Tune into Your Body with These 9 Grounding Yoga Poses
The word ground arises frequently in the yoga community and yoga classes. But what exactly does that mean?
If you routinely practice yoga, you’ll definitely hear the word in class. We are cued to ground down through the four corners of your feet in standing poses, ground your sit bones into the earth in seated poses, and ground yourself when you meditate. Despite the frequent use of the word, many people are not entirely aware of what it means to ground.
Grounding refers to more than a state of being in a pose. It refers to an overall state of well-being.
Busy, stressful schedules often require that you move quickly and spend a great deal of time thinking critically. Spending so much time in your head creates an upward movement of energy into the mind, which can leave you feeling imbalanced, scattered, confused, and emotionally unstable.
Yet, there is a solution to this imbalance: you can ground yourself by focusing on connecting your body with the earth and grounding into the earth in your yoga practice.
These 9 yoga poses and techniques can help you to ground both physically and mentally:
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
To breathe consciously is a powerful act. The process of breathing falls at the intersection of your voluntary nervous system (conscious acts) and your autonomic nervous system (unconscious acts). Pranayama, or conscious breathing, can help to balance the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and relax) branches of the nervous system.
Alternate Nostril Breathing balances the two hemispheres (left and right) of the brain and body, resulting in a balance in your physical and mental well-being. While practicing this technique, focus on feeling your sit bones connect with the earth.
How to Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing:
Sit in a comfortable seated position. Ensure that your spine is straight and roll your shoulders down your back
Rest your left hand on your left knee or lap
Bring your index and middle finger of your right hand into a peace sign and either fold them into your palm or rest them on the bridge of your nose
Place your thumb gently on your right nostril and your ring and pinky fingers onto your left nostril
Begin with an exhale out of both nostrils
Close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through your left nostril. Pause for a moment
Close your left nostril with your ring and pinky fingers
Release the right nostril and exhale through it. Pause for a moment
Inhale through the right nostril. Close the right nostril with your thumb. Pause
Release your left nostril and exhale through it
This completes one round of Nadi Shodhana. Repeat this pattern for 5 to 8 rounds.
2. Seated Cat-Cow Pose or Upavistha Bitilasana Marjaryasana
The flow between Cat and Cow poses not only helps awaken and bring more flexibility into the spinal column, but also strengthens the Mula Bandha (or the pelvic floor muscles). Cat-Cow Pose also helps to relieve stress and establish emotional balance, which promotes a feeling of groundedness.
While in this pose, really focus on grounding your sit bones into the earth. Perhaps, even visualize roots extending from the base of your spine down into the ground all the way to the core of the earth.
How to Practice Seated Cat-Cow:
Find a comfortable seat with the soles of your feet on the floor
Place your hands on your upper shins
On your inhale, roll toward the front of your pelvis, drawing your heart forward and your gaze towards the sky
On your exhale, rock to the back of your pelvis, rounding your spine and releasing your chin towards your chest
Repeat this flow for at least a minute, or up to 3 minutes if you desire more.
3. Mountain Pose or Tadasana
Tadasana is a wonderful grounding pose as it provides an opportunity for you to feel steady and unshakable, much like a mountain. While much of your body is engaged in Tadasana, there is little complication in this pose so take the moment to rest and be present.
On your inhale, focus on visualizing energy drawing up through your feet and through the crown of your head. On the exhale, imagine that energy moving down from the universe into crown of your head, and down to the core of the earth, stabilizing and grounding you.
How to Practice Mountain Pose:
Stand with your feet either hip-width distance apart or with the big toes touching and your heels slightly apart
Spread your toes wide
Engage your quadriceps by lifting your kneecaps up the thighs
Draw in your navel towards your spine
Send your shoulder blades down your back
Tuck your tailbone so you aren’t sticking your booty out
Close your eyes and breathe deeply here for as long as you like.