Get grounded, focused, observant with yoga
A few weeks ago, I was at a supermarket pushing my bulky cart through the aisles. A woman tried to pass me. Even though there was plenty of space for her to pass, her cart caught onto mine but she just kept going. She kept pushing her cart and pulling mine along with it. The interesting part was that she was completely unaware of what was happening. She did not notice me or my full cart. Her mind was already at the register whlie her body was just following along on autopilot. I could not get mad at her because she was not really present. Finally, I managed to untangle my cart, smiled and I went to the usual place to pick up eggs, grabbed the eggs, put them into my cart. Then I noticed I grabbed someone else’s cart by mistake. At that moment I realized that I too was functioning on autopilot! Well, I thought, just like her, I am going through the daily motions of shopping, driving and even talking while my mind is elsewhere thinking about the future, past or not focusing at all. In other words, I am not fully connected to the earth, not present.
Our bodies are always connected to the earth due to the effect of gravity, but our mind can easily float away—especially during stressful times. Being ungrounded or disconnected is very common in our society. Think about it, how often do you:
- Keep forgetting words and names.
- Drive somewhere without remembering passing certain streets or exits.
- Keep dropping things or bumping into furniture.
- Have a conversation but do not remember what you were talking about.
- Feel floaty, spacey or in a brain-fog like state.
- Easily get distracted and find it hard to finish tasks at hand.
- Go in every which way without getting anywhere.
- Lose track of time, the day just passes by, and the next thing you know it’s time to go to sleep.
When we are not in the present moment, life just passes us by. We go through the daily motions of work, school, home and the next thing we know it’s ten years later and there’s very little of the last decade that we actually remember.
Being grounded, on the other hand, means being fully in the body and in the present time. When we are grounded, we are focused, observant and we notice the beauty of the world around us. We find the time and space to feel the sun on our skin, to enjoy the scenery on our drive to work, to fully taste our food and to make meaningful connections with our friends, family and pets. We are able to enjoy the process of our day-to-day activities. We are mindful of our thought and actions. We hear what others are saying and we are able to express ourselves clearly. Words, ideas and inspiration come to us with ease and grace. So how do we find this wonderful state called grounded?
Yoga! It is one of the most effective and enjoyable ways to ground and connect to the present moment. Practicing yoga helps us direct our energies, find stability, clear our mind, focus on the now and put the to-do list aside. I don’t know about you, but I can’t hold the tree pose for more than a second with out toppling over while thinking about my ‘To Do’ list.
Here’s a short yoga sequence to help you ground and stabilize your energies and connect with the earth. I find this routine helpful with my busy schedule.
Always start with locating the four corners of your feet. A great way to locate the corners is to first sit on the floor and pick up your right foot. Press your thumb into the base of the big toe, massaging it gently. Then press your thumb into the base of the pinkie toe, then the middle of your inner heel and finally the middle of your outer heel, slightly massaging each corner. Repeat the same exercise with your left foot. Now you are ready to start your routine.
It starts with one of my favorite grounding poses, Tadasana, the Mountain pose. The name itself elicits the imagery of grandeur, beauty, strength, stability and tranquility. Tadasana is the basis of all yoga poses, in fact in can be said that each pose is a variation on Tadasana. I find it useful to practice Tadasana throughout the day, whenever I feel the need for stability, focus and clarity.
In Tadasana, stand with your feet together or hip width apart with the outer edges of the feet parallel with your mat. Slightly lean forward, then back, then left and then right until you find your weight is evenly distributed between the four corners of each foot: base of the big toe, base of the pinkie toe, inner heel and outer heel. Take a deep breath in, feeling your feet pressing firmly into the earth. As you exhale, imagine roots growing from the bottoms of your feet all the way to the center of the earth. Work the feeling of stability and strength up from the earth into your legs.
Engage the front of your thighs by giving your knees a gentel bend. Pull your belly in and up. Spread the collarbones while lowering your ribs toward the front of your hips. Allow the knees to move with your upper body. Draw the shoulders gently away from the ears. Take your hands into the namaste position, palms together in front of your heart. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Focus on your connecting with the earth, feeling its energy moving up your body from your feet all the way to the top of your head-bringing stability, clarity, focus and strength into the body.
Press both feet firmly on mat, inhale and lift your arms over the head. Exhale while straightening the elbows. Inhale, move deeper into Uttkatasana, Fierce Pose, by lowering your hips towards the floor—your knees will bend. Keep your back long, maintaining the natural curve. You may continue keeping your arms straight over the head or take them down into the namaste position at the center of the heart. Take 5 long, deep breaths, feeling energized, strong and powerful.
Exhale, bend forward touching the floor with your hands or finger tips, then straiten your knees, coming into Uttanasana, Standing Forward Fold. Keep the strong connection to the earth through your feet and use the pull of the gravity to completely surrender you upper body. Take 5 deep breaths, letting go of all effort and resistance. After your fifth breath, inhale while coming up half way, and exhale all the way up to Tadasana. Make sure to keep your back long.while straitening your knees
When working on grounding and stabilizing, there is no need to rush, in fact, we want to move through the poses slowly and with control. So spend a few breaths in Tadasana with your hands at the heart center, focusing on feeling strong, stable and balanced.
Prepare to go into Vrksasana, Tree Pose, by shifting your weight into your right foot. Inhale as you lift your left leg up, placing your left foot on your right ankle, shin or thigh. Press the left foot firmly into the right leg and press the right leg into the left foot. Feel the earth supporting your standing leg and imagine your energy centering in your solar plexus, your core—bringing you even more balance and stability. If you are fairly new to Vrksasana, keep your hands at your heart center, pressing the palms together firmly. If you would like to take a more advanced expression of Vrksasana, lift your arms overhead, slowly and with control. Lengthen both arms, pushing the shoulders away from the ears. If you wish to take it further, close your eyes and see what happens to your balance. Again, take it slow, enjoy the pose by taking five long breaths. Exhale while placing your left foot down next to your right foot, returning to Tadasana for several breaths. Repeat Vrksasana on the other side. Notice, which side is stronger. You may want to repeat Vrksasana on the weaker side.
Finish the sequence with 5 – 10 long breaths in Tadasana. Check in with yourself to see how you are feeling now. Perform this sequence daily for a week and let us know how you feel.
Article originally published in Holistically Savvy