Everything you need to know about the lower three chakras

written by Mascha Coetzee

Everything you need to know about the lower three chakras

Credit: Ashley Batz

In the Hatha Yoga tradition originating in India, our life-force energy is known as prana, while in Chinese medicine, qigong and tai chi it’s chi (qi); Reiki practitioners call it ki, and it’s mana in Hawaiian spiritual practice.

This vital life force connects our physical and energy bodies and is transported by means of chakras, translated as “wheels” or “discs”. Chakras are the spinning centres, often referred to as vortexes of energy, aligned vertically along the length of the spinal cord from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.

For the purposes of our two-part chakra exploration series, we will explore the seven-chakra system, with the lower three chakras examined in this first part.

Overview of the lower chakras

This overview and suggested practices focus on the lower three chakras — muladhara, svadhisthana and manipura — which are considered your physical chakras and are responsible for your self-image and physical and emotional identity, together with your relationship to the physical world. The lower three chakras connect, through your heart chakra, to the upper three, which are regarded as your spiritual centres and will be discussed in a follow-up article.

First chakra / root chakra

The root chakra, often referred to as the base chakra, is linked to the Earth element, your foundation and physical identity, and is located at the base of the spine at the perineum, between the genitals and the anus.

Muladhara rules your pelvic floor, bones, large intestine, legs and feet, together with your relationship to the material world of matter and form, and is responsible for how grounded, secure and safe you feel in the world. Think of this energy centre as your roots.

Your root chakra is associated with your primal needs for survival — food, shelter, safety — and controls your relationships with money, your family and your physical body, and how you nourish yourself.

A malfunctioning muladhara chakra may manifest physically in sciatica or knee problems and affect how grounded and rooted you feel on your feet as well as your stability, financial security and body image. Feeling greedy and heavy are the excessive qualities of the first chakra, while anxiety, fear, restlessness and being underweight are signs of its deficiency.

The frequency at which chakras spin and vibrate changes as your life happens and you experience love and joy, manage your stress levels and address challenges that arise.

When muladhara is balanced, you feel safe and body-aware, are filled with vitality and able to trust, as well as enjoy good health and abundance.

To help balance your root chakra, you may include grounding walking meditations and bare-feet earthing in your routine.

Nurture your body with self-care practices, including nutritious foods (eg grounding root vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots and parsnips), a yoga routine encompassing grounding and leg-strengthening poses together with the asanas (poses) opening leg channels: Warrior I and II, Triangle, Eagle, Chair, Tree, Knee to Chest, Bridge, Locust, and Standing and Seated Forward folds.

Second chakra / sacral chakra

Now that you feel secure and stable (qualities of the first chakra), you are moving into the abode of the second chakra, which is about meeting your needs and desire for pleasure.

The sacral chakra is associated with the Water element, movement and your emotional identity. It’s located in the pelvic bowl just in front of your sacrum, opening into the pelvic basin, encompassing the area between your sexual organs and the navel.

The second chakra governs your hips, inner thighs and reproductive organs, together with the urinary and circulatory systems.

Svadhisthana rules your desires, emotions, sensuality, sexuality, pleasure and the need to create, whether it’s birthing your children or fostering your creative expression in the world.

... when the energy in your chakras is in balance, you live in good health and harmony ...

When this chakra is unbalanced, your life may be controlled by impulsive behaviours, dissatisfaction with sex, relationships with poor boundaries, materialistic attachments and excessive need to control.

Tight lower back, kidney and urinary bladder issues, frigidity and impotence are physiological malfunctions of the second chakra. Self-indulgence, addictive behaviours and heightened sensitivity are signs of the excessive svadhisthana, whereas self-punishment, rigidity, low libido and emotional detachment indicate deficiency in this energy centre.

When it’s balanced, you are able to express your emotions, establish healthy boundaries, experience pleasure, move with grace and fluidity and adapt to change when needed.

When creating a yoga sequence for balancing your sacral chakra, include poses that can help you open your hips and groin as well as release the sacrum. These include Warrior II, Extended Side Angle, Squat, Reclined Bound Angle, Bound Angle, Downward-Facing Dog and Happy Baby.

You may also want to explore exercises and activities that inspire your creative expression (eg journalling, art, drawing, dancing, playing music, cooking).

Third chakra / solar plexus chakra

The purpose of the solar plexus chakra is to inspire transformation; it opens from your lumbar spine (L2) into the navel, from which it extends to the solar plexus. It is of the Fire element.

Manipura relates to your digestive system, muscles and metabolism, as well as your self-esteem and willpower.

The goal of this chakra is to ignite your internal fire, strengthen your will to act, overcome lethargy and break through sluggishness and passivity. Indications of its malfunctions include poor digestion, diabetes and ulcers.

When in excess, this energy manifests in stubbornness, arrogance and insensitivity, while when deficient it may result in depression, introversion, heightened victim mentality and low confidence.

A balanced third chakra presents itself in a well-functioning digestive system, confidence, good self-esteem and living with playfulness, purpose and determination.

Balancing your solar plexus chakra can be done by practising energetic heat-generating yoga poses and sequences, including Sun Salutations, seated and supine spinal twists, and Bow, together with abdominal-strengthening exercises and poses, such as Boat and planks.

For this chakra, a one- to two-minute practice of Breath of Fire, which is powered from the navel and solar plexus and involves powerful, rapid and rhythmic inhalations and exhalations through the nose, is beneficial.

Breath of Fire resembles the panting of a dog but is done in an upright seated position with the mouth closed. On the inhalation, as the diaphragm descends, the abdomen relaxes, where on the exhalation, the air is forcefully expelled, causing the diaphragm to contract, and your navel and solar plexus are drawn towards the spine. 

Yoga sequence for the lower chakras

  1. Reclined Knee to Chest (supta ardha apanasana)
  1. Reclined Bound Angle (supta baddha konasana)
  1. Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana) à High Lunge (alanasana) à Twisted Lunge (parivrtta alanasana)
  1. Warrior II (virabhadrasana II)
  1. High Plank (phalakasana)
  1. Locust (salabhasana)

Locust Preparation A

Locust Preparation B

  1. Bow (dhanurasana)
  1. Reclined Big Toe (supta padangusthasana A)
  1. Bridge (setu bandha sarvangasana)

Finish your practice in savasana, resting for at least 5 minutes.

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Mascha Coetzee

Mascha Coetzee is a yoga teacher, holistic health coach, nutrition assistant and linguist, and a practitioner of hatha yoga, inclusive of ashtanga, vinyasa and yin yoga. She integrates the wisdom of yoga, Ayurveda, CTM and modern research in her lifestyle and teachings. Mascha is based in Launceston, Tasmania.