To be rooted means to be home.
This is not the four-physical-walls type of home, but the deep-seated home of your spirit’s belonging, where your body and mind are at ease, you settle sweetly into stillness and stability, and a sense of fulfillment infuses your whole being. When rooted, you know that you have a right to be here.
This month we’ll explore what the root and grounding really means—as a concept, as a chakra, and as the felt-experience of home.
The root support, or muladhara, is an Indian philosophy that stems back to the Sat Chakra Nirupana in the early 16th century. Ancient yogis, attempting to make sense of the human experience, designed the chakra system to explore the linkage between the body and spirit.
This system provides you with an energetic map of your body, as well as tools to heal and restore balance in your life. Each chakra is associated with your physical body, your emotion, your thoughts, your spirit, and elements in nature.
For modern yogis, the idea of the root chakra is likely familiar, a topic mentioned in yoga class or training, a term referenced in grounding poses like malasana and tadasana. Hearing the phrase, “ground down to rise up,” for the first time in a yoga class can seem either overly-obvious or overly-obscure.
Avid yogi or not, the root chakra is about building a strong foundation, which everyone can agree is important.
Once you understand the impact of grounding — and you can feel grounding in your body — this concept transcends yoga postures and becomes an everyday lived experience.
To explore the root chakra, the best place to start is at the very beginning: what was it like growing up? Did you feel safe and welcome? Were you fed regularly? What was the experience of your physical body?
This is the basis of muladhara, your “root support.”
When you combine your foundational memories with the experience of your home and physical development, and you also consider your ancestral lineage and species history—you gain an idea of the immense power of your root!
Anodea Judith beautifully articulates this in her book Eastern Body, Western Mind: “In order to create a solid foundation, we have to sort out the roots of our childhood... This involves paying attention to the environments we live in and the ground we create around us.”
What soil are you growing in right now?
The element associated with the root chakra is Earth. Similar to a plant or tree that develops downward, anchoring the plant and absorbing nutriment and moisture, you too need nourishment to thrive. The plants dig into the soil to establishe structure and stability, just as you gain definition and support from your surroundings.
Look around yourself right now: what’s your living situation like? Your finances? Your health? Do you cook? And further, do your current habits reflect how you felt growing up?
Your material world provides the clues on just how “grounded” you are currently. To be rooted means to feel the stable, nourishing support of home, regardless if you have a home or not.
At its most basic, the root is the anchor. At its most complex, the root is our human tie to our species, primal needs, family history, our relationship to our mother, money and food.
To be rooted means to be at home.
At home in your body the asana feels powerful, stable and comforting. You become intimately aware of where your body meets the Earth—whether fingertips, feet or seat—and that connection gives you the foundation you need to expand and grow.
At home in your mind your thoughts are constructive, centered and nourishing. You are confident that your needs will be met and you are established in your sense of self. Factors like hunger, money, shelter and even acceptance are not worries.
At home in your soul you feel deeply fulfilled, connected to the world around you and the universe beyond you, happy to simply be. You are joyous in the opportunity to live life in a physical body, and you know to your core that you have a right to be here.
As one of my favorite poets, Nayyirah Waheed, wrote:
“i am mine.
before i am ever anyone else’s.
To be at home in yourself—that is the root.
The Craft of Teaching Yoga
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