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When you hear the word “root” you might picture a plant with a sturdy stalk that tethers it to the Earth below.

Some traditions claim that, like plants, humans also have a force that grounds us: the root chakra.

This wheel-like energy center in the human body is believed by some to be the foundation on which the entire chakra system is based. Some energy healers even say that to balance the other chakras in the body, you must heal the root chakra first.

So what is the root chakra, what can it do, and does it even exist? Read on to find out.

First, let’s start with the chakras themselves. The chakras are one small part of a complex and nuanced spiritual and religious tradition that originates in India.

These energy centers were first mentioned in ancient spiritual texts known as the Vedas dating back as far as 1500 to 100 BC.

They’re believed to be wheel-like vortices that play an important role in the balance of energy in the body, affecting health, self-expression, and even how you perceive reality.

Still, it’s worth noting that there’s no scientific evidence to support their existence.

So, how does the root chakra fit in?

According to various spiritual and religious traditions, the root chakra has to do with feeling grounded, safe, at home in your body, and connected to the Earth.

“The root chakra is the driving force that gives us the energy to live our daily lives and accomplish physical achievements,” says Dirish Shaktidas, a yoga teacher and chakra healer who blends Eastern philosophy with esoteric practices. “I liken it to the long, deep, roots of a tree hidden under the Earth.”

Known as muladhara in Sanskrit, it’s the first chakra in the human body.

The root chakra is where everything begins,” says Cristi Christensen, author of “Chakra Rituals: Awakening the Wild Woman Within.” “It’s the root from which true health, well-being, and empowerment grows. It’s the foundation on which our physical and energetic body and every chakra is built upon.”

The root chakra is believed to be found between the perineum and the lower spine. Due to its location, it’s sometimes linked to the adrenal glands and the anus.

Its characteristics include:

  • represented by the color red
  • linked to the Earth element
  • situated at the base of the spine
  • linked to feelings of security, safety, and survival

A balanced root chakra is linked to:

  • focus and presence
  • feeling stable and secure
  • a healthy survival instinct
  • dependability, reliability, and responsibility
  • a sense of belonging
  • feeling grounded and connected to self and others
  • the ability to care for yourself
  • the drive to live

While the chakra system has long been a part of many spiritual traditions, there’s no scientific evidence to support its existence.

A 2017 study of a human cadaver suggested that the root chakra may correspond to the inferior hypogastric plexus and its sub plexuses, or the network of nerves that supports the organs of the pelvic cavity.

While there isn’t much research on the root chakra specifically, there are studies examining the chakra system and its effect on health and wellness using different treatment approaches.

Still, there’s very little research and no evidence to indicate whether the root chakra exists.

When the chakras become blocked or imbalanced, the flow of energy is said to be impeded. When it comes to the root chakra, you might experience fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and a sense that you’re not at home in your own skin.

Imbalance is believed by some to impact health and well-being in several ways, including:

Physical issues

Emotional issues

  • feeling unsafe, unstable, anxious, and fearful
  • feeling ungrounded or even dissociated
  • erratic behavior
  • depression and lack of motivation
  • living in “survival mode”
  • negativity and cynicism

Spiritual issues

  • inability to trust in the Earth to support and nourish you
  • doubt about your place in the universe
  • existential crisis or crisis of faith
  • loss of will

“When the root chakra is functioning on a low expression, we can feel ungrounded, unreliable, unable to be practical, and be in avoidance of getting things done,” says Shaktidas.

Without the grounding energy of a balanced root chakra, Shaktidas says you may lack a sense of belonging and may lose interest in being a part of the world.

“When our survival and well-being are threatened, cortisol floods the body to prepare for fight or flight,” says Christensen. “If we’re constantly faced with high levels of stress or trauma, it’s possible… to become imbalanced.”

There are several ways to activate, balance, and unblock the root chakra, according to tradition. These include:

Read on for several techniques you can use to get in touch with your roots.

Feeling unrooted? Shaktidas and Christensen suggest you get moving. Try:

Shaktidas believes simple practices are often the most powerful. He recommends walking in nature and gardening as good ways to unblock the root chakra.

Similarly, Christensen advises connecting with your physical body through yoga, Pilates, or dance, or by getting outside for a run or hike.

“Yoga asana coupled with the breath is one of the most powerful dynamic ways to work with the root chakra,” she says.

Another way to connect to your root is through your feet.

Your feet connect you to the ground. Christensen suggests rolling the feet using a tennis ball, small rubber ball, or yoga tune-up ball.

  1. Stand up and place your ball on the ground in front of you.
  2. Shift your weight to one foot, lifting the other and placing it on the ball.
  3. Put light pressure on the ball with your foot, moving it around in a circular motion.
  4. Allow the ankle to move in a circular motion as well.
  5. When you feel ready, change sides.

This may help open up the connection between your feet and your root.

If you suspect your root chakra is out of balance, Shaktidas recommends using sound.

This can include:

Mantra, a word or phrase you repeat during meditation.

“Each chakra has its own unique sound,” he says. “The root chakra’s sound is the seed sound ‘lam,’ which when chanted several times can have a profound effect of activating and awakening this energy center.”

Meditation can be used as a grounding practice to help you connect to your body and the world around you.

Try the meditation techniques below.

Simple root chakra meditation

To connect with the root chakra during meditation, Shaktidas suggests visualizing the color red while taking long, slow breaths.

Lam-chanting meditation

To do this, Shaktidas advises getting comfortable, focusing on your breath until you’re in a relaxed state, and then chanting the seed sound of “lam” several times.

Grounding cord meditation

“This meditation technique is an active visualization that will give you the necessary stability and support to root down, release, and rise up,” says Christensen.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Bring your attention to your root chakra at the base of the pelvis.
  2. Visualize the trunk of your favorite tree growing down from the base of your spine.
  3. Breathe deeply in and out as you feel yourself held and grounded into the support of the Earth.
  4. With each exhalation release what no longer serves you. Send it down the tree trunk and into the Earth.
  5. With each inhalation, imagine drinking in the exact nourishment your body needs today.
  6. Sit with this visualization for 5 to 10 slow deep breaths, feeling yourself embraced and supported by the Earth.

Walking meditation

This meditation may help calm the nervous system and connect you with the Earth.

To complete it, Christensen suggests the following:

  1. Find a space outside where you’ll be able to take at least 10 steps.
  2. Stand with your feet firmly planted on the ground, and feel the sensation of standing on the Earth. Feel the pressure on the bottoms of your feet.
  3. Place your hands on the center of your chest, and take 3 slow deep breaths.
  4. Release your hands and begin to walk. Start out slowly, being mindful and aware of each step. Feel how your foot strikes the Earth.
  5. With each step, receive energy from the Earth and breathe deeply. You may choose to introduce an affirmation as you walk, such as “I belong here” or “I am home.”
  6. Continue until you feel a shift in your energy.

According to tradition, ritual can also help balance the root chakra. Some rituals include:

Mudra is known as the “yoga of the hands.” It’s believed to help you connect with the root chakra in a subtle but powerful way.

Christensen’s go-to mudra is Bhumisparsha, which means “touching the Earth.” It originates from the Buddhist tradition. Christensen recommends practicing it anytime you feel lost or disconnected.

“Take one hand to your heart and then take the other hand and lightly touch the Earth or the chair you’re sitting on. Stay here for 10 slow deep breaths,” she advises.

Color may be another powerful tool.

As red is the color of the root chakra, Christensen believes simply wearing the shade can help activate it.

“Put on a red dress, red scarf, or some red lipstick, and watch how your energy shifts,” she says. “Playing with color is an easy and fun way to activate any of your chakras, as color shifts your frequency and changes your vibration.”

Another option is using crystals.

“Crystals can support every chakra, but since they come from the Earth, I find them to be an extra powerful tool to support the root chakra,” says Christensen.

There are many ways to use crystals, from placing them in your home or wearing them as jewelry, to meditating with them.

Some crystals related to the root chakra include:

  • garnet and hematite, said to ground the body’s energy
  • black tourmaline, said to protect energy and clear away negative vibrations
  • ruby and red jasper, said to connect with the element of Earth

Affirmations are simply positive statements that are repeated out loud. Proponents say they can be used to unblock an imbalanced chakra and enhance its positive aspects.

Some affirmations to use for the root chakra include:

  • I am safe.
  • I am secure.
  • I am at home in my body.
  • I am at peace with the here and now.
  • The Earth supports and nourishes me.

Breathing can help you connect to your body and the present moment.

Three simple, soothing types of breathing that may help balance the root chakra include:

Touching your own body and being touched can be another way to connect.

One way to do this is with self-massage.

“In yoga, this practice is called Abhyanga, aka warm oil self-massage,” Christensen explains. “This is deeply soothing for the nervous system, almost like you’re putting a protective layer around each of your nerve endings, allowing the whole body to relax,” she says.

To do it, heat up 1/4 cup of organic sesame oil, almond oil, or coconut oil, and lovingly massage your entire body.

You can also get a professional massage or ask a loved one to massage you. Cuddling can help too.

While all the chakras are said to be connected in their own unique way, some people believe the sacral chakra, located below the navel, has a special connection to the root chakra.

“In my experience, when the root chakra’s foundations are strong, the sacral chakra can flow with ease, rest, and digest,” says Shaktidas. “It’s important that we start with healing our root chakra first and then heal the sacral chakra.”

Christensen agrees.

“While the root governs the physical body, the sacral chakra governs our feeling body,” she says. This includes your:

  • desires
  • relationship with pleasure
  • reproductive drive
  • emotional intelligence

“A healthy root chakra provides the solid foundation for the sacred waters, the element of the sacral chakra, to flow,” adds Christensen.

While many people find balancing the root chakra beneficial for their well-being, there’s no evidence behind it.

Energetic practices like root chakra balancing shouldn’t be used in place of medical treatment by a qualified professional.

Christensen agrees.

“The root chakra is asking us to take responsibility and care for our overall health and well-being. This includes our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being,” she says. “If you feel unstable in any of these areas of life, please reach out for professional help.”

For centuries, many spiritual traditions have held that the root chakra is the grounding foundation of the chakra system.

If your root chakra is out of balance, it’s believed that the other chakras in your body will be too. If you’re new to chakra work, the root chakra is a great place to start.

While there isn’t scientific evidence to support the existence of the root chakra, you may find that doing root chakra work helps you feel safe, secure, and grounded in your body and the world.

Victoria Stokes is a writer from the United Kingdom. When she’s not writing about her favorite topics, personal development, and well-being, she usually has her nose stuck in a good book. Victoria lists coffee, cocktails, and the color pink among some of her favorite things. Find her on Instagram.