By: Monica Ott
As we come out of our Thanksgiving food coma, hopefully we’ve had some time to slow down and reflect on the past month. Thanksgiving teaches us to be grateful for things in our lives, but this past November has made it difficult even for the most disciplined yogi to find peace. Since the presidential election, people are feeling a sense of loss, ‘uprooting’ and disconnect from themselves and each other. Even if things have been going really well for you, there is no denying that there is a somber and rajasic (very active) energy taking hold of the world. This fall/’vata’ (wind) season has swept us up and carried us away. The question is, ‘how do we safely land back down on the ground and connect back to Mother Earth?’
First thing’s first, we have to start back at the root. In other words, we have to energize our root chakra, the first energy center located at the base of the spine/pelvic floor. The first chakra, Muladhara (Mula: root, Adhara: support, foundation) is the starting point of our spiritual growth as an individual. When this chakra is strong, we feel a deep sense of connection to ‘home,’ family, our innate instincts, shelter, food, stability, and safety. It’s also important to note, that when our root chakra is imbalanced, we feel anxious, fearful, and mistrustful. Our safety net has disappeared and we are unsure of how to find our way back home.
One can say that the past month has really shown everyone’s ‘true colors,’ but the way I look at it is that people have gotten pulled away from their colors; their rainbow of chakras. We’ve allowed ourselves to become too attached to things that are out of our control. The outcome of the election was a big loss for people, almost like a death of a loved one or a heartbreak. People were unearthed without a direction that ‘everything’s gonna be alright.’ Whatever ‘side’ you were on, the root of the issue was really just a feeling that the person you elected was going to make you feel safe and stable in your life. When it didn’t turn out in some people’s favor, the world panicked and got defensive. Instead of taking time to process, people immediately lashed out not only at strangers, but also at their friends. It was unsettling to watch on social media how many people said “If you voted for ‘so and so,’ then I don’t want to know you.” The need to take control was very high, but there are things that happen in the universe that are sometimes out of our control. What we can control is how we feel and how we react. In times of major change and stress, yoga becomes a powerful tool to get out of the ‘black & white’ hole and move towards our rainbow again, particularly our root chakra.
Here are three ways to find your way home and energize the Muladhara Chakra:
1. Connect with your body. Find Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width. Place your hands on your lower belly and close the eyes. You can find a gentle rock side to side and really feel how the bottoms of the feet connect with the earth. Imagine that you have roots growing out of the bottoms of the feet and down into the earth. Feel the strength of the legs stabilizing the body so even as you sway side to side, you don’t feel like you’re going to fall over. You can even imagine the color of the root chakra, red, rising up from the earth up to your pelvic floor on your inhale and back down to the feet to the earth on the exhale. Do this for a few minutes. Another great asana (posture) is crocodile pose, Makarasana. Lay down on your belly with your hands stacked underneath of your forehead with the elbows out wide. The legs can be wider than the hips with the toes pointed out. Feel the comfort of the earth supporting your body as you settle in deeper with the breath. You’ll begin to find your natural diaphragmatic breathing as you inhale, the belly expands and even pushes into the floor and as you exhale, the belly pulls in towards the spine. At the end of your exhalation, feel free to take a slight pause and if you’re familiar with mula bandha, you can engage it. Release it on the next inhalation. Repeat several times.
2. Connect with your mind. Take 5-10 minutes a day for meditation. Even the simple act of finding stillness will start to relieve stress from the brain. Find a comfortable seat and start by focusing on the root chakra at the base of the spine. In your mind’s eye, imagine the color red moving from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head and back down the front of the body to the pelvic floor. Notice how the breath starts to connect to this imagery. If you’d like, you can switch directions with each breath.
3. Connect with your spirit. Chant or sing the seed sound for the root chakra, LAM (pronounced LUM). You can do this sitting down or even laying on your back with the knees bent and feet on the floor. If you can find a low ‘C’ note, you can chant on that or just sing in your lower register. Keep chanting and elongating the sound of LAM. When you finish, listen to the silence and feel the vibration in the root.
Other ways that help to find a sense of comfort and nourish your roots are eating warm foods or drinking warm liquids. In the cold season, I love to drink Chai tea. The spices of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and even turmeric all create a warming and anti-inflammatory effect which helps the mind to focus. Lastly, I like to find an object that grounds me. This can be a special item like a stone or a piece of jewelry or even a pet. You can hold onto this item and meditate or find some calm by connecting with your cat or dog.