This week has been all about exploring the concept of rooting down and finding a solid foundation, in preparation for our next Living your Yoga workshop on Yoga for Grounding, with Aisling Conn Saturday 3rd Feb, The Yoga Room. Aisling takes the reins for the asana and my job is to prepare the take home booklet on methods for grounding through asana, pranayama, essential oils and nutrition to help you navigate life off the mat. So naturally my class plan this week reflected what I’ve been researching and sequencing into my home practice. Have a read of Con Sheehans article on Grounding Practices for an introduction to what grounding is all about.
FINDING YOUR FOUNDATION
Rooting down and having a solid foundation will help you establish a strong and stable grounding to develop your asana, and work on optimal alignment for your unique body. 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. Like a tree we plant strong and secure roots to grow from. In our practice we train our mind to deal with situations so that off the mat we become better at recognising and dealing with them. Laying a track for the mind to navigate smoothly these are called positive samskaras. We learn how to find our grounding on the mat so that off the mat we might naturally find our way back to this secure, supported and balanced state.
Standing poses are very grounding. They build focus and concentration, increases circulation, and improve coordination and proprioception. To explore the concept of grounding in your practice start by standing in Tadasana/Mountain and bring your awareness to the point of contact with the ground. Press into the big toe mound, the little toe mound and the centre of the back of your heel. When you do this you’ll notice your three arches of your feet and your inner ankle lifting.This action is called Pada Bandha (foot energy lock) and brings energy up your legs and wakes up the entire body. When you encounter a pose that challenges your balance imagine roots growing from the soles of your feet, weaving around, hooking into the soil and supporting you. Feel the weight of the body bound into this support and a rebound of energy coming back up from the ground. For more on the anatomy of the foot and how to work with Pada Bandha have a read of Anatomy 101 find your feet.
EXPLORING ROOTING DOWN IN YOUR PRACTICE
As you run through the above sequence keep coming back to your points of contact with the ground. Name what is in contact with the ground to yourself, to help direct your attention there. Start the practice by stretching out the soles of the feet and backs of the heel with a version of Supta Padangustasana/Reclined Hand to Big Toe. Using a yoga strap or a belt around the balls of your foot, keep yours knees inline with each other and concentrate on pressing your heel away from you and your toes towards you. In Ashva Sanchalanasana/Galloping Horse remember we are working with grounding so avoid leaning too far forward and losing contact with the back foot. In Virabhadrasana III/Warrior III bring the focus of the pose to the standing leg. You might notice your lifted leg become stronger and lighter when you find the strength and stability of the standing leg.
The peak pose for this sequence is Virabhadrasana III/Warrior III. Read through these alignment cues to find your Warrior III.
From Virabhadrasana I, place your hands on your hips, inhale, lean forward and step your left leg forward a little.
Exhale, hinge forward from the hip joint, lift your left leg parallel to the ground behind you, hips level to the ground. Roll the inner thigh of your left leg up, flex your foot and press out through the heel.
Reach your arms back or reach your arms forward in line with your ears. Lengthen through your spine and the sides of the body, gaze to the ground or to your fingertips if your arms are forward.
Print the above sequence and work through it slowly. Pause longer in each pose than you usually would will help to achieve deep grounding.
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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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru