In all things human, tips for teachers

Can we be strong without being rigid?  Can we own our own space without being overbearing?  Is our relationship with our body healthy?

These are just a few of the issues encompassed by our first chakra. Located at the base of the spine, muladhara chakra is the “root” of the chakra system.  Like the foundation of a house, the health of this chakra affects all the others above it.    Anodea Judith describes the first chakra as reflecting our “right to be here,” which includes our “right to establish individuality” and our  right to take care of ourselves” (Eastern Body, Western Mind).

The element of the muladhara chakra is earth and the chakra resonates with the part of ourselves that solid and physical.  Judith estimates the development of this chakra during the first year of life, in which we first learn if we can trust the outer world to meet our essential needs.  This primal experience shapes our future interactions with our environment:  do we have enough to sustain us without hoarding?   On a more psychological level, can we allow ourselves to take up space  without becoming impermeable?

In our asana practice, can we be strong without becoming rigid?

As we practice, we can connect to the strength of the earth through any part of our body that is connected to the ground. As we press into the earth, the strength of the earth radiates back into our muscles and bones.  In standing poses, the feet and legs to draw up the strength of the earth into the core of our body.  In downdog, uttanasana, and chaturanga, our hands become like a second pair of feet, anchoring us into the solid girth of the planet.  Explore becoming more animal in your practice.  Get low to the earth and play with the weight and rebound of gravity.  And as you connect to the deep stability and safety of the ground, can you trust enough to let go of any hard edges?

When you feel spacey or ungrounded, explore some slow, steady standing poses like Warrior II or chair that work the hips and legs…or simply lay in savasana for a few minutes and give the floor your weight.  As you connect to earth, be reminded that you are of the earth.  Embrace your right to be here.

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