Being grounded is a secret to explore and discover in yoga. During this time of challenges, it generates calming energy. Grounding into yourself and the life-giving support of earth energies will give you the fortitude and flexibility to weather the storm, and have fresh insight to navigate what’s on the other side.
The mystery of the hidden roots of a tree, their deep reach, the nourishment they give the trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit is a sustaining act of love. The roots accomplish tasks that come naturally and allow the tree to survive and thrive. Roots don’t request acknowledgment, not even from our gaze. They are "undercover," you might say. And yet without them the tree would perish. Similarly, being grounded is a natural human state. You thrive when you experience grounding. What’s different for humans is that it is an energetic experience and thus more “mysterious” for many of us. But you know when you feel it because you are clear-headed, more peaceful, feel like you belong, and comfortable in your own self.
How does this translate to your daily life, your yoga and fitness lifestyle?
Consider the following Zen Proverb:
The strength of a tree lies in its ability to bend.
Have you ever reflected on this proverb before and the “ability to bend”? It’s a beautiful metaphor for our own flexibility in mind, body and spirit, but is only possible with the reach of a tree’s roots. What does this mean, really? Let’s unravel this root ball – just had to say that!
(Oh and one disclaimer, the physical body is the first foundation for our awakening. Otherwise, without our body we wouldn’t be human. So, remember to take care of your physical body through diet, especially avoiding processed (or any) sugar and alcohol. They will counterbalance your efforts and pull your body sensation and awareness from the sweet sense of grounding.)
In yoga we work with energy of the Self. The body is its vehicle. Energetically, to find our grounding we hear physical instructions like, “breathe deeply,” “root your sit bones into the earth,” and “press the four corners of your feet into the ground.” It’s only through practice and developing a higher connection that we can begin to relate this physical action to the true outcome of embodying being grounded.
What does it feel like to be grounded? Physically one might notice that it almost seems like the earth rises to meet you, there is less of a sense of pushing towards her. You might feel “heavier” in gravity. You may also have clarity of mind, confidence and a stronger sense of worthiness. Or if you are attuned to the flow of energy in your body, you will feel a steady flow of shakti (enlivening spiritual energy) circulating within you, without obstruction or slowing through the lower chakras. These “senses of the Self” come and go. But actually, they are our natural state and are eternal qualities of the Self. So, when we participate in a grounding practice we are simply moving closer to our natural state, or in other words, removing the veils that make us feel disconnected.
There are many ways to ground yourself in yoga and other traditions that support our state of being, and are especially supportive during challenging times. Here’s a list of a few:
- Practice grounding yoga asanas (poses) like seated cat/cow, tadhasana (mountain pose), adho mukha svasana (downward facing dog), trikoasana (triangle pose) and virabhadrasana II (warrior II).
- Practice alternate nostril breathing
- Meditate on your lower chakras or energy centers, (or just one). Say a prayer for understanding, and clearing of anything that is obstructing their natural state
- Walk barefoot on the earth. Focus on staying present and connecting with the energy of the earth.
- Stomp, jump. Dance, but exaggerate the movement when your barefeet hit the ground. Get that energy moving and wake up those feet – they have smaller energy centers or chakras in them! Shake your pelvis, rub your belly. Enjoy it!
All of these practices will begin to awaken, and start to help stabilize awareness in your body, that will energetically allow you a supreme sense of grounding. Like the quote earlier, you’ll become more supple, or flexible in all areas of your life. With flexibility comes acceptance, with acceptance comes peace. With peace, one generates more and more peacefulness for themselves, and influences the state of others. The depth of that peace is infinite, and a great gift for everyone on the planet right now. So go for it! Pick one of the practices listed above and enjoy your grounding practice today!