Lessons From The Mat.

Sharing observations and insights that unfold through practice and teaching.

From The Gound UP


This is a topic close to my heart. We can be our best when our feet are firmly grounded and our heart is open, yet most of us don’t give much thought to how we stand and the relationship we have with gravity. When this placement is active there is presence and certainty. This is one of the aspects I love most about my yoga practice. It gets me out of my head and into my body. In other words, grounded. This is a common yoga cliche, but what does it mean to be grounded? How does it feel to be grounded?

To look at it’s opposite, most of us have experienced what it feels like to be ungrounded. Too much downward energy and we feel depressed, heavy and stuck. Too much upward energy and we are in our head, absent minded, nervous, anxious, confused, flighty, and ruled by thoughts. We may have lots of ideas, but without a foundation there is no platform for them to manifest.

Why grounding?
Take an idea for example, without grounding it would always remain in the head as an idea. Anything successful- a business, a relationship (to self or others), a sturdy building, an investment plan, a tree, a yoga practice- requires a firm foundation on which to rest, to fall back on, and to grow out of.

To start, bring awareness down into the body and to those parts touching the floor. Observing in detail the sensations found without judgement. Now start to push back from the floor. The harder the surface you are on the more you can push back. Here there is a mental shift. There is no longer a yielding, but a responding. Lifting off and pushing away from the floor. Welcome the floor then respond to the floor, press, push, twist into, and rotate from.

To look at the practice of yoga postures, we start with the placement of the feet, or other body parts touching the floor and build from there. If we have done our work with the foundation, the rest of the body (posture) falls into place. We need to move down before we can lift up and away from the floor. Working like this, consistently over time we build strength and stamina and give time for the body to change and open. There is stability in the foundation we are laying down, reinforced each time we practice.

The effects of being grounded are more than just physical. When we are grounded there is certainty, confidence and presence, we feel centred and balanced. When we get out of our head and into the present moment problems appear to be smaller. There

is a trilogy that come to work together. The body, the breath and the mind synchronise. Work with any two and the third will follow.

The analogy of a tree is very symbolic. From the seed a root appears and grows down. Shortly after the shoot appears and grows up. It continues in this way, spreading down roots and out branches. To give the tree added stability it also has a subtle spiral, to give it torque, strength when it bends in the wind. We can learn to do the same. BKS Iyengar calls the capacity of the tree to grow up, away from gravity “grace”. These principles are the same in whatever posture you choose, but in the more difficult postures like arm balances, it is even more pronounced. 

 If you would like to explore this further my workshop in March might interest you. This workshop will help you understand your foundation in a range of postures, why this is important and how this will assist you. How to build from the ground up. How to facilitate co-activation of opposing muscle groups to build strength and stability and stretch safely.

The benefits are not just physical. Grounding connects us to our surroundings, to the earth, to something bigger than ourselves. The heart opens and problems seems smaller when we are out of our head, in the body and present.

Need some grounding? If you can’t get to your yoga mat get into nature, go for a walk, feel your feet connect with the ground. Walk on the beach or grass. Be in the moment. Once you are grounded, then those other yoga cliches balanced and centred will come, but I’ll leave those for another time…… 

Posted 466 weeks ago