Yogis recognize seven main energy centers, or chakras, aligned along the spine, which correspond to major nerve centers in the body. Each chakra is thought to align with a particular set of physical, emotional, and psychological qualities; when the energy to one or more of these centers is blocked, then we can experience corresponding symptoms in our bodies, emotions, and behavior. Practicing yoga is one way that people of all ages and abilities can facilitate a balanced flow of energy through the body and gain greater awareness of what we need to feel healthy and strong.
The Root Chakra
The root chakra is the closest chakra to the earth, located at the base of the spine. Like the root of a plant, it is the foundation of all our growth; without a firm rooting in the earth, we can’t thrive. The root chakra has to do with survival, safety, and security. Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson taught that if basic needs are not met during infancy, then a general sense of mistrust will remain with a child, which can cause them to be excessively anxious, insecure, and distrustful of others and the world.
At any age, root chakra imbalance can occur when a person struggles to get basic needs met, lives in fear of violence, or has other obstacles to feeling safe and grounded. As a result, they may act more out of fear than reason and conscious choice. Work with the root chakra is aimed at cultivating feelings of groundedness, security, and connectedness with the world. It helps us to act from a sense of purpose rather than fear.
Supporting Root Chakra Balance
We support balance in the root chakra when we spend time in nature, mindfully eat healthy food, exercise, care for our living space to make it safe and orderly, and become more self reliant. Certain yoga poses can also promote balance in this area, helping us to feel more grounded, secure, and able to act from a conscious place rather than react to situations from a fight-or-flight response:
- Leg extensions
- Forward bend (either standing or seated)
- Child’s pose
- Happy baby pose
In addition to practicing the asanas (poses) themselves, spending time in the accepting and nurturing environment of a quality yoga class can help to cultivate the feelings of rootedness and security that underlie root chakra balance. A good yoga teacher honors the efforts and progress of each student, regardless of ability or background, and makes each feel welcome and safe.
The Child’s Need for Grounding
Our modern world offers an abundance of distractions to pull our consciousness away from the earth and seems to present threats at every turn. It requires conscious effort to remain grounded and connected with our bodies and the larger world. The practice of yoga can not only help children to feel rooted in the world; it can guide them to greater awareness of their own needs and how to meet them. When children grow up with the tools to assess and address their own needs and physical, emotional, and psychological states, then they gain the freedom to develop into purposeful, loving human beings who can forge their own futures with confidence.
Diane Campbell is the founder and instructor at Eugene Imagination Yoga. If you’re considering a yoga program for your school or other child-centered facility, click the link below to request a free demo class.