How Yoga Helps Anxiety: The First Chakra (Root Chakra)

Background on Energy Flow through the body

Chakras are the invisible points through which energy flows in the body.  There are seven in total beginning with the root chakra at the base of your sitting bones moving straight upward through the crown of your head to the crown chakra.  Importantly, when one of these points is “blocked” and energy cannot flow through, the body shows negative mental and physical symptoms.  This blockage (or blockages) can be relieved through the yoga asanas, or poses, in addition to chants, affirmations and hand gestures (mudras).  These help to open and align the chakra center. I discuss the first chakra here as it relates to tempering anxiety.

The first three lower chakras are physical in nature: muladhara, svadhisthana and manipura (root, pelvic and naval).  These are responsible for your emotional health and physical identity.  Balancing the three is the key to boosting your confidence and managing anxiety. 

1st Chakra: Root

The first “root” chakra called Muladhara, is the basis from which the “Ida” channel (or nadhi) of energy flows.  It is the most foundational of the seven chakras and is the base from which our dormant energy connects with the world.  Located at the lowest point of the spinal column at the pelvic floor, the chakra keeps us grounded and connected to the earth and also links back to our primitive survival instincts of “fight or flight”.   For this reason, I like to focus on it along with the second and third chakras to keep open and in balance as all other chakras depend on this foundation.

Location: Pelvic floor area at the first three vertebrae

Color: Red

Element: Earth

Foods to help unblock: Root veggies (sweet potatoes, beets, onions and garlic), passionfruit, strawberries

When blocked, problems such as anxiety, depression, self-doubt, eating disorders, and restlessness will manifest in the body and physical symptoms such as lower back pain, immune system and reproductive problems may surface. When my anxiety is high, I look towards clearing my first chakra.  After researching the first chakra and the healing that can take place, I have incorporated some of the below into my daily and/or weekly workout routines.

Chanting

Chant the word “lam” while seated in Easy Pose before and after completing the asanas listed below.

Mudra/Hand Gesture

Jnana Mudra (Chin mudra) – Sit in Easy Pose on the floor or on a chair.  Place the tips of your index fingers in just below the tips of your thumbs, making a circle.  Keep the remaining three fingers on each hand outward and relaxed on the tops of your knees.  Belly breath for a few minutes or as long as you have time to relax.

Yoga Asanas to Open the First Chakra

Squats (Malasana)

Knee to Chest (Pavanamuktasana)

Eagle Pose

Bridge Pose

Warrior I and II

Chair Pose

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Kegel Exercises

Yoga Nidra

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