Finding ground. A sense of being grounded.
Last month I wrote about yoga for pelvic health, focusing on the area most often referred to as the pelvic floor and I was asked about the connection between the pelvic floor and the root chakra in yoga.
Chakra is a Sanskrit word that’s often defined as wheel but the word can also translate as centre, group, circle, or family. As with so many Sanskrit words, to understand the meaning we look at the context in which it’s used and from the ancient yogic texts we can see it’s used to refer to focal points, locations in the body to be focused on, in other words, to be paid attention to.
The root chakra is an English interpretation of the Sanskrit word muladhara which has come to be one of the most well know chakras in yoga. It’s not a direct translation, muladhara can be broken down into mula, meaning something like “root,” and adhara, meaning “support” or “base.” We might think about this area of the body as supporting our roots, allowing us to feel more grounded and centered both literally and energetically.
You may have seen modern depictions of the 7 Chakra System and noticed that they are located in a vertical line from the pelvic base to somewhere just above the head.
Physically when we think about the root chakra we are usually thinking about the area around the base of the pelvis, the tailbone, pubic bone, sitting bones, and the pelvic floor. Working with the 7 Chakra System we include everything below this point, so we are including the legs and the feet. When we consider this area of the body, it’s easy to see why this chakra is connected to a sense of being grounded.
In the context of mindfulness, ‘grounding’ refers to the ability to return to the present moment with sustained attention. When we feel ungrounded or off centre, it’s very hard to tune in and connect to ourselves. We may feel distracted, find it hard to focus, our relationship to time may feel distorted and it can be difficult to know what to do to feel better.
Grounding techniques help us to reconnect to the present and feel calmer and safer in the here and now. Grounding anchors us, allowing us the headspace to more easily tune in and work out what our needs are and what we can do to meet them.
In yoga, we often connect to the root chakra to help us feel more grounded. Techniques range from the simple, for example pressing the soles of your feet more firmly into the ground, consciously sinking your sitting bones down into your seat, becoming more aware of the weight of your body sinking down through the bones of your legs, to the more involved, for example, meditation or pranayama (breathing) techniques that strengthen the pelvic muscles using the action of mula bandha which translates as the root lock or valve.
If you are interested and want to know more about the root chakra, please do get in touch. I am always more than happy to talk about yoga 🙂
Take good care of yourself, Clair.