root chakra: a foundation for flowing chi
Humans are energy centers.
You may not feel like it after a long day at work, or a particularly trying school pick-up line, but you are shot through with powerful energy. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this invisible, animating force is called chi, and it flows through all living beings and objects.
In Hinduism, this elemental energy is called Kundalini or Shakti, a life force that lies coiled up in your body at the base of your spine. You may have heard of Kundalini yoga—this practice seeks to awaken the infinite potential energy in your body, stimulating your intuition, creativity, and mental clarity.
Picture a coil of energy that follows your nerves up your spine, ending at the top of your head. Kundalini follows this coil of energy, concentrating itself in energy centers called chakras, starting with the root chakra at the base of your spine, and ending at the top of your body with the crown chakra.
Energizing these chakras is a way to discover your chi and awaken your full potential. The chakras are where your energy is stored—so by spending time nurturing them, you vitalize your senses, strengthen your consciousness, and bolster your spirit.
Origin and symbolism of the root chakra
The root chakra is the first chakra, the initial stepping stone on the path to higher consciousness. The root chakra balances powerful yin and yang forces—it encapsulates your connection to Mother Earth, and is your spiritual foundation and the source of spiritual growth.
Picture the root chakra as the roots of a tree, hidden under the earth but drawing water and nutrients from the soil, nourishing the tree and its branches as it grows. The Kundalini, your spiritual energy, is in a state of deep slumber—but awakening the root chakra awakens and energizes the entire plant, setting the foundation for a journey toward knowledge and self-realization.
In addition, the root chakra is the center of your unconscious self. Awakening your unconsciousness, while it may be painful, is an essential step on the path toward self-knowledge. The root chakra is what separates humans from animals.
In Indian mythology, the main symbol of the root chakra is the elephant with seven trunks, a powerful being who represents prosperity and wisdom and carries Brahmā, the creator of all things. This being symbolizes the enormous wealth of knowledge that lies hidden within your inner being.
It is essential to start your journey through the chakras with the root chakra, because it provides a solid foundation for the chakras that follow.
Unblocking and healing the root chakra.
Certain negative forces can block your root chakra, making its energy more difficult to access and blocking the path toward spiritual healing. If your root chakra is blocked, you may experience symptoms related to your feeling of mental and physical groundedness and comfort, including:
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of self-assurance
- Feelings of doubt
- Back pain
- Mind-body disconnects
- Eating disorders
- Cold hands and feet
- Digestive discomfort
Anything that dislodges your sense of security can cause blockages, such as:
- Financial difficulties
- Neglect and abuse as a child or adult
- Emotionally unavailable partners
- A breakup or job loss
- A life-altering medical diagnosis
To heal and unblock your root chakra, use the healing practices below to access blocked emotions and knowledge and open your path toward spiritual awareness.
4 tools to heal and unblock your root chakra.
There are many different ways to awaken and heal your root chakra—choose the method that works best for you, or use a combination of methods based on your needs. Affirmations can be paired with healing stones, and meditation can be paired with yoga, for example. For all of these practices, find a quiet place and focus your intentions on the location of your root chakra, at the base of your spine.
Root chakra affirmations.
Find a quiet place, focus on the energy sitting at the base of your spine, and repeat these affirmations to awaken your root chakra and create a deep sense of groundedness and security:
- I am here and I am safe
- I am nourished by the earth
- I am grounded
- I release my doubts and fears
- I am at home in my body
- I am financially secure
- I have what I need
Root chakra meditation.
The sense that is associated with the root chakra is smell. Diffuse soothing, grounding essential oils, such as sandalwood, cedar, clove, ginger, or rosemary, and try this meditation (find an expanded version here):
Close your eyes. Find yourself in a comfortable sitting or lotus position. With your spine straight and shoulders back, breath deeply, relaxing your muscles. Bring your attention to your root chakra, right below your tailbone. Picture a red glow, slowly expanding to encompass the base of your spine, and breath deeply as you focus on this warm, relaxed sensation for 3-5 minutes. When you feel ready, slowly open your eyes.
Root chakra yoga poses.
Try these grounding yoga poses to connect with your root chakra:
- Padmasana, or lotus pose—yoga’s most basic sitting position
- Pavanamuktasana, or knee-to-chest pose—lying on the floor, extend your legs and slowly draw one knee at a time to your chest, then hold and gently release
- Malasana, or squatting pose—stand with your legs a bit wider than hip-width, then lower yourself to squatting position, opening your knees with your elbows and pressing your hands together
Root chakra healing crystals.
If crystals and healing stones are your thing, collect these powerful root chakra stones and keep them close to your body. The root chakra is associated with the color red, and these stones evoke the primal powers of the earth and provide protection:
- Red Jasper is the stone of vibrancy and endurance, awakening your chi and your motivation and connecting you with your inner power.
- Black Tourmaline provides protection, shielding you from toxicity.
- Jet is formed from fossilized wood. It evokes the cycle of life, and dispels heavy energies by grounding them to the earth.
- Red Carnelian is worn for inner strength and courage, and can help you stay rooted in the physical world while you seek to expand your spiritual boundaries.
The seven chakras—from root to crown.
The root chakra is only one of seven in the most commonly used chakra system. Now that you know all there is to know about the foundation of the chakras, the root chakra, learn about how the seven chakras work together:
- Mūlādhāra—the root chakra. This chakra sits at the base of the spine and is associated with earth, grounding, stability, security, smell, male sexuality, and basic human potential.
- Svādhiṣṭhāna—the sacral chakra. This chakra is centered in the pelvic area. It’s linked to water, creativity, taste, desire, pleasure, emotions, female sexuality, and wellbeing.
- Maṇipūra—the navel chakra. This chakra in the belly of your stomach is associated with fire, determination, personal power, laughter, joy, anger, and sight.
- Anāhata—the heart chakra. Of course, the heart chakra, centered in your chest, is associated most directly with love. But it’s also linked to air, wisdom, patience and equilibrium, compassion, touch, and pleasure.
- Viśuddha—the throat chakra. This chakra at the base of your throat transcends the four basic elements—earth, water, fire, and air. It’s linked to life and sound, and aids communication, expression, understanding, and hearing.
- Ājñā—the third-eye chakra. Continuing to rise up the body, you’ll find your third-eye chakra centered between your eyebrows. This chakra is associated with time and light, and influences perception, intuition, imagination, and self-mastery.
- Sahasrāra—the crown chakra. This is the point where your internal energy seeks to unite with the Supreme Being, the larger force that flows through all life. As such, it’s associated with space, thought, union, bliss, and empathy.
In traditional Hindu practice, there is one additional chakra, called the Bindu, located at the back of your head. The chakras are each bound to certain emotions and attributes, but they’re also linked to nerve centers in our bodies!
Practices such as yoga, reiki, and meditation can help you awaken your chakras and balance your internal energy. The ultimate goal is bliss, an awakening of your inner consciousness and awareness of the energy that flows through the universe.
Energize the root chakra to discover your chi.
To connect with the divine energy and raw potential that lies inside you, start by awakening your root chakra. Exploring and energizing your chakras is one way of many to discover your chi and live up to your fullest potential. As you heal and charge your chakras, you’ll feel more powerful in your personal life and more at peace with the world around you.