I’ve been reading some of Peter A. Levine’s books this past month, including In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, and I was really struck by his use of a bit of the I Ching, particularly the 1950 translation by Richard Wilhelm, for Hexagram 48, “The Well”.

We must go down to the very foundations of life. For any merely superficial ordering of life that leaves it’s deepest needs unsatisfied is as ineffectual as if no attempt at order has ever been made.

In the week I read this, I decided to add in a focus on the Root Chakra, Muladhara, to my Yoga classes.  The Root Chakra; a felt sense of stability and security, the ability to discover our strength, and to stand our ground. Our basic survival needs rest within this energy. It is our foundation.

In a Yoga class, where we can get focused on the body itself during Asana practice, it is easy to think of Muladhara as reflecting our physical strength and stability. The powerful image of an elephant is the animal associated with this Chakra, along with the Hindu God, Ganesha. However, when I think of it the foundation of our very survival, the strength we find to survive and thrive, makes for a rich exploration.

In thinking of how each of us needs a sturdy, steady foundation to build upon, it felt completely related to the Root Chakra.  For so many people, myself one of them, our childhood did not lend itself to providing the tools for  building a good foundation and as adults we learn to do it. We rebuild, build our own sturdy foundation. Along the way we have to learn, relearn, and unlearn tools that helped us survive as children.

What is the felt sense of what we call stability? Is it possible to connect to it when challenging physical balance with a pose like Warrior Three (Virabhadrasana III)? Where can we feel the strength we call upon to choose to care for ourselves, to take a step towards connection and love?

The foundation we build lets us explore, discover, and connect to our world, to our own true self, and to the Divine. While our physical strength may not always be where we want it to be, it is our foundation of personal strength that allows us to keep moving forward anyway.