Spring Cleaning: Reclaim Your Roots
During the Spring, farmers and gardeners begin setting the soil for new crops. For healthy plants to grow, strong roots are essential. Farmers gather fertilizer that is nutrient-rich, and they eradicate pesky weeds that could take nourishment away from any main crops they want to thrive. Before plants, vegetables, fruit, or trees can grow, the roots must form and be strong enough to support the entire crop. A plant’s roots transport nutrients and ultimately sustain the health & life of the plant. Similarly, humans require strong roots to support all the activity and growth we undergo.
In order to survive and thrive, we must first build healthy roots to support and nurture us.
What are Chakras?
In Yoga Philosophy, Chakras [Shaa- Kruhz] are energy centers that run up and down the spinal column and govern different aspects of physical and psychological development. They are invisible, or part of the subtle energetic body. They open and close throughout our lifetimes and are affected by all our unique experiences. When they are balanced, there is a steady flow of energy between mind and body.
Working with and balancing each chakra is the intention of Kundalini Yoga. There are 7 main chakras, which correspond to key stages in our human development and spiritual unfolding. The energy of each chakra can be likened to one of the elements. The first Chakra, Muladhara [Moo-Laa-thaa-ruh], rests at the base of the spine and is associated with the Earth element.
Without a strong foundation, little else can be accomplished.
In Yoga Philosophy, the Root Chakra corresponds to the physical body and one’s connection with the Earth. When in balance, we trust in the wisdom of our bodies and feel that the Earth is a safe place to live. We know how to get our basic needs met and believe we have a right to be here. More signs of a balanced Root Chakra include health & vitality, being comfortable in one’s skin, and being able to relax and be still.
An imbalanced Root Chakra leads to mistrust of the present moment and fear-based living. The energy at the Root Chakra may be deficient or excessive when out of balance.
“A person with a deficient First Chakra does not recognize the body’s importance.” – Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind.
The body is our vehicle throughout life, the one physical possession that remains with us from birth to death. We thrive and prosper when certain physical conditions are met, but wither when those requirements are neglected for too long.
At one point, people had to use their physical bodies to get basic needs met. Now, people are encouraged to get jobs where they sit for hours, get less sunlight, and use the body less. As we are trained to rely more on our heads than our bodies, we begin to neglect what our bodies are telling us each day. Our world has encouraged us to favor intellect over physical well-being—the instinctual wisdom we are all born with.
A person with an underdeveloped first chakra is usually out-of-touch with his or her body, living in the mind. Lacking a strong physical container for the mental energy, he or she gets lost in daydreaming, worrying, or overthinking. Anxiety and difficulty focusing are outer manifestations. Body dissociation is a symptom of a weak first chakra, as is anorexia or any form of body-harming.
Forming a healthy relationship with one’s body is a fundamental task for strengthening the first chakra, and rediscovering the joy of being human.
The more one’s energy is primarily cerebral, the more he or she needs to find physical grounding. Grounding is the process by which energy is contained so that excess charge can be collected into the ground. When we ground down, we get out of our heads and into our bodies.
“Excessive first chakra types need to discharge, let go, and shift from excessive stability to movement and flow.” – Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind
Some people attain physical anchoring and then remain stuck, unable to change and go with the flow of life. Outer manifestations of an excessive first chakra include obesity, hoarding and material fixation, fear of change, and addiction to security.
Movement is the healing catalyst recommended for energy that is stuck, or excessively grounded. Any sort of movement- exercise, purging, cleaning, making a shift- facilitates flow and release.
Whether the first chakra is deficient or excessive, healing is always accessible.
Ways to heal and balance Muladhara Chakra
☆ Listen to the body
Begin the healing process by paying attention to your body and what it is telling you at any given moment. Make note of how it feels after eating certain foods, for example. Acknowledge how your clothing feels on your skin. If you have been sitting for a while and your body starts to tell you it’s time for a break, go outside or do some stretching. When you start to yawn and feel groggy, take it as a cue to go to bed. When we fail to listen to our bodies for an extended period of time, we get sick. Paying attention to the messages from within are key for building grounding and stability.
We live in a world that is overly concerned with how the body looks at the expense of how it feels.
Our bodies are like cars, or any other physical possession. If our vehicles are not properly maintained and cared for, how can we expect to go far? The first step in building a better relationship with the body is learning how to listen to it. Any time we give love to our bodies, we heal the first chakra. In Yoga, we begin by observing the breath and any physical sensations that arise. Devoting 5 minutes to a body scan is a simple start.
☆ Tend to the mundane
When we diligently take care of often tedious, essential tasks, we ensure our survival and create conditions to thrive. For example, making sure there is enough money in the bank to pay rent is never fun, but it does build stability. Tending to survival in any way strengthens the root chakra. Other examples may be daily grooming, putting on sunscreen before we go outside, making meals each day, and cleaning the house. These may not be the most enjoyable tasks on your to-do list, but getting them done keeps anxiety in check and anchors us. Any sort of “work” is grounding.
I used to dislike cooking, so I would spend money regularly on food from restaurants or cafes. I was ridden with anxiety and experienced headaches and restless energy constantly. I began cooking more, as a result of the pandemic and living on a farm. At first it just felt very time-consuming, but with consistency I improved and began to enjoy it. I now experience more satisfaction and appreciation with each meal, as well as sustained energy and overall wellness.
Think of a beautiful garden, delicious meal, or even a work of art you enjoy. It didn’t just appear in thin air. Someone had to tend to details and use the body to bring the idea into physical existence. Taking the time to do the necessary fosters a connection to the physical world and builds stability.
☆ Get some physical exercise
Anatomically, The legs and feet correspond to the first chakra. They connect us to Earth and literally keep us rooted. When we have excessive energy, we can discharge it back to Earth through the legs and feet. I read somewhere that the arms and sense organs allow us to take in our surroundings, bringing the environment to us, while the legs and feet allow us to place ourselves in our environments.
Any sort of physical exercise is grounding, but working with the legs is especially recommended for building a physical foundation. Walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, yoga, and even golf are some examples. Add mindful breathing to your physical practice and you will experience even more grounding. For a simple start, practice standing firmly, barefoot if possible, with both feet evenly pressing into the Earth. Notice how this affects your energy and makes you feel.
☆ Make your space sacred
Yoga Sutra 2.33: “When faced with disturbing thoughts, think the opposite. If this is not possible, change one’s environment.” Paying attention to one’s space and how it affects thoughts, emotions, and sensations is important. If we are in any environment that is not stimulating or supportive, a change of scenery may be necessary. Your immediate environment includes your home, city of residence, and any living beings you come into contact with frequently.
If the space you inhabit is not doing any favors for you, how could you change things up so that it nourishes and provides? I know change can be scary, so do one thing at a time. Identify what you would like to be different, and what you could do now to make things better. Many people use this time of the year for Spring Cleaning. Feng Shui utilizes specific areas of the home for maximum harmony between individual and home environment.
Besides the immediate environment, the air we breathe in and the amount we go outside factor-into how rooted we feel. Without awareness of the Earth and how it affects us, how can we be expected to better care for the planet? Small actions will slowly build stability to bring back love and respect for the environment. Start by simply going outside for 10 minutes each day. Earthing is the act of walking barefoot on the ground to experience nurturing energy from Mother Earth.
☆ Face your fears
Many studies have been conducted and articles written to examine and address fear. Fear is a mechanism that tricks the brain into thinking it is safe, by replaying events that could go wrong. The more we let fear rule us, the more ungrounded we become. Learning how to work through fear is essential for experiencing growth and reclaiming one’s ability to relax and be present.
The key to eliminating any fear is to acknowledge where it came from, notice how the physical body reacts when faced with it, let the body express the energy in some way, and develop tools and resources for facing similar threats in the future. It takes time and commitment to get over fears, but avoiding them keeps us stuck in the past and hinders growth. Facing your fears in a safe way builds courage.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and supported by the Earth. We all belong here.
How can you balance out the Root Chakra more in your life? What type of Spring Cleaning does your environment need in order for you to thrive and feel better each day?
About the Author
Renee Williamson is a Blog Writer for The Love Yourself Foundation. She is a New Orleans native who currently resides in Austin, TX and works in Green Construction. She has a degree in Psychology and has studied and taught Yoga for the past 2 years. Renee enjoys traveling, hiking, dancing, cooking, reading, watching movies, and going to live performances of any kind. She believes nature is medicine and that respect for Mother Earth fosters self-respect and love for all beings.