- 1 The First Chakra: Muladhara
- 2 The Second Chakra: Swadhistana
The First Chakra: Muladhara
In chakra mudra theory it is said the manifesting energies of all creation are reflected within the body. The intensity and patterns of these energies influence the many manifestations of the individual from physiology and health to psychology and spirituality.
Chakra Mudra – Physiology
The root chakra (muladhara), also referred to as the first chakra in chakra mudra. It is the energy center located at the base of the spine and is associated with the nerve plexus in the coccygeal and sacral regions as well as the reproductive endocrine glands or gonads.
The energy created here is similar to the solidifying forces of nature which we associate with the element of earth (called Prithivi in Sanskrit) and the force of gravity. It is the energy of creation, that which pulls material together into physical being, from our cells to our muscles and bones.
From a physical perspective, this is the energy center from which we derive strength and vitality. The formation of bone, the development of muscular strength, and even the crystallization of hemoglobin in our red bloods cells is controlled by this energy.
Chakra Mudra – Psychology
Psychologically, this is where we derive our sense of self and our sense of place and purpose in the world. Each chakra has an associated organ of perception (jnanendriya) and organ of action (karmendriya). For the root chakra, these are the nose (our sense of smell) and the feet respectively. Smell is a primitive and instinctual sensory vehicle of orientation in the animal world; it is the first sense that can give us an indication of whether something is good (thus we are attracted to it) or bad (thus we avoid it). Our feet are our roots into the earth. The energy carried up through the feet runs through every nerve terminal of the body, as shown through the science of reflexology.
In the individual, our root energy is reflected in our desire to have personal space, to achieve material prosperity, to feel secure, and to have personal boundaries. A person who has a healthy and balanced root chakra enjoys his physical being, has a good self-image, and is comfortable in solitude. In chakra mudra theory it is said that an imbalanced chakra can be either strong or weak and these attributes can likewise be overpowering or absent.
Yoga for the First Chakra
Chakra Test: Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga and certain pranayama exercises influence the chakra energies and can stimulate or calm them. Warrior poses, in particular, can be particularly empowering for the first chakra as they require strength and good grounding through the feet and legs. Seated poses such as the thunderbolt (vajrasana) and lotus (padmasana) also awaken the root chakra. Wide-legged postures and squats are also energizing for this chakra.
Chakra Test: Pranayama
Abdominal breathing exercises can both calm and stimulate this energy. Deep abdominal breathing in the incomplete rabbit posture (sapurna shashasana) can relax this energy. The posture is similar to child’s pose except that the head is raised and the elbows are brought in front of the knees with the forearms extended forward with palms flat.
Rapid breathing exercises such as kapalabhati (the skull shiner) will stimulate the root chakra. This breathing exercise involves a rapid pumping of the diaphragm in rounds of 60 to 120 breaths. The abdomen expands and contracts and heat builds up in the low belly, rising up the spine and over the crown of the head.
Concentrating your yoga practice on the root chakra is recommended at times when you feel “spaced out” or lost in your own thoughts. Grounding yourself in the reality of the present moment will help you center yourself and quiet the mind. The empowerment of the first chakra can also awaken your sense of individuality and inner strength.
The Second Chakra: Swadhistana
The manifesting energies of all creation are reflected within the body. The intensity and patterns of these energies influence the many manifestations of the individual from physiology and health to psychology and personality.
Chakra Mudra – Physiology
Our second chakra, called swadhistana, is located above the root chakra (muladhara), just below the navel. It is associated with the hypogastric nerve plexus as well as the adrenal glands and kidneys. Though these will not be discussed in detail here, both play a role in balancing and cleansing the energy of the body.
The energy created here is similar to the cohesive forces of nature which we associate with the element of water (Apas in Sanskrit) and the phenomenon of chemical bonding. It is the energy of attraction, that which creates associations between the molecules of our being, between people, even between orbiting celestial bodies.
From a physical perspective, this is the energy center from which we derive flexibility and fluidity. All the fluids of the body are ruled by this chakra, including the vital healing and healing fluids of the lymphatic system and the soothing synovial fluids of our joints. Unlike the blood stream, these fluid systems have no pump of their own. Movement of the muscles and joints, therefore, is vital to cleansing and refreshing them.
Chakra Mudra: Psychology
Psychologically, the second chakra is the source of our adaptability and our ability to form relationships and associations outside ourselves. The traditional symbol of the second chakra is the crescent moon; as the moon reflects the light of the sun, people often reflect and share one another’s energies. Relationships also form our definitions of ourselves, and in our lives, we must flow from the various roles of child, parent, friend, lover, subordinate, and superior.
Each chakra has an associated organ of perception (jnanendriya) and organ of action (karmendriya). For the swadhistana chakra, these are the tongue (our sense of taste) and the hands respectively. The second chakra is also referred to as the pleasure center. Our sense of taste largely determines what foods and other orally ingested things we find pleasurable. Our hands also connect us with pleasurable sensations. They are also conduits of communication and creativity for the individual. Furthermore, like the feet, they are terminals of the many energy lines that run through the body. Certain hand positions, called mudras, can activate and/or soothe the internal organs.
Within the individual, our second chakra energy is reflected in our desire to be sociable, to be sympathetic and sensitive, to be sensual, playful, and to enjoy movement. If this energy is too strong, a person may become overindulgent, sexually overactive, or emotionally dependent on others. Those for whom this energy is weak may be rigid, emotionally distant, and dispassionate about life and relationships.
Yoga for the Second Chakra
Chakra Test: Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga and certain pranayama exercises influence the chakra energies and can stimulate or calm them. As the body is a reflection of the other aspects of the self, a flexible and adaptable body, balanced in the energy of the second chakra, reflects a mind and spirit of the same disposition.
In Hatha yoga, poses and movement which stretch and release the hip and pelvis area liberate the energy of the second chakra. To begin, simply stand with feet hip width or slightly wider. Place your hands on your hips and make full hip circles, exaggerating the movement and trying to make as smooth a circle as possible. Any flowing movement, such as a flowing squat or lunge synchronized with the breath is energizing for the swadhistana chakra.
Back bending positions such as cobra and upward facing dog are stimulating for the second chakra. Side bends, such as standing crescent moon and triangle are also recommended.
Chakra Test: Pranayama
Calming the energy of the second chakra can help rebalance the nervous system and calm the emotions. Because this is the energy center of our sensuality, sense withdraw (pratyahara), is a useful technique. Certain breathing practices, such as Savitri breathing relax the mind. Lie in savasana (corpse pose) and relax the body, softening the face. Inhale for a slow count of eight, hold the breath for four counts, exhale slowly for eight counts, and then hold the breath out of the body for four. Repeat this cycle for at least 12 rounds, until the mind drifts away from counting.
Visualization techniques done along with this pranayama exercise can help cleanse the nervous system. While breathing in Savitri, imagine your body is a hollow tube that is filled with unwanted debris (your “mental junk”). As you inhale, imagine filling with water. As you exhale, imagine the water carrying away this debris. With each cycle of breath, the water becomes clearer and clearer until you simply fall into complete relaxation.