessions, and levels of comfort in any given situation.
Root Chakra and Spiritual Evolution
There is a common misconception that the “lower” (first three) chakras, which connect us to the physical world, aren’t as important for our spiritual development as the “higher” chakras, which connect us to whatever is beyond. However, it’s actually important to build a solid foundation for spiritual practice in order to balance all of the chakras. This foundation begins at muladhara. Thus, it’s important to make sure we have a strong base in muladhara chakra to provide a support system for our spiritual growth.
The root chakra is also important along the spiritual path because it’s the home of Kundalini Shakti. Kundalini is a flow of energy that facilitates spiritual awakening. According to yogic philosophy, this energy lies dormant in muladhara like a coiled, sleeping serpent. When Kundalini Shakti is awakened, it’s as though the serpent uncoils and rises through the chakras, activating each along the way.
The Root Chakra Symbol
Each of the seven chakras is symbolically represented by a lotus flower in the form of a mandala. The chakra symbols are colored in the order of a rainbow. They start with red at the base of the spine and go to violet (or white) at the crown of the head.
The symbol for muladhara chakra is a red lotus flower with four petals. These petals correspond to the four parts of the human psyche, which translate from Sanskrit into mind, intellect, consciousness, and ego.
In the center of its mandala, the root chakra symbol contains a downward-pointing triangle inside of a square. Although there are various interpretations of these symbols, the square, which is sometimes the color yellow, generally represents stability or the element of earth.
The inverted triangle is interpreted in two opposing and complementing ways: a path of expanding consciousness from one root point to the infinite, and a channeling or funneling of life-force energy from the infinite to the root source within.
The Color Red
Red is the color associated with Shakti, the cosmic energy and divine feminine that resides in muladhara chakra. Thus, red symbolizes the movement from dormancy to alert consciousness and the transition from basic survival instinct to self-awareness.
Red also commands attention. It is the color of vitality, yet sometimes signals danger. This relates to the root chakra’s association with our primal sense of being. On a vibrational level, red is the densest color of the spectrum. It also have the lowest frequency, corresponding to the vibration of the first chakra.
Signs of a Healthy Root Chakra
When our root chakra is balanced, our energy and life seem to flow easily. In its ideal state, muladhara chakra is associated with:
- Feeling secure, safe, and at home
- Physical strength and vitality
- Clear thinking and concentration
- Love, excitement, and passion
Signs Your Root Chakra Is Blocked or Imbalanced
Each chakra is a spinning vortex of energy that is connected with the entire body through various energetic channels, called nadis. Thus, when chakras are blocked, overactive, deficient, or otherwise not functioning at their optimum, it affects the flow of prana, our vital life force energy, to the entire body. It’s particularly important to balance muladhara chakra since it supports our basic survival needs in the physical body and the rest of the chakras in the subtle, energetic body.
Any sort of physical, mental, or emotional occurrence or pattern can affect the root chakra. Furthermore, hereditary, ancestral, or karmic patterns can also cause muladhara imbalances. On the bright side, once we understand the signs of an imbalanced root chakra, we can take steps towards healing it.
Physical Signs of a Root Chakra Imbalance
- Lower back pain
- Kidney stones
- Eating disorders
- Bladder or bowel issues
- Ankle, knee, leg, or foot instability issues or injuries
Mental and Emotional Signs of a Root Chakra Imbalance
- Anxiety or fear
- Low self-esteem or self-worth
- Anger or aggression
- Greed or obsession with material possessions
How to Open the Root Chakra
If it seems like the root chakra is blocked or imbalanced, there are a variety of methods you can use to bring it into a healthier state. Techniques for balancing, healing, activating, or opening the chakras include:
- Dietary or lifestyle changes
- Working with crystals, oils, or other therapies
In the following sections, we’ll discuss details about the various ways to connect with and heal the root chakra.
Root Chakra Mantras
Mantras are a powerful way to focus the mind and to harmonize the self with vibrations specific to each chakra. To use the following mantras, either chant them aloud or repeat them silently in your mind. Do this while focusing on the root chakra or a root-related characteristic that you would like to embrace or heal.
In yoga, each of the main chakras is associated with a one-syllable bija mantra or “seed sound” that resonates at its unique frequency. By chanting a bija mantra, we attune to its corresponding chakra.
The bija mantra for muladhara chakra is lam (pronounced to rhyme with Tom).
As previously mentioned, the root chakra is associated with Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity. He is known to be the remover of obstacles and ruler of wisdom and prosperity. Thus, any Ganesha mantra also strengthens muladhara. Here are three examples of Ganesha mantras:
Om gam ganapathaye namaha
Ganesha sharanam, sharanam ganesha
Om shri ganesha namaha
The Kundalini Yoga tradition also recommends specific mantras for strengthening different aspects of our lives, which are associated with the root chakra. One that’s recommended by Yogi Bhajan (who popularized Kundalini Yoga) is a traditional Sikh prayer called the Mul Mantra. You may have gathered that this translates to “root mantra.” According to Yogi Bhajan, “The Mul Mantra is a fate killer. It removes the fate and changes the destiny to complete prosperity.”
Ek ong kaar, Sat naam
Karataa purakh, Nirbhao (neer bho), Nirvair (neer vair)
Ajoonee, Saibhang, Gur prasaad
Aad such, Jugaad such
Hai bhee such, Naanak hosee bhee such
Especially with complex mantras, it’s helpful to have a listen for yourself before chanting along. This audio video from Arex is a great place to start:
Root Chakra Affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that help our bodies and minds fall into alignment with a set intention. To use an affirmation, speak it out loud, write it down, and/or repeat it mentally. Your affirmation can be something simple, such as: “I am balancing my root chakra.” Of course, creating an affirmation that you tailor to your unique situation can be especially helpful during a healing process.
Here are some examples of affirmations to strengthen root chakra imbalances:
- I have everything I need.
- The Universe is loving and will guide me.
- I love myself.
- With every breath, I release anxiety.
- I feel protected in this world.
Root Chakra Stones and Crystals
Working with any stone, crystal, or other fragment of Earth helps us to ground and connect to the root chakra. However, there are specific gemstones and crystals that you can use to tune into your muladhara chakra.
In general, crystals and stones that match the symbolic color of the chakra are ideal. Thus, root chakra stones are primarily red. These include:
- Red jasper
In addition, black stones are protective and stabilizing. Thus, they are conducive to balancing muladhara chakra. Examples include:
- Black onyx
Root Chakra Essential Oils
Muladhara chakra rules our sense of smell. So, you can use essential oils to create a deeper connection to your root. Oils derived from tree resins or woods, or those that have an otherwise deep or long-lasting earthy fragrance, are especially conducive to strengthening the first chakra.
There are various methods for using essential oils for aromatherapy. However, for connecting with muladhara chakra, it can be helpful to use oils on the soles of the feet or base of the spine.
Recommended essentials oils to balance the root chakra include:
Root Chakra Meditation
Meditation is an important practice for balancing any chakra or area of life. A stable seat is the foundation of most meditation techniques. However, it’s particularly important while working with the root chakra because it helps to ground and stabilize the body and mind.
To create a stable seat for meditation, you can sit cross-legged, in a kneeling position, or in a chair. In the latter case, sit with your feet resting on the ground or on a cushion. In addition, the most important part of any meditation posture is a straight spine, relaxed body, and the ability to maintain stillness throughout the meditation without pain.
Specific meditation techniques for balancing the root chakra include:
Imagine roots extending from your body, which connect you deeply with the Earth.
- As you inhale, take in nourishment, vitality, joy, or anything else that supports your highest self.
- As you exhale, release anything that is not serving you, knowing that Earth can recycle and repurpose all energy.
Focus on the color red or imagine a red light at the base of your spine. Set the intention for this light to heal any root chakra-related imbalance.
Chant or mentally repeat one of the root-related mantras or affirmations above. As you do so, think about the muladhara chakra and its associations.
A quick internet search can provide scripted relaxation or meditation exercises for the root chakra. They can help to strengthen or heal imbalances associated with the first chakra.
Root Chakra Mudras
You can also use the yogic practice of mudra, or hand gestures, to work with the root chakra. Use them on their own or incorporate them with meditation. Here are a few to try:
Touch the tips of your thumbs and index fingers together and rest your hands on your knees with palms facing down for grounding.
Thumb to Ring Finger
The ring finger represents the element of earth. Thus, touching the thumb and ring finger together will stimulate a sense of stability.
With hands together in prayer position, fold the small finger and ring finger into your palms. The tips of the middle fingers should extend upward, touching each other. Form two “links” by touching the tips of each thumb with the index finger of the same hand and interlace the links.
Yoga for the Root Chakra
Any yoga posture that focuses on the connection between the body and the Earth (floor, mat, etc.) can strengthen muladhara chakra. Keep in mind that with any yoga posture, it’s important to maintain an awareness of the breath and the body. A focus on muladhara chakra in its ideal state will also enhance the effects of each posture or practice.
No matter your age, build, or fitness level, here are some basic yoga postures that should be fairly easy to do:
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Stand up tall with a straight spine, relaxed shoulders, and tailbone pointed downward. Spread your toes wide, engage the arches of your feet, and press into your feet behind both big toes, both small toes, and the edges of your heels. Breathe deeply and bring your awareness to your connection with Earth.
Yogic Squat (Malasana)
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart and toes pointed outward. Bring your hands together in a prayer position in front of your heart and gently lower down to a squat. You can add a cushion beneath your heels if they don’t make contact with the floor. Press your elbows against the inside edges of your knees and lengthen your spine. Notice the sensation of taking a lower center of gravity and of the solid foundation created by taking a wide-legged stance.
Savasana (or Reclined Savasana)
Lie on the floor, either on your back or stomach, and completely relax the body and mind. Rest in this position for as long as desired, supported by the Earth.
The yogic practice of engaging mula bandha, the energetic lock located at the perineum, also helps to strengthen the root chakra and to direct energetic flow in the body. For those unfamiliar with bandhas, it’s helpful to begin with guidance. However, to engage mula bandha – the “root lock” – contract and lift the muscles of the pelvic floor. You can practice this on its own or with basic asanas to increase their energetic benefits.
For those who are already familiar with yoga, tree pose, goddess squat, sun salutations, warrior poses, and most seated asanas are also conducive to strengthening the root chakra.
Root Chakra Healing
Besides the previously-mentioned ways to connect with the root chakra, it’s also possible to heal a deficient or overactive energy center with various healing modalities, including:
Therapists in fields like hypnosis, reiki, breathwork, and emotion-focused therapy (EFT) can help diagnose and heal issues related to the root chakra.
Physical exercise, dance, or other mindfulness-based movement practices serve to move and release energy that stagnates in the root chakra. Furthermore, exercise helps to excite the body and mind when we feel lethargic, depressed, or “stuck.”
Eating dense, earthy foods (especially root vegetables) and dark red foods (berries, tomatoes, pomegranate, beetroot, etc.) can help us to be grounded, which strengthens muladhara chakra.
Certain frequencies can alter the frequencies of each chakra. So, vibration-based sound-healing techniques like gong baths, listening to binaural beats, using singing bowls, and listening to or playing drums are helpful for chakra balancing. In fact, sound is so effective in working with the chakras that there is an entire practice called “chakra toning” that uses different tones to tune the chakras. The root chakra corresponds to the note of “C,” and the Solfeggio frequency of 396 Hz.
Spending time connecting to Earth – grass, stones, and mud alike – supports sentiments of belonging, inner peace, and security. Gardening, building a sandcastle, resting in nature, or simply walking barefoot all encourage a balanced root chakra.
The best way to balance or heal any chakra is through intention, mindfulness, and a healthy lifestyle. And as we just learned, the best place to start any journey towards holistic well-being is at the root.