6 Root Chakra Exercises To Relieve Stress & Connect With Mother Nature
These grounding practices will help you to balance your first (root) chakra by building a healthy earth element in your body, which then translates to a healthier mind since the body and mind are so deeply interconnected. They are inspired by the Indian Goddess Shailputri, also known as Mother Earth, and all these practices help you restore your connection with nature as your own mother who can nurture and care for you when you align yourself with her eternal rhythms.
A great teacher in nature during seasons of instability and uncertainty is the mountain, which is full of the earth element embodied by Goddess Shailputri. "Solid as a rock" is a great way to describe the earth. You can also see the sturdiness of the earth in the grounded nature of trees, the hardness of nuts, and the rooted quality of vegetables that grow underground. In your body, the earth element expresses itself in your skin, bones, nails, teeth, hair, and tendons.
Earth element gives you the power of perseverance, which translates into stability and a sense of grounding in your root chakra. The following first-chakra-balancing practices will give you stability and help you awaken to the power of Goddess Shailputri:
Thank Goddess Shailputri each morning to connect with Mother Earth.
There is a special mantra of gratitude toward Goddess Shailputri, our beautiful Mother Earth, that you can simply remember or chant when you wake up each morning. Mantras are like spiritual medicine that help you overcome draining repetitive thoughts so you can be more stable and present in each moment. The word mantra itself literally comes from two Sanskrit words: tra, which means "to protect," and man, the "thinking mind."
I love chanting this mantra before stepping my foot onto the ground. The meaning of the gratitude mantra to Mother Earth acknowledges Nature as Goddess Shailputri, who "has the ocean as her garment and mountains as her breasts. We ask for forgiveness for touching you with our feet."
"Samudra vasane devi [pronounced samu-DRA vas-NEY day-vi]
Parvata stana mandale [PAR-vata stana MUN-duley]
Vishnu patni namastubhyam [VISH-nu pat-NI na-MAS-tu-bhi-UM]
Paada sparsham kshama svame [PAA-da spar-SHUM sha-MA sva-MAY]"
The goal of Yoga is a sacred union of your individual Self with the universe. When you acknowledge your interconnectedness with Goddess Shailputri as Mother Nature each day in simple ways, like even saying "Thank you, Mother Earth" before stepping your foot onto the ground, you move toward a deeper connection with Mother Nature and all her creatures, large and small. Gratitude is the opposite of fear, anxiety, and insecurity. Giving thanks each day reframes destabilizing thoughts and phobias into optimism, contentment, and a profound sense of grounding that really balances your root chakra.
Stop and smell the marigolds for instant calm and stability.
Activating your sense of smell is a simple and easy way to ease anxiousness, fear, and worries. Stopping to smell the marigolds has a stabilizing effect on your mind, helping you come back to the present moment. Roses, marigolds, and jasmine flowers have scents that are said in ancient texts to soothe and evoke mental clarity and stability. I love to picture Goddess Shailputri amid the scent of such flowers while inhaling their aroma to balance my first chakra.
Embody Goddess Shailputri in Mountain Pose.
Standing in Mountain Pose is a simple grounding practice, especially if you are dealing with a lot of anxiousness and insecurity. Starting your mornings in Mountain Pose can help you face the unpredictability of the day with steadiness and stability, like the majestic goddess Shailputri, especially when you approach the practice with this intention.
Connect with Mother Earth from the ground up. Close your eyes while standing, and visualize a mountain and how stable it is. You can then affirm that "I am stable as a mountain" and "I am secure inside myself." The affirmations and posture connect with the spirit of Goddess Shailputri, residing steadfastly in your first chakra.
Then really root your feet into the ground; stand tall, firm, and strong, with shoulders back. Fix your gaze at the horizon. Or look into your own eyes in a mirror. Breathe deeply for several breaths until you feel more confident, stable, and strong.
Experience Goddess Shailputri's stability in Tree Pose.
Tree Pose is an excellent practice to root and balance your first chakra, as well as to stabilize your legs and feet (any discomfort in these areas of your body is a definite sign of first-chakra imbalance). Studies have shown that the practice of Tree Pose has positive effects on overall balance1, stability, and physical coordination.
Begin in Mountain Pose (see prior description for details). Close your eyes here and imagine your favorite tree. It could be a tree you used to climb during childhood. I personally love to imagine the bodhi tree, under which the Buddha gained enlightenment. Though I have not yet seen it in real life, its large roots and widespread branches suggest comfort and security.
Trees inspire because they are stable, rooted firmly in the earth. As you plant one foot firmly in the ground, feel yourself rooting more deeply into the earth. Imagine that you are as grounded as Goddess Shailputri, that nothing can shake your resolve. From this place of inner resolution, slowly lift your opposite leg and place your foot on your standing leg, either below or above your knee, but never right on your knee.
Keep your hands pressed together, with your thumbs touching your heart, then extend them above your head. As you stand on one leg, contemplate how you can be like Goddess Shailputri and live with greater resolve to know your true Self.
Root into Mother Earth with your feet.
You can awaken to Goddess Shailputri through the soles of your feet—one of the main locations of the root chakra. This stabilizing practice is calming for anyone feeling ungrounded, anxious, or insecure. Spending time in nature is often the best way to bring about a sense of refuge, security, and protection.
Take off your shoes and walk in nature, ideally near a body of water, such as the ocean, a lake, river, or stream. As you walk barefoot, feel the connection between the soles of your feet and the ground beneath them. Sink your feet even deeper. Close your eyes if you can, and allow the stabilizing energy of Goddess Shailputri's manifestation as Mother Earth to calm your worries and fears as it brings balance to your root chakra through your feet.
Allow yourself to slow down. Experiment by making your footsteps as light as you can, barely touching the surface of the sand, dirt, or grass. Then see how it feels to press down firmly, perhaps planting yourself in one spot for some time. Breathe deeply through your nose. Experience the freedom of traveling, however long or briefly, without distractions. Leave your phone inside—or turn it off. Unplug from the outer world and plug in to your inner world, where Goddess Shailputri resides.
Oil your feet before bedtime for sound sleep.
Oiling your feet before sleep is an excellent stability-enhancing practice.
Because your feet are full of subtle energy centers (called marma points in Ayurveda) that relieve stress, oiling your feet before bedtime helps you get the deepest, least disturbed sleep possible.
Warm up sesame oil (in cold seasons) or coconut oil (in warm seasons) and then rub your feet with it. Make sure to do so slowly to relieve stress and tension in your feet. Massage between each of your toes, really press on the soles of your feet, and move in a circular motion around your ankle joints.
Sneha is a Sanskrit word that means "to oil." Sneha also means "to love," making this a beautiful practice to awaken the love of Goddess Shailputri in the soles of your feet.
From THE WAY OF THE GODDESS: Daily Rituals To Awaken Your Inner Warrior and Discover Your True Self by Ananta Ripa Ajmera, published by TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2022 by Ananta Ripa Ajmera.
Ananta Ripa Ajmera is founder and CEO of The Ancient Way, an organization that carries forward the mission of her lineage ancestors, of health and spiritual freedom for all, and the author of THE WAY OF THE GODDESS: Daily Rituals to Awaken Your Inner Warrior and Discover Your True Self.
The Ancient Way offers a balance of modern day food, lifestyle and spirituality with a centuries' old proven way of life that is close to nature, the gems of Yoga and Ayurveda and the call of spirituality. Ananta also serves as Director of Ayurveda at THE WELL, a modern wellness club that brings together world-class doctors and master healers for a more balanced you.
She is also author of the award-winning book "The Ayurveda Way: 108 Practices from the World's Oldest Healing System for Better Sleep, Less Stress, Optimal Digestion and More." Ananta has taught Ayurveda and Yoga staff trainings at Stanford University, NYU, UNICEF, California Department of Public Health and ABC News - to name a few. She studied and practiced Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic Psychology deeply in traditional Vedic spiritual lineages for 12 years. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Vogue, Yoga Journal and MindBodyGreen. You can book a complimentary 15-minute consultation with Ananta here.