• By Amanda Blackburn.

How to ground yourself!

The Root Chakra is especially important, as it is the base of our whole chakra system. It is the first chakra and it incorporates all the qualities to maintain existence in an orderly fashion, including being constant and stable. It is drawn to the simple activity of staying alive. It focuses on shelter, structure, stability, security and patience. The root is where we find the ability to manifest dreams. The first Chakra, the Root Chakra is situated in the perineum at the base of the spine. The Sanskrit name for the Root Chakra is Muladhara. It is associated with the earth element and directly linked to our ability to dig in and feel firmly rooted in our lives. In order to grow to your full potential, you need a solid foundation. When our Root Chakra is uprooted the energy cannot flow throughout our body. Imagine a tree that has grown in a certain climate, in specific soil, with fixed amounts of sun, wind and water. If you uprooted this tree and tried to plant it elsewhere, out of its adaptability zone, it would fail to thrive or die. The healthy Root Chakra is buoyant and flexible. It is adaptable and can remain grounded through changes. We all face times in life that challenge our resources and try our patience. During some point in our life, we have been either uprooted or affected by the hardships of life. Muladhara controls the fight-or-flight reaction that triggers the adrenaline cortex. This function simulates the flow of adrenaline into the blood when we are under attack, putting us into survival mode. The Root Chakra is associated with the kidneys, blood and the skeletal system. Physical problems arise when this chakra is blocked. These problems turn into conditions that affect the feet, knees, and hips, including arthritis, kidney stones, osteoporosis, bone problems, and autoimmune deficiency conditions. We can control and balance our Root Chakra by cultivating a deep sense of inner security. Yoga, meditation, affirmation and movement of any kind that activates the legs and feet, any form of activity that is grounding physical, and demands presence can also help. To enable a strong Root Chakra we must realise that the past has no hold over us, we are free to make our own interpretation of the events in our lives. We can all try harder and take a stand for ourselves and persevere. If our Root Chakra is blocked by constrictions it dictates how we feel life needs to be. We are pulled down by the weight of tradition, family values, and religious precepts. Remember we are far more than our family upbringing, our schooling, or our religious beliefs. Part of healing the Root Chakra is to eliminate a sense of difference. When we open the Root Chakra we anchor our spirit to manifest unity, we learn to honour ourselves. Loving and taking care of ourselves is how we become stronger. Learning to listen and trust our needs and paying attention to what is good, wholesome, and nourishing for us keeps us grounded. This helps release the negativity from our lives so we can live simply, honestly and with integrity. Healing our roots is learning that we can do more than our parents did and be more than they were able to be. When we broaden our scope we expand our possibilities so life grows rather than narrows. By taking care of our Root Chakra we become the best we can be by developing inner qualities that the Root Chakra stands for, we can adapt, make changes, and live creatively. Meditation and physical activities help the Root Chakra flourish keeping life vibrant and sustainable. Yoga, movement of any kind that activates the legs and feet, any form of activity that is grounding, physical, and demands presence. We can develop a healthy Root Chakra when we affirm our right to a good life. This comes when we honour who we are, beyond any limiting identifications that define us by race, age, religion, or nationality. As we affirm ourselves, we strengthen our attachment to life and open the space for it to be fulfilled through us. Below are some Root Chakra strengthening and grounding yoga poses. I have also included some affirmations to practice alongside the poses: Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. Yoga is very adaptable and should be practised without ego. If you need to use adaptations, like a yoga block or a pillow, if it helps then do use it. If you have any medical concerns, have recently given birth, talk with your doctor before practising any of these yoga moves. Mountain pose (Tadasana)

Mountain pose (Tadasana) is the basis for many standing Asanas. Tadasana allows the body and consciousness to integrate the experience of the preceding Asana and to prepare for the next. It improves posture and, when practised regularly, can help reduce back pain. This pose strengthens the thighs, knees, ankles, abdomen, and buttocks. It is also helpful for relieving sciatica and for reducing the effects of flat feet. How to perform: • Come to a standing position with the feet together, inseams of your feet parallel. Choose a position of stability making sure your feet are evenly spaced so your weight is balanced. • Lift your toes, spread them wide and release to the mat making sure to equal the weight into the heels and balls of your feet. Keep your legs straight but also keep a little softness around your knees. • Engage your quadriceps muscles in the front of your thighs to draw your kneecaps upwards. Try to maintain engaged the whole time you are in the pose. Breathing is relaxed. When you hold this pose set an intention, tell yourself, you are strong and you are grounded. Visualise your roots, feel them securely rooted, feel the energy this creates in your spine, feel the warm rush of energy throughout your body. Garland pose (Malasana)

Garland pose challenges the mechanics of the entire body. This yoga pose is great for grounding yourself, making it one of my favourites poses for opening and revitalising the Root Chakra. When you regularly practice Malasana you will gain mobility and stability in the ankles, knees, hips, pelvis, and spine. How you are able to perform this yoga pose depends on your body proportions. Those with long torsos and/or short legs will likely find Malasana to be a little more accessible, while those with shorter torsos and/or longer legs may have to work at it a bit longer. How to perform: • Begin by standing at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), with your arms at your sides. Step your feet about as wide as your mat. Keep the upper and lower spine lengthened. • Bend your knees and lower your hips, coming into a squat. Separate your thighs so they are slightly wider than your torso, but keep your feet as close together as possible. Press your palms together to create resistance and deepen the posture. • Lengthen through the top of your crown and sink your tailbone toward the floor. On each inhale, feel your chest expand and spine lengthen. On each exhale, feel your hips sink deeper. When you hold Garland pose, inhale and visualise red energy flowing throughout your body. This red energy fills you with strength, courage, determination and splendour. Tell yourself you are strong and brave. Standing forward fold (Uttanasana)

Uttansana gives your back, hips, calves, and hamstrings a good stretch. It calms and quiets the mind and relieves anxiety. Forward folds are good for your entire being - mind, body and soul. How to perform; • Stand in Mountain pose. Feel the ground support you, stand tall and confident but keep your knees slightly soft. Inhale as you raise your arms. Feel strong and grounded. • As you exhale, engage your thighs, pull the belly in and up deep from the pelvic floor and bend forward, hinging from the hips. • Place your fingertips on the floor in front of your feet. Alternatively, place your fingertips next to your feet, or hold onto the back of your ankles or calves. • Squeeze your inner thighs together as you press your heels into the floor. Let your head hang, keeping the neck relaxed. Lengthen your spine as you inhale. Soften deeper into the pose as you exhale. When you hold this pose allow yourself to relax, do not push or force this pose. Relax forwards, let go of any tension in your neck, back and shoulders. Soften your knees slightly. Let your mind relax folding forward to let it all go. Warrior II pose (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II is a standing yoga pose that enhances strength, stability, and concentration. It’s such a powerful stretch for the chest, groins and legs. Virabhadrasana II increases stamina, can relieve backaches and stimulates healthy digestion. This is a deep hip-opening pose that strengthens the muscles in the thighs and buttocks. How to perform; • Stand on your mat and slide your right foot to the top of your mat, and your left foot 3-4 feet behind you. Point your right toes straight forward, and your left foot about parallel to the back of your mat. Draw an imaginary line from your right toes, to right heel, to the left arch. • Bend your right knee (stack it over your right ankle) Press equally into your feet. Turn your shoulders to the left side of your mat. Keep your torso upright, shoulders stacked over your hips, and extend your arms out wide, parallel to the ground, palms face down. • Gaze straight ahead, or turn your gaze to your right-hand fingertips. Keep your breath even as you hold for up to 60 seconds. Repeat this affirmation as you hold, “ I stand for justice, truth and love.” Inhale to straighten your front leg and release the posture. • Repeat on the other side repeating this affirmation, “ I am grateful for the challenges that have taught me who I truly am.” Wide legged forward bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Wide-Legged Forward Bend pose lengthens the spinal column and stretches the backs of the legs and the back muscles. This pose opens the muscles of the groin and lower back, giving the Root Chakra an opportunity to release its vitality into your body. How to perform; • Stand in mountain pose, step the legs 3-4 feet apart. With a flat back exhale forward bringing the palms to the floor under the shoulders. If the hands do not reach the floor, either walk the feet wider apart or place yoga blocks under the hands. • Use your arms to pull your forehead down towards the floor whilst bending your elbows back. Root your feet, lengthening your legs and pressing your hips up toward the ceiling. • Feel your spine being pulled in an opposite direction as you press your head down and lift your hips up. Breathe and hold for 3-8 breaths. Feel supported from the ground, feel supported from within. • To release, reach your arms out to your sides and slowly inhale back up keeping your arms strong but your shoulders relaxed. Child’s pose (Balasana)

Child’s pose is a kneeling Asana, it helps release tension in the chest, back, and shoulders. This Asana helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It’s the perfect pose to let your whole body relax. Notice how it feels to be completely supported by the ground beneath you, and welcome this balance of surrender and support. How to perform; • Start off your Balasana by sitting down on your knees. Keep your feet close together and your big toes touching each other. • Let your bum rest on the top of your heels. You can choose to keep your legs together or separate them, but keep your big toes touching each other. • Tuck your tailbone in and inhale, exhale as you fold your upper body forward until your forehead touches the floor in front of you. Keep your spine and neck in alignment with the top of your head pointing forward. • Reach your arms forward with your palms facing down or softly rest them alongside your body with your palms facing up. Relax your neck and your shoulders. Expand your torso with every inhale and with every exhale, let go of all the tensions in your body. Stay here for as long as you feel. Feel your body support you, thank your body for helping you through, believe in your body, believe in yourself. • To release lift your arms and slowly roll up vertebra by vertebra until you come to a seated position.


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