In yoga classes you may often hear the teacher talking about a sense of grounding or announcing that this is a very ‘grounding’ practice. What does this mean!? This term can take on many meanings and be interpreted differently by each student and their particular reasons for wanting to me more grounded.
Over the last week classes have looked at ‘grounding’ in terms of how our physical foundations such as our feet and hands interact with the floor during our yoga practice.
How can we use the floor or our mat to get feedback to enhance and grow in our poses? Whether this is standing in Tadasana or Mountain pose and spreading our toes and feeling even weight distribution through our feet or whether it is feeling the wibbles and wobbles in our hands as we play with hand balances such as crow.
If we feel stable and supported at our roots, inevitably we can grow and expand upwards and outwards. There is always an element of interplay with the floor or ‘micro-wobbles’ as our feet or hands work to maintain their balance in a pose.
Yoga can also ground us mentally by calling for us to move with breath and bring our attention to what is happening in the body right now. When everything else in life can feel a little frenetic and you feel you can’t concentrate, with the mind jumping from task to task or worry to worry, finding some time – however brief – on your mat can help re-set you and your mind.
Yoga requires us to move with concentration and focus. It asks us to find stillness and rest – even just for a few minutes. Whether you prefer a more still restorative practice or a more dynamic class – yoga can really anchor us when we feel jittery and disorganized [and those that know me well will probably know I excel in being ‘jittery and disorganized’.]
In my own experience of yoga, I often feel as though things are more manageable when I leave a yoga class. I stand a little taller and any fogginess in my brain has dissipated. I find it easier to return to my desk to work or tackle whatever tasks I have planned. Perhaps you have similar experiences? There is a clarity of thought I find in the stillness of yoga.
It is not only through yoga as a physical asana practice that I find this sense of grounding. Just going for a walk outside can help connect you back to your body – particularly if you can get to a park or the countryside and see something green or see a dog joyfully chase a stick! No phone – no distractions – just walking, breathing and observing and with each step you feel a little steadier.
It’s common sense really – walking and being outside in nature is essential to our experience as humans. We make sure our plants get sunshine, our pet dogs must be walked every day at least and our children are given regular playtimes – but so many of us adults end up cooped up in desks, crowded tubes or collapsed on sofas and forget or run out of time to get outside.
Here’s a short list of other things that help ground me in the present moment. They are purely suggestions and you can add your own personal experiences below. I hope to see you in class again soon.
- Mooching in your garden [or tending to your indoor plants/balcony space]: I can’t quite bring myself to say ‘gardening’ – as what I do in the garden hardly constitutes major gardening – but my recent attempts to nurture a couple of pots of herbs, water the roses in the morning and possibly be able to harvest some home-grown tomatoes soon is one way I can connect to nature. Taking five minutes a day to observe which plants are about to bloom and which ones have ended up as lunch for caterpillars can be a calming process. I am very lucky to have a small garden living in London – but you could still enjoy interaction with nature with house plants or carving out a plant-filled space on a balcony.
- Put the phone down – just once in a while: I sometimes find myself stuck in a scrolling vortex, looking but not actually absorbing an endless flow of information until my brain feels agitated and unable to focus on anything. So perhaps try to put the phone down – for at least 15 minutes before bed – and read a book. My mind feels more stable and even paced once I start to read.
- Take your shoes off and sit on the floor more: When you get home – take your shoes off – spread your toes and feel the ground below you. I love high heels – and lived in them every day when I had a more office-based life – but taking shoes off is important! Your feet need to stretch and move and work to adapt to different terrain. I once have my footprint assessed at a running workshop and my love of high-heeled pointy shoes was massively evident in my very squished footprint. Once you’ve kicked off your heels – try sitting on the floor and not the sofa. Not every night – but give it a go once in a while. Then practice standing up and sitting down without using your hands [and don’t make any noises/grunts – it’s just a habit and unless you are actually 102 years old – try not to do it 😊]. We feel more connected to how our bodies are meant to move if we don’t always rely on man-made props designed to make it easier to slump and can zap our energy.