A few weeks ago I promised my blog readers that, after the Chakra workshop, I would write some posts about the Chakras. I've been stalling a bit, trying to come up with something from pop culture that would help explain what's going on in the first Chakra. Finally, this morning, as I exhaled and relaxed into a downward-facing dog, I saw Dorothy's ruby slippers. Yes, The Wizard of Oz can help me explain the first Chakra, and you don't need to be listening to Dark Side of the Moon to see it.
The Chakra system can seem too deep and esoteric to easily understand, but really it's just a philosophical model used to explain the way our energetic bodies interact with our physical bodies. The Chakras themselves are the centers that filter energy through your system. Each Chakra corresponds to a location in your body - the seven major Chakras line up along the spine - and each relates to certain physical functions and emotional issues.
The first Chakra, called Muldahara in Sanskrit, is the energy center at the base of the spine, although its influence extends down the legs to the feet. Muldahara means root and this Chakra is all about roots. Just like a tree's roots hold it to the earth, making it stable, and draw nourishment from the soil, our roots anchor us in the physical world. The first Chakra processes our energetic nourishment and stability - home, family, safety, security - and is responsible for our right to be here.
The first Chakra is probably the easiest to work with on and off our yoga mats. It's all about being grounded. When we have a sense of connection to the places where we live, when our basic needs of food and shelter have been fulfilled, when we are comfortable in our bodies and when we can move forward without fear, we are grounded. We practice grounding on our yoga mats in poses like Tadasana (Mountain), feeling our feet underneath us and visualizing our energetic roots growing down into the earth. Off the mat, we can connect to the earth and to our bodies with activities like hiking, dancing, running, gardening or getting a massage.
So where, you ask, does Dorothy and her ruby slippers fit in? Each of the Chakras has a color and Muldahara's color is red. On the rainbow spectrum, red is the bottom with the lowest frequency and longest wavelength. Red also brings to mind the molten core of the earth. Put something red on somebody's feet and you've got a very nice first Chakra symbol.
Let's think about Dorothy's adventure in Oz. During her travels, does she feel secure? Is she safe? Does she feel like she belongs where she is? Nope. She wants to go home and everything she goes through is about getting her there.
When Dorothy's house is uprooted and she is forced to abandon it, she is given the ruby slippers. She wears those red shoes the rest of the movie, even managing to run from flying monkeys in those uncomfortable-looking heels. After all that, what does Glinda tell her? "You've always had the power to go back to Kansas."
We all have the power to find our roots, to be grounded. It's built into that energetic system that exists in everyone, even if we don't know it's there. As adults, just as we provide for our own physical survival, we can take responsibility for our emotional security by honoring our right to exist. We can do the things that help us to feel grounded and take care of our bodies so we feel good being in them.
Or we can do it Dorothy's way. We can stand in Tadasana, close our eyes, click our ruby heels together three times and say "there's no place like home."
And we can do some downward-facing Totos.