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.

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Transform fear into courage

Warrior yoga posture

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be thinking about the chakras, and working with postures that help to balance each of these energy centres. At the University, where I teach yoga, a stressful few weeks are approaching as students prepare for final assessments, and staff are busy too. Each of the chakras is associated with different qualities, such as confidence, all of which can help to get us through stressful, busy or difficult times in our lives.

We’re beginning with the root chakra, Mooladhara, which is located at the very base of the spine. When in balance, this gives you a sense of security, of being grounded and having the courage to face life’s challenges. The warrior postures (Virabhadrasana) work on this energy centre at the base of the spine, inspiring us to be strong in body and mind. Good postures to practice if you need to boost your confidence before an exam or presentation, and done regularly will make you stronger, more resilient and less fearful.

“Fear would have you never leave the house, or turn on a lamp, or be in love or have a pet, or go for a drive in the country… Fear would seal you away and demand that you listen all the time or something terrible will happen. Fears lie. …. Your fears are not larger than you are…”  ~ SARK – Living Juicy.

F – False

E – Evidence

A – Appearing

R – Real

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.

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.