Friday, March 12, 2010

The Seven Day Chakra Challenge--Keeping the Light in Your Root Chakra

Dear Yin Weaver,

For the next seven weeks I’m going to write about chakras. Each week I will focus on one of the seven chakras. In addition, I am going to issue a “Chakra Challenge.” The Challenge will be a simple exercise lasting no more than two to three minutes. I’ll be taking the Challenge too, and writing daily about it here and on my Fan Page. If you can, post your experiences here (you need a profile on to be able to do that), or write about your experiences on the Fan page. If you’ve never worked on opening your chakras, I hope you’ll have fun with it. If you’re a seasoned chakra-opening pro, well…have fun anyway!

The Sanskrit name for the root (or base) chakra is Muladhara. It sits at the base of the spine, and is traditionally associated with the color red. To borrow a landscaping term, think of the Muladhara as a root ball. Say you are about to plant a young tree. The root ball sits at the base of the trunk and is the network of roots and soil clinging to them. The Muladhara--your “energetic root ball”--has two main jobs. One, it sends the “roots” of energy (what is sometimes called the “grounding cord”) deep into the earth. Two, it pulls the “sap” (which has many names, but for the purpose of this series I will call it Kundalini) up those roots into the chakra. From there, it sends the energy through the etheric spine to nourish all the other chakras.

The etheric spine is composed of central trunk and two main branches. The trunk is called Shushumna (shoe-shoe-mna, emphasis on the second shoe). It runs along the center of the spinal column and is a channel for Kundalini. The left branch is called Ida (Eye-da). It is said to carry the energy of the Moon, which is receptive and cooling. Pingala is the right branch, and the energy of the Sun flows through it. It is active and warming. The branches cross the Shushumna seven times as they travel up the spine in a serpentine fashion. When the energies of the Sun and Moon meet transmutation occurs and a chakra is continually generated and regenerated.

Much has been said and written about the dangers of engaging Kundalini energy. I do believe there are times when caution is the better part of valor. However, we wouldn’t be alive if we hadn’t already engaged Kundalini to some degree. So, although it can be a risk very occasionally, on the whole nurturing the flow of this energy on a regular basis is as important to good energy hygiene as brushing your teeth is to good oral hygiene.

So what’s the Challenge? This week I want you to practice pranayama. Quite simply, pranayama is a method of controlling prana (or Kundalini) through the regulation of breathing. There are many breathing techniques. Let’s try Anuloma Viloma, or Alternate Nostril Breathing. The directions are written below. Practice it once a day and find your own pace. Try to do it for at least two to three minutes (about three rounds) which might be easy for some of you and an end goal for others. It is said the benefits of the Alternate Nostril Breathing exercise are equally balanced functioning of both sides of the brain, leading to greater creativity and problem solving ability. It is considered one of the best techniques for calming the mind and nervous system.

One of my favorite poets, Theodore Roethke once penned, "Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light." I hope this little seven day Challenge will help you to find and keep the light deep in the root of your being, the Muladhara!


One round of Alternate Nostril Breathing is made up of six steps, as shown below. Start by practicing three rounds and build up slowly to twenty rounds. 

One Round of Anuloma Viloma (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

  • Inhale through the left nostril, closing the right with the thumb, to the count of four.

  • Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.

  • Exhale through the right nostril, closing the left with the ring and little fingers, to the count of eight.

  • Inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril closed with the ring and little fingers, to the count of four.

  • Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.

  • Exhale through the left nostril, keeping the right closed with the thumb, to the count of eight.


  1. I think it's irresponsible of you to post an online tutorial in a breath technique that involves suspension of the breath for 16 counts. That can produce unexpected negative results even for people in good health. For those with high blood pressure -- disastrous. And you gave no cautions! That's why techniques of this type have for thousands of years best been learned one-to-one, in person, from an experienced teacher and practitioner.
    You lost some cred with me.

  2. Get real!!! holding your breath for 16 seconds is hardly going to kill you!
    If your blood pressure is that high you'd be stupid to do any excercise!!!