This month we're focusing on grounding - growing and stabilizing our roots; connecting to the earth and ourselves. We're thrilled to have YEG yogi Michele Theoret contributing her piece 'From Roots We Rise' on the blog today. She's even included a 75 minute video to put her words to work. Michele is the woman behind Empowered Yoga, a local company offering teacher trainings and workshops, not to mention a wicked blog an other online resources. Get empowered! www.empoweredyoga.ca
FROM ROOTS WE RISE
The root chakra (muladahara) is the first chakra and is located at the base of the spine (lowest point in the pelvis). Muladhara is associated with earth element, instinctual desires, stability, safety and infancy; it is your survival center. Our very existence depends on our ability to relay on external and material support, therefore the sympathetic fight-or-flight response is initiated from the root chakra.
Our roots are our connection to the earth and therefore serve to ground us. Grounding orients us in space and time. It allows us to SHOW UP in the moment, detaching from future based expectations and fears as well as past retreats and defeats. To be strongly grounded allows us to stand on our own two feet and face what is in front of us without flinching, to remain anchored to our truth in the face of opposition. From security we can then safely explore the idea of movement and creativity; only when we feel safe and grounded can we learn to let go and flow. As we lift the energy from the roots up into the pelvis (much like a plant draws water up its trunk) we create inertia, momentum and desire, allowing us to become un-stuck as opposed to uprooted, propelling us forward in the direction of our goals. We cannot simply create things with our minds, the downward flowing “rooting” energy is required for manifestation.
Mulabandha is a technique for arousing the powerful grounding/manifesting energy. It is located at the root of our spine, in the perineum. Hui Yin, the first point on the Conception Vessel from Traditional Chinese Medicine is also located here. Mulabandha or “root lock” is for the most part over engaged and over-emphasized. Often language like “do a Kegal” or “contract and lift your anus” is used. In a society that is plagued with, control, material possessions, digestive issue and sexual dysfunction, this practice is not necessarily helpful. The effective usage of mulabandha comes from the SUBTLE lifting inside the pelvis, combined with subtle contractions of the muscles surrounding the outside of the pelvis and the gentle cinching effect of the transverse abdominals. When mulabandha is engaged in this way it becomes the internal “safety net” that calms the fight or flight response through stability while drawing the energy upwards into the second chakra to further energize the pelvis.
The proper functioning of the roots requires a “dynamic balance” of both sthira/strength and sukha/flexibility. Range of motion, suppleness and joint health requires the community of muscles surrounding the pelvis and legs to turn on when we need them and off when we don’t need them. When specific muscles get lazy, other muscles get cranky and overworked. Stretching may only aggravate the problem. It is important to incorporate both strength/yang-based exercises as well as well as stretching/yin based exercises. The following roots sequence begins with some effective awakening exercises for the legs and hips followed by sequences to strengthen and invigorate and postures to release and unwind.