It’s Thanksgiving week and I feel like the winter holidays are right around the corner! So I thought it might be a good time to talk about how you can use your yoga practice to work on grounding – i.e. finding steadiness and support through your connection to the earth. This time of year feels anything but grounded to me – whether it’s the changes in weather, the super-long to do list, traveling, lots of social engagements – whatever. This is a time when many of us feel pulled in 5000 different directions!
For me this means that I get overwhelmed very easily. Feelings, good or bad, that might not send me for a loop normally are much more pronounced. And I’m pretty much feeling all the feelings lately. It’s been an interesting nine-ish months since I moved back to Brooklyn to try teaching yoga full time and I’m really not sure if I feel like I’ve been particularly successful at riding the roller coaster that this experience has been. In general, I’m in favor of feeling all of your feelings (not just the positive ones) but it can be a lot!
Some things have been so awesome, I can hardly believe they actually happened! For example, the last week or so was an embarrassment of feel-good riches – working with Amber on developing Yoga Without Exception and teaching my first teacher training workshop for example. But, I’d also be lying if I told you that I was where I thought I would be nine months in when I started this adventure. To tell you the truth, I’m fairly frustrated about how much I’m (not) teaching right now and annoyed with myself that I haven’t found a way to make this experiment work yet (though I think Yoga Without Exception is part of the solution – go check it out!) Anyways, not to belabor the point I feel like I need grounding practices more than ever right now!
So if you too feel like you need a little extra grounding in your life right now, I’d love it if you’d give some of these practices a try! And if there is anything you do to feel grounded during the holiday season, please feel free to share in the comments!
Let’s start with seated poses. The simplest is finding a comfortable crossed-legged position (called sukhasana or easeful pose in yoga) and bringing the palms to rest face-down on the thighs. Palms face down promotes a grounded feeling – really bring your awareness to your hands touching your thighs and feel your sitting bones connected to the floor and/or the props. You can sit on a blanket or two here for greater ease! Fancy socks optional!
Sit here with your eyes closed, your shoulders as relaxed as possible for as long as you’d like (or as long as you can without interruption!)
Another seated pose option is a squat (malasana in sanskrit). I’m in the final stages of prenatal yoga teacher training so I’ve been thinking a lot about squatting – it’s kind of the ultimate downward energy pose – so much so that we recommend it to get things moving for labor! You can do it unsupported, but I much prefer sitting on a bolsters or a couple of blocks.
I’ve got my hands in prayer position (anjali mudra), with my palms pressing into eachother and my legs and arms pressing into one another as well.
More active practices can facilitate grounding as well! Try tadasana, mountain pose – see details in the November pose of the month post. See if you can feel the connection of all of your toes into the mat as well as both sides of your heels. Try it with a wider stance – somewhere between hip and shoulder distance apart for more support!
Warrior II (virabhadrasana II) is a fierce, active pose. But because of it’s wide base and hip-opening qualities, it’s a great one to help you feel grounded and strong! Really press down through your feet, especially the outside of the back heel and maybe experiment with widening your stance and letting your hips lower down a bit more as long as your knees are happy. Hold for up to a minute!
Rest is so important always, but especially during the holiday season! Try this version of savasana (corpse pose) with a prop across the hips. I’ve chosen to use a blanket here but anything soft with a bit of weight will do, like a pillow or some other kind of cushion. The turbo version of this involves a couple a sandbags, but I didn’t have any handy!
If this version of savasana is not your cup of tea (ok – now I want some tea…) then any form of savasana that feels awesome to you will definitely help you feel more grounded. Try to hang out here for 5-10 minutes – more if you can get away with it! Just think about how much better you’ll feel afterward!
I hope I’ve given you some ideas and tools to take with you as you enter the chaos of the holiday season! Have a wonderful thanksgiving and happy practicing!!