I have decided, like many others before me, to take a journey through the chakras, beginning at the base and moving upwards. In some ways, this seems logical and desirable, breaking up the human anatomy and experience into digestible and clearly defined spaces and segments. However, a part of me feels the need to rebel and remind us all that humans are NOT for the most part logically sequenced nor easily dissectable. What I am trying to say is that although I have broken up my explanation in this way in order to make it palatable and perhaps more easy to understand, the chakras work together. They ebb and flow. Just as the various systems in your body work together (digestive, nervous, endocrine, lymphatic, etc) your energetic aspects are working in synch as well. What impacts one will have and effect on the rest, and so on and so forth.
With that out of the way, onto muladhara! Some info, asanas, pranayama and even a bandha! Ooh!
The root chakra starts us on our upward journey of kundalini rising through the spine! It is associated with being grounded, a sense of being, materialism, animal instincts, anger and security. This energy centre relates to the sense of smell, and for that reason the khestram (trigger point) is the nose tip. If you hear your yoga teacher asking you to bring your awareness to the tip of your nose, this is a subtle way of engaging with muladhara.
Kundalini energy resides here, dormant when in its lowest state. The amrit energy from sahasrara descends sushumna towards muladhara, pooling here if unused. The aim is to shift the energy upwards, in order to feel more uplifted and vibrant. As the energy pools in our lower chakras, we tend to become lethargic, frustrated, demotivated, frustrated and even angry and depressed. Through the following simple yogic practices, we begin to lift our energy and our spirits.
Mula bandha, or the root lock, is an excellent method to stimulate and bring awareness to the muladhara chakra. The root chakra, Muladhara resides in the pubic bowl, at the bottom of the spine. For women, this is around the cervix, 2 inshes forward and up from the tailbone. For men it is just above the scrotum. Mula bandha is performed by tugging upwards on this area, at the centre of the pelvic floor. Beginners should practice mula bandha while inhaling, and releasing on the exhale. This pulsing motion will help familiarise the practitioner with the location and sensation, allowing them to hold for longer periods of time with practice. The pulsation also helps to “pump” prana and energy upwards, to be used in the higher chakras. As with all bandhas, which hold the energy in certain areas and can be powerful tools in your practice, start SLOWLY and build over time as you feel more comfortable.
Mula bandha can be engaged at any time during your practice, especially if you feel the need for more core strength. The pelvic floor is an oft forgotten but incredibly important core muscle, lending stability and improved balance.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Stand with feet planted firmly on the floor, hip width (2 fist-widths) apart. Ground into all 4 corners of your feet. Shift back and forth, left to right before coming to find your stable centre.
Take your knees off the lock and hug all the muscles to the bone, zipping up and imagining you draw energy from the earth below.
Tailbone extends towards the floor, crown extends towards the sky. Roll your shoulders up, back and down your spine away from your ears. Bring life to your fingertips.
Inhale deeply and exhale fully. Either with eyes closed or open, draw your awareness and your line of sight to your nose tip. Focus on the sensation of ground beneath you and the sound of your breath.
Butterfly (not for knee injuries or strain)
Begin sitting on the floor, with soles of the feet pressed together. Allow your knees to drop out to the sides. Sit up tall.
Grasp your feet with your hands and begin to bounce your knees up and down gently. Repeat for 5 breaths. Allow your knees to relax.
Inhale to sit up tall again, then exhale while you bend forward from the hips. You can press your elbows into your knees to get a further stretch in the groin. Spine should be as long as possible, chest nice and open, aiming your navel towards your feet. Allow your neck to be a natural extension of the spine.
Take a few breaths here, closing your eyes and engaging mula bandha if this feels right to you.
Inhale to sit back up again.
Chakki Chalanasana (shakti bandha – can be powerful emotional cleanser!)
Sit with legs as far apart as they will comfortably go. You can have straight legs, firming thighs into the floor, or bent knees, actively pulling the toes towards the face. Option here to sit on a cushion or folded blanket to ease the angle.
Inhale to sit up tall. Extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height, with hands clasped together and pointed like charlie’s angels. Exhaling, turn towards your left foot, fold forward and extend as far as possible, sweep around in a big circle towards your right foot.
Inhale to sit up and pull backwards, turning once more to the left foot to exhale. Exhale as you bend and circle forwards, inhale as you sit up and circle back.
Imagine you are stirring a big honey pot between your legs. Continue to stir in a clockwise motion, keeping arms straight.
Repeat 5 times clockwise, 5 times anticlockwise.
Virbhadrasana (Warrior 1, 2 and 3)
All the warriors are good for mulabandha, but I especially love warrior one. Begin in tadasana. Step left foot back towards the back of the mat, angled out at 45*. Feet are on train tracke, not in a parallel line. This gives your hips room to face forwards to the front of the mat.
Inhale arms straight up overhead, then exhale to bend front knee to a right angle over your ankle. Front knee should be tracking towards your 2nd toe and not extended forward of the ankle. If it has bent forward, take a wider stance and move your back leg farther behind.
Remember to square your hips to the front, ground into the outer edge of your back foot, and relax your shoulders away from the ears, squeezing the shoulder blades together.
Spend a few breaths here, playing with mula bandha, perhaps rising a little on the inhale, grounding further down on the exhale. Breathing should be smooth and even. You can practice ujjayi breath here and again imagine drawing up vital energy from the earth below, flowing upwards from the soles of your feet to your finger tips.
To come out of the pose, inhale, straightening the front leg. Step the back leg forward to meet the front one in tadasana and join the palms at the heart for one breath. Repeat by stepping the other foot back.
Finish your practice with a few full yogic breaths, breathing through the nose. Inhale deeply into the belly, then fill the chest. Exhale deeply, feel the breath leave your body like a wave. Inhale to fill abdomen and lower back, up into chest and shoulders. Exhale: chest falls, belly falls. Be with your breath.