There are many cultures that conceive of an energetic system which runs the body, but the Yogic Chakra System is said to be 4000-5000 years old. Chakra translates loosely to mean ‘wheel’ from Sanskrit, but it more accurately describes a vortice of rotating energy. Some chakra systems contain twelve primary chakras, other fewer, but they refer to a map of the energy circulating through the body, primarily through the spinal column. Each chakra is situated near an endocrine gland that is responsible for regulating hormonal reactions in the body. The chakras also act as translators of energy. They assimilate energy from surrounding influences, including your own emotions and thoughts and the chakras of others. In the yogic conceptualization of the chakra system there are seven primary energy vortexes.
These regulators of energy are named from Sanskrit: Mooladhara Chakra, Swadhistana Chakra, Manipura Chakra, Anahata Chakra, Vishuddhi (a) Chakra, Ajna Chakra, and Sahasrara Chakra in order from the root of the spine to the crown of the head. The regulation of these chakras is vitally important to your physical health and your spiritual progression. The chakras affect the heart rate, metabolism, your body shape, thoughts, behavior, and physical ailments or addictions, or the lack thereof. In order to stimulate the awakening of each chakra, there are yogic practices designed to assimilate the life force, and then to direct it into a balanced vortex of energy, or chakra, so that it might aid in awakening a higher consciousness. The first of these to be awakened is Mooladhara Chakra.
Mula is a Sanskrit word meaning root or foundation. Swami Satyananda Saraswati tells us that the transcendental nature basis of physical nature is moola prakriti. We all have to evolve from some place, and for most of us that includes our physical, gross nature. Our evolution as a human body with more subtle energetic attributes begins in the ‘root’ of our being. This chakra connects us to all that is physical and earthly.
Location of the Mooladhara Chakra
There is often confusion about the location of the root chakra. It differs very slightly from men to women. In men, it rests “slightly inside the perineum, midway between the scrotum and the anus. It is the inner aspect of that nerve complex which carries all kinds of sensations and is immediately connected with the testes.” In the female body, Mooladhara chakra is located near the cervix, on the posterior side.
The root chakra is also associated with what is referred to as a psychic knot. Specifically, Mooladhara chakra is known as the brahma granthi. This is like a knot of energy in the body. When this knot of energy is released, it allows us to enter Brahma Loka (Nirmanakaya). It also purifies and balances energy in the urogential region similar to the effects of vajroli mudra.
In Buddhist teachings that were influenced by Vedic teachings, nirmanakavya is the physical body of a Buddha, that manifest in the world to teach dharma. The Buddha descends into physical form in order to help all other beings reach enlightenment. Though spiritual in nature, this body is still subject to sickness, old age and death. Tibetan yogis call this the tulku (from the Pail language) and state also, that enlightened beings consciously chose a physical form, though it is subject to the same disease and decay as the rest of us, in order to bring higher consciousness into more prevalence.
Once we choose the enlightened being’s path, the energy from Mooladhara chakra can be released. There are several yogic practices prescribed for this endeavor. These practices should be followed with the help of a seasoned yogi, however, as awakening the root chakra can be accompanied by some interesting sensations and physical side-effects. The body needs to be purified with diet and the advice of a sound guru in order to proceed.
For now, we will begin with the kriyas (purifying actions):
Moola Bandha (perineal contraction) – and Moola Bandha with breath retention – Moola Bandha is one of the first energetic locks we learn to practice. Yoga Journal recently described the bandha as such, “On a physical level, mula bandha consists of a contraction, a muscular lifting-up in the floor of the pelvis. Although the pelvis itself is primarily a bony structure supported with ligaments, the pelvic floor consists of muscle fibers and fascia (connective tissue). These tissues intersect and overlap in complex ways; for our purposes, we can divide the pelvic floor into three muscular levels, each of which can be sensed and moved separately.” Iyengar defines it more simply, “a posture where the body from the anus to the navel is contracted and lifted up toward the spine.” It is not an easy practice to do on the first try. Most of us only have awareness of these muscles when eliminating, if we have awareness at all. There are some great diagrams of human anatomy online which will show you the exact point to focus on when beginning a contraction. With practice, as with all kriyas, this will be refined.
Nasikagra Drishti (nose tip gazing) – the tip of the nose is directly connected to awakening the root chakra. This practice is also known as "Agochari Mudra". It is an auspicious form of Tratak (concentrated gazing). Early practice can cause a headache if you practice to earnestly or too long, so begin in a comfortable seated position and only try thiry second intervals when you begin. You will feel as if you are going cross-eyed, but ideally, your gaze should become softened as you gaze toward the nose tip.
Ideally, these kriyas are accompanied with mindfulness training focusing on the root chakra. Contemplating the energy residing dormant therein can also help it to awaken. All practices should be taken slowly and systematically, in order to allow kundalini shakti (the energy dormant in the root chakra) to rise through a clean and clear channel, i.e. the rest of your nadis are somewhat cleansed and opened through asana practice and other methods described in Hatha Yoga Pradipika or in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Eventually, an awakening of the root chakra will lead to enlightenment.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Kundalini Tantra. Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar India, ISBN: 81-85787-15-8
About the Author:
2011 Christina Sarich runs http://www.yogaforthenewworld.blogspot.com