6 Questions And Many More Answers You Want to Know About Grounding
We often hear in the yoga class: “ground through your feet”, “root to rise”, “find a solid foundation”. If you ever wondered what it means and why is it so important, here is the explanation for you.
1. What is the idea behind grounding and foundations?
By foundations in asanas we mean the connection points of our body to the earth. In down dog or urdhva danurasana (upward bow) these are our feet and hands, in handstand – our hands, in tree pose – one foot, in easy pose – our sitting bones and ankles, in pashimottanasana (seated forward fold) – sitting bones and backs of the legs. From now on, every time you do the pose, try to become aware of your foundations.
They are your first source of stability, because asanas are constructed from the ground up. Without a steady foundation, your upper part of the pose will be unstable and it will be more difficult to catch your balance. We have to root down, to rise up. Push the floor away from you to grow taller and straighter.
In yoga, we learn over time how to have a solid foundation and still be flexible at the same time. We need a steady base to ensure safe stretching and proper protection for our joints.
These two terms are associated with grounding: Hasta Bandha and Pada Bandha - The seal between our hands or feet and the ground. Below you will find cues in their regards.
2. So how do we root down, exactly?
In every pose, during your whole practice, these general tips will contribute to your deeper grounding:
Your weight must be distributed evenly on the whole surface of the part of the body that is touching the ground
Pay close attention to these parts of the body, how they are positioned on the mat, feel them bright and firm
Remember about persistent pressing down throughout the whole practice. Notice, what is lifting, while you are pressing down.
Create lift in the arches of the feet
Push down to the earth and pull upwards all the muscles from bottom to top
Think of an energized and strong position
Now, time for something specific. Next time you practice try doing this exercise:
Stand in Tadasana, mountain pose, with feet hips width apart or together.
Look down at your feet.
Lift and spread your toes wide, and put the down. Repeat. Notice how the muscles around your ankles get activated.
Roll your feet in and out to identify the four corners of the feet
then come back to center with your weight equally on both feet.
Push the inner edge of the heel and inner end of the ball of the foot into the ground. Notice how your legs turn inwards and the insides of the legs get activated.
Keep pressing down and your inner legs active, push down into the mat through the outer corners of the feet. Keep equal pressure on all four points.
Pull back the outer edges of the thighs at the same time as you ground through the outer corners. This way the outer legs balance the inner leg energy.
When talking about rooting and grounding, did you think about taking your practice outside? Or maybe you have already tried it? And how about "accidentally" :) forgetting to take a mat with you? Grounding into the earth with your bare foot allows for another level of deep connection to the world, to the nature, and to yourself. It is like coming back to the roots. Because where do the plants have their roots? Feel it yourself. Especially with the spring coming in right now!
Here is a piece of interesting cue that I encountered about grounding recently:
Imagine the roots growing from the parts of the body that are connected to the ground. They are growing into the floor and you can almost hear the quiet crunching. They hook into the ground and support you, giving better balance, strength and energy from the ground. The whole weight of your body is bound into your roots and you can draw the energy and awakening up from that base.
3. What happens in your body?
energy is being transferred from base of pose upward through the body
the entire body is more energized, awaken and strong
more muscles and bones are engaged
4. How does rooting down affect your practice?
Grounding helps our asanas be more efficient. See the 7 benefits:
TALLNESS. How firm our foundations are affects how tall we stand.
STABILITY. The more firmly you anchor into your mat, the more stability you will have in the pose. Grounding through the steady foundations and transferring the energy up allows us to from a place of security.
OPTIMAL ALIGNMENT. It develops your asana from bottom to top, contributing to optimal alignment for your individual body.
FREEDOM. Good grounding provides balance to stand upright. The more our lower body is secure and stable, the more we gain freedom in the upper body.
PROTECTION. Strong roots affect the rest of posture, and through optimal alignment, protecting the joints along the way.
AWARENESS. Rooting down brings your awareness to your body, the asana and the present moment. Makes it easier to focus and let go of the train of thoughts in your head and other distractions. Transforms laziness into engagement, and confusion into awareness.
FOCUS. Bringing your attention to the points of contact with the ground connects you to the earth, and helps to quieten a busy mind, build focus, and bring us back to the body.
FEET CHALLENGE: play around and explore the effect that our feet and hands position has on the whole asana
5. How does finding your foundations affect our physical health?
We are wearing shoes definitely too much in our everyday life. No shoes during yoga practice and bringing awareness to your feet connection to the floor is improving their strength and rebuilding their function. The effect are strong, flexible, balanced and resilient feet.
Improving the communication of muscles in the body parts in contact with the floor and deepening the connection with them.
6. How does grounding affect our mental health?
Directing our attention and energy downwards helps us in the following ways.
CONNECTION. We practice yoga barefoot and it helps to connect better to nature and senses. By directing your attention to the foundations you connect better with them.
BEING PRESENT IN THE MOMENT. I love what Adam Hocke said: “To ground down evenly through feet as we practice asana is a metaphor of being present in the reality of the moment without illusion or ego.”
CENTERING THE MIND. Strong foundations of the pose are contributing to a sense of stability and security. Having both feet firmly planted, helps us to calm down the mind and build confidence during difficult moments, when we feel overwhelmed and stressed. In the dynamic environment of nowadays world, things are constantly changing and not going as planned, that is why we need to be stable and secure in our minds, to manage and face these challenges with less fear
Let me know in the comments, if you tried the grounding exercise or the feet challenge, and what did you discover?
What are your experiences with rooting down? Did you notice a difference when you made this a part of your practice? Let’s talk about it.
I would love to hear from you.
Keep exploring, on and off the mat!
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