Harvest

Vegetable display

Harvest from the earth

Coming back to one of my favourite themes of grounding and strengthening this week. Letting go of the restless thoughts or anxiety to feel grounded on the earth. The nurturing earth energy giving us strength and courage. Practicing some lovely mudras for letting go and for courage.

We’ve just passed the Celtic festival of Lammas or Lughnasa, which reminds us to think about the harvest from the earth, and also to think about what we’re harvesting in our own lives so far this year.  Seeing the swathes of warm gold cornfields, reflect on what’s been golden in your own life. Do you need to let go, or to face up to something? Stand barefoot on the earth and feel that you belong. Know that you can reap your own harvest from being in your own unique place on the earth. Feel gratitude for who you are.

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,

but to be fearless facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,

but for the heart to conquer it”

Rabindranath Tagore

Grounding

Columns in garden

that path is you
that is why it will never tire of waiting
whether it is covered with red dust,
autumn leaves,
or icy snow,
come back to the path.
you will be like the tree of life
your leaves, trunk, branches,
and the blossoms of your soul
will be fresh and beautiful,
once you enter the practice of Earth Touching

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

Over the next few weeks, we are taking inspiration for classes from the five elements, beginning with the element of earth. We’ll be doing postures and sequences that help you feel grounded and strong.

Life can throw us in all directions at times and postures like tadasana (the mountain pose) help us regain a feeling of balance and centredness – of coming home.  We feel our own inner strength, standing immoveable like the mountain. Utthitta trikonasana (the extended triangle) gives us a feeling of stability with the wide triangle base and weight grounding down through both feet.

Dru yoga has a wonderful grounding and calming sequence called Prithvi Namaskara – the earth sequence, which combines flowing movements with the flowing breath. It reminds us of the endless cycles of the earth around the sun, and of how life is always changing. If we keep our feet firmly grounded on the earth, we can absorb strength and security from the earth beneath enabling us to cope with the ups and downs of life.

What does it mean to be grounded?

footprints in the sand

It’s one of the words I use frequently in my yoga teaching, and I know what it means to me, but wasn’t sure that everyone would think of it in the same way. When I looked it up in the dictionary, it hadn’t really struck me that it has some negative meanings, such as a plane being grounded because of bad weather, or being kept inside as a punishment.

I associate it with more positive qualities, such as stability, security and being in touch with reality. Another of the dictionary definitions is “mentally and emotionally stable : admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious.”

I started thinking about some of the expressions we use: they’ve got their feet on the ground, meaning someone is practical. Or they’ve got their head in the clouds, meaning the opposite, that someone is a dreamer. If your feet don’t touch the ground, you might be caught up in the excitement of something, not really appreciating the moment. Or plodding along, meaning that you’re in a bit of a rut, feeling heavy and lethargic.

Maybe you recognise a tendancy towards one of these qualities in yourself? The practical one or the dreamer? One isn’t better than the other – we need a mix of both and yoga helps us to find a balance between them.  This time of year is often associated with new beginnings at school and university, excitement, anxiety and rushing around, so a focus on grounding can help to restore that balance. Pause, breathe and connect with the ground beneath you.

We’ll be practicing the lovely Dru earth sequence, Prithvi Namaskara, that helps you keep your feet firmly on the ground, creating stability and security.

Autumn abundance

Yoga by the sea

Back refreshed from an invigorating break by the sea in Pembrokeshire. There’s nothing like doing yoga outside within sight and sound of the sea, filling the lungs with all that wonderful life-force. Still, my back garden’s almost as good! Red berries, apples, leaves beginning to turn and fall and seeds forming on the sunflowers and fennel.

We’re thinking of the abundance of autumn over the next few weeks, and doing a lovely sequence of movements in class this week to bring abundance into your life. As the nights draw in and it starts to get colder, the winter blues can start to set in. Doing some sort of exercise, whether it’s yoga, dancing in your living room or going for a brisk walk can get the happy hormones flowing. Light some candles, take a long bath and enjoy the cosiness of autumn. Take time to reflect on where you are in your life and think about what plans have come to fruition and what seeds you’d like to plant in your life to grow into the person you’re meant to be.

Grounding and strengthening

Tree

This week our focus is on grounding and strengthening. As the new school term starts, even if you don’t have children of school age, this time of year can bring back feelings of insecurity, excitement or anxiety. Yoga can help to restore a sense of calmness and stability through grounding movement and calm breathing.

Our feet provide that stable connection with the ground beneath us, and being firmly rooted to the earth through our feet gives us that wonderful feeling of strength and security. The Dru earth sequence, Prithvi Namaskara, is a flowing sequence of simple movements co-ordinated with the breath that helps you connect with the earth beneath you.