Con Sheehan

Grounding practices


Grounding is a word that most yoga teachers mention quite a lot, but why so? Directing our attention and energy downwards stabilises our body, centres our mind, and tunes us into the present moment. Today the world moves very fast, and the lives of most people have become so busy that high levels of stress and anxiety have become the norm. As a result, many people are left feeling ungrounded and emotionally out of balance.  

Recently I realised how important grounding is, especially in the morning as it helps to settle the mind and set the tone for the day. Practicing yoga, going for a jog or meditating are great ways to start the day - but sometimes it is hard to find the motivation to do so. It can be a challenge to ground and calm our monkey minds, especially when our smart phones are close by, or a delicious breakfast awaits! Below are some tips that help me ground my energy, particularly on days when my body is tired and my motivation is low.

Lately in these cold winter months, I have skipped my personal practice and slept in more, ending up feeling disappointed in myself for not being a ‘good yogi’. I decided to listen to my body, and realised what I really need to do was a more passive practice to help ground my energy – so I started practicing yin. Yin yoga involves variations of seated and lying poses which are held for 3 to 5 minutes – accessing deeper layers of fascia connective tissue. When practising yin I don’t need to move my body, I can just release into the pose and let gravity do all the work! Staying in each posture for a few minutes, and observing the sensations that arise in the body, is a great way to practice mindfulness. Make sure to slow down the exhalation – this will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and will help ground the body and put it into a state of deep relaxation.

Recently I discovered a simple practice called ‘Earthing’ that makes me feel more alive, present and reconnected to mother nature. Earthing simply involves connecting your feet to the earth. Well why on ‘earth’ would you do this (pardon the pun)? Studies have shown that by walking barefoot on the earth, the body takes in the earth’s negatively charged free electrons. When absorbed in the body these electrons are powerful antioxidants, and help to reduce chronic inflammation, pain and stress. During these cold winter months, I wrap up warm and walk around my garden barefoot a few mornings a week, for 5-10 minutes, weather permitting of course!!

My favourite way to ground, especially when I am stressed or anxious, is to do the following exercise which can be practiced anywhere. While seated in a chair, take off your shoes and gently press all four corners of each foot into the ground. Press your palms softly into each thigh. Root your sit bones into the chair and allow your spine to grow tall. Take a slow, long, deep inhalation into the belly. As you inhale, imagine drawing energy up from the earth through the soles of your feet, and feel it flow through the body to the crown of your head. As you exhale, soften the muscles and send the breath and energy back down the body, through the feet and into the ground. After a few deep breaths, just pause, and allow the breath to return to its normal rhythm. Observe the contact of the feet with the floor for a few moments, and then hold the whole body in awareness for a few breaths. Let go of any tension you are still holding onto, and feel the support of the chair below. After a few minutes, you will be surprised how grounded and calm you will feel!

To learn more about grounding practices join Ruth Delahunty & Aisling Conn in The Yoga Room on 3rd February, 2pm, for meditation, asana practice, relaxation and take home material on top tips for grounding.

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Con is currently studying a Masters in Mindfulness Based Interventions in UCD. He is a 200hr certified yoga teacher and is currently completing his 500hr yoga teacher training in The Yoga Room. He teaches in The YogaHub at 6.10pm every Monday and at 8.30pm every Wednesday.