According to the ancient yoga wisdom, blissful yoga is practiced in tandem with all five elements – air, water, fire, space, and earth. Earth is considered home in yoga where we bring back our practice and energies to ground and anchor ourselves. One of the most esoteric terms used in modern yoga practices, grounding yourself during your meditation and exercise is essential to a wholesome yoga practice and therapy.
Grounding is a technique to stay in the present and anchor your thoughts when practicing yoga. It helps you reorient your thoughts and physical self to the here and now. It is effective in managing intense anxiety or an overwhelmed mind helping you regain mental focus. Many earth element poses bring your body to a restive state or help strengthen the mind and body. This earth day, here are a few earth grounding yoga poses for you to endeavor for realignment, strength and rejuvenation.
Vrikshasana / Tree Pose: Start by standing upright with your feet together. Begin to shift body weight to your left foot. Slowly lift the right foot to the inseam of your left leg gently placing it on your calf or thigh as per your comfort. Once the leg is placed comfortably, straighten up from the hips pushing your pelvis slightly forward and roll your shoulders back to a comfortable position ensuring your spine is elongated and relaxed. Make sure your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are aligned. When comfortable, start to raise your hands over your head, stretching the fingers toward the sky. Join your hands, palms touching each other completely over your head and stay for thirty seconds or more with deep even breathes. You can also opt to join your hands together between your chest and stomach – your heart center. Pay attention to your breathing pattern, gradually deepening its length and capacity. This posture encourages focus and breathes control. It is also a great start to strengthen muscles and increase stability. To get out of the posture, simple lower your arms beside your hips and gently guide your leg off the calf or thigh and on the floor. Repeat on the other side.
Virabhadrasana / Warrior I Pose: From a neutral stance lift your right leg and place it behind as far as you can stretch. Gently bend forward with your hands placed on either side of your left foot. In this posture place your right outstretched foot at a 90 degree angle, toes facing out. Once you are stable in this stretch, extend your hand over your head, fingers reaching outward and lift yourself up from the hip keeping your spine elongated and straight until upright. Hold this posture until uncomfortable for a good stretch. You can also sink your hips deeper for a good stretch. Relax your arms and bring your legs together in a smooth flow to return to neutral. A great pose for body awareness, this posture gives you a deep lower body stretch. It gives you strength in mind and emotion and courage to take control with a calm mind.
Elephant Pose (Level I): In a neutral standing position bend your knees anchoring your coccyx toward the earth. Using your core muscles, lift the torso and open your chest to lift the heart high. Now, pressing your palms together place the tips of the thumbs on your third eye (between the eyes) and draw your elbows together representing the elephant trunk. Remember to lift your breastbone and elbows while relaxing the shoulder blades. Focusing on your breathe, hold this posture for as long as you can. To relax from this pose, simple disengage your arms bringing it to your side and lift up from the squat. This posture is known to invoke feelings of strength, confidence and humility. With the body set low towards the ground, the earth gives strength to hold this posture creating an emotion of going back to the base for comfort.
Uttānāsana / Forward Stretch: Stand with your feet wide apart ensuring you are engaging in a maximum stretch yet comfortable. Now, Inhale and on the exhalation bend forward from your hips. Try to bend with an aim to have your thighs touch the stomach. Remember to keep your spine relaxed, elongated and straight. Once deep in the posture keep your shoulders and neck relaxed and breathe deep focusing on your breathe and muscle stretch. A great posture to reconnect to your body while grounding it, this posture is known to motivate new perspectives when practiced mindfully.
UtkataKonasana / Goddess Pose with Twist: Standing with your feet a little wider than your hips, turn your feet out about 45 degrees. Gently press your hands on the insides of your knees while dropping your coccyx down. Lift your arms up keeping the arms a slight distance from the ears. Inhale and draw the belly toward the spine. Hold the posture for as long as comfortable. Exhale and relax. A strength and power posture, this pose helps in building balance and growth in the practitioner.
Bālāsana / Child’s Pose: Sitting on your haunches, spread your knees out in a comfortable position. Ensure to pull your big toes in behind you so that they touch. Now elongating your spine bend forward from your hips until your stomach is rested on the floor. Stretch your arms over the head and relax with deep even breathing. For a deeper stretch, try to stretch your fingers toward the front giving your arm, back and shoulder muscles a better stretch. Lowering your head beneath your heart signals the nervous system to relax and slow down. It invokes a calm state of mind giving you a relaxed after feeling.
Savasana / Corpse Pose: The best segment of any yoga practice.Savasana known as the corpse pose is a simple yet effective relaxation pose. Laying on your back, place your arms besides you palms facing up. Ensure the neck, lower back and body are in a comfortable position. Gradually with deep breathes take your mind through each part of the body relaxing it. Keep your focus on yourself relaxing with deep even breathes.
Feeling connected to your earth element gives you a feeling of confidence and humility. It allows you to go about your life with steadiness and ease. Just be mindful in your practice and give it all your focus and time to reap maximum benefits of these mind, emotion and body poses.