Today, September 23, 2015 is the Autumn Equinox. It marks one of two days of the year when the length of day and night are about equal. It also marks the end of summer and beginning of autumn here in the northern hemisphere.
With the theme of equality in mind, it is a good time to reflect on how to find more balance in your life. For our local Busan event which happened on Sunday the 20th, I taught a special root chakra class to find balance in the first chakra – muladhara chakra. I felt inspired by the colors of the changing leaves focusing on the color red.
Root chakra is the first chakra and is characterized by the element of earth, and represents security, its color is red. Living abroad as expats, it can be common to have feelings of uncertainty about the next step. Most of us here in Korea come on a short-one-year visa that is either extended or left behind for travel or settlement elsewhere. It’s figuring out which choice to make that can leave us feeling uncertain about the future, which can equate to an imbalance in the root chakra. No matter what your situation is, times of feeling ungrounded are sure to arise here and there.
Yoga poses to help ground you are poses that are quite simply near to the ground – seated postures. Muladhara chakra is located at the base of the pelvic floor, focusing on that area during your practice is helpful, as well as grounding through the feet in standing poses. Here are a few poses to practice if you feel you need to dig your roots in a bit deeper.
- Sukhasana Start seated in a simple cross-legged position. Shift around until you find a comfortable position. If you have tight hips, then lift your sit bones up onto something to give yourself a little more height, such as a yoga block, blanket, or pillow. However, sitting directly on the floor will give you a better sense of grounding. Use your hands to feel heavier on the mat, with the thumbs inside and just below the hip bones, apply pressure with the palms to the top of the thigh to push yourself deeper into the mat. Close your eyes and breathe.
- Vrksasana Ok, so this one’s a standing balancing pose, but it makes total sense to do when focusing on the root chakra, I mean of course you have to do Tree Pose when balancing the root chakra! Stand firmly in your standing foot and raise your other foot with control to a comfortable position for you. Keep rooting through the standing foot as you allow your torso to lift, if it feels good, lift your arms towards the sky.
- Janu Sirsasana After performing a standing sequence to warm up, or a few sun salutations, bring yourself back to the floor for more seated postures. Just as the temperature drops with the season change, so too might your yoga practice, moving from more of a yang to a yin. Sit on the mat with both legs extended long in front of you, draw your right foot into the left inner thigh and let the right knee fall over to the right. Use your finger tips to lift your chest, then on an exhale begin to fold over your extended left leg. Place your hands where you can reach (it is totally not necessary to hold the foot) and breathe as you let the head relax. Come up on an inhale and perform on the second side for balance.
- Upavisthakonasana From the last pose, splay your legs wide out in front of you. Flex through your heels to keep your leg muscles engaged. Be sure that the toes and knees always point up to the sky together. If your hamstrings are tight, you might find relief by placing two small, rolled towels or blankets under each knee. Again, find length through the torso by lifting into your fingertips behind you. Stay there, while feeling completely supported and grounded in the mat, or begin to fold forward. Stay on the hands, go to the forearms, or release onto your belly. Stay and breathe. Come up slowly on an inhalation when ready.
- Baddha Konasana From the wide leg fold, pull the soles of your feet together for bound angle pose. Let your knees fall apart. With your feet away from you in a diamond shape (tight hips) or heels drawn in close to the body (open hips,) find your open chest and stay or fold. Breathe into the pose focusing on the pelvic floor.
My final thought on the root chakra is to get into nature. The element of earth is associated with the root chakra, so spending more time in nature can help you rebalance. After your yoga practice you might choose to take a short meditation focusing on the color red, a strong tree rooted securely in the ground, or with eyes closed envision a glowing red sunset or the changing colored leaves, as I asked my students to do in Savasana at the recent Autumn Equinox Event.