Yoga Groundedness Spaciousness

YOU ARE NOT SEPARATE FROM THE EARTH; YOU ARE THE EARTH

“You are not separate from the Earth; you are of the Earth. And grounding means touching the ground, really touching it. Let the natural expression of the Earth rise up through your body. And then, from that groundedness, begin to move, and to grow, just as a tree grows taller by first extending its roots. Your feet provide the foundation for all your standing poses. So, plant your feet. Imprint them on the ground. Enmesh your feet in the Earth like the shallow roots of a giant Sequoia. Feel the weightedness of your entire body falling into the ground through your feet. For without a foundation, there can be no rising. The standing poses are the poses that teach you how to connect to the Earth and draw energy up through your feet and legs into the rest of your body. Through them, you rediscover the true nature of your legs, both as roots and as movers. These poses help you align your feet and legs in relation to your pelvis and spine which is fundamental to integrating your entire body.

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Feet as gateways to groundedness practice

Come to an easy sitting position on the ground. Sit with a tall spine and allow your shoulders to drop towards Mother Earth easily. Reach with your right fingers to your left toes and interlace your fingertips right between the toes. Reach with your left fingers to your right toes and interlace your fingers in between the toes. Form a ring with your thumb and index fingers right around your big toes to complete the interconnectedness. Sit here while visualizing that through the left hand you’re drawing up nourishment such as water, nutrients, and minerals via the foot. These nourishments support your core, your heart, and your mind just like roots support their trunk, branches, and leaves. Pause and contemplate for a few moments. Now bring your attention to the other arm, hand, fingers, and toes. Now allow gratitude for the foot to flow through your right fingertips, as it helps distribute and support the weight of the entire body and assists you with standing, walking, and running. Contemplate for a few moments how your feet make your daily life easier. Pause.

By acknowledging the many tasks our feet do for us, we can establish our own root system which provides a structural foundation for the whole body.

While studying kinesiology, I came across an interesting chapter. The chapter was about how a bunion can eventually cause shoulder pain. A simple misalignment of the foot can throw off the whole kinetic chain and lead to discomfort in the upper body. In my opinion, we don’t pay enough attention to our feet. We wear tennis shoes, tight-soled leather shoes, and high heels and then we complain about back pain and neck pain. Feet are so important for a healthy body; they not only give structural alignment but also help regulate the nervous system, increase circulation, and improve respiration.

Grounding through pressure points

Gentle and sustained pressure on certain points of the foot can help provide grounding. For me, pressure points give an instant feeling of groundedness. Pain always calls for the right amount of mindfulness in our lives. The middle of the foot point provides grounding when we experience stress, agitation, or anxiety. You can do this technique in the following two ways. For starting yogis, you may sit on a chair and place a tennis ball underfoot. I would like for you to place your foot over a tennis ball. Roll the ball to the middle of your foot and keep the heel on the ground. This point should feel a little or a lot tender. Now, pump your foot on the tennis ball just like you were pumping a gas pedal. Take your time and experiment. You may do this exercise very slowly, or you may do it more intensely. Once you experience softening on the middle of the foot point, switch sides.

If you’re a seasoned yogi, you may sit in a hero position. Come to all fours and while untucking the toes, sit back on your heels. If you need any elevation, you may place a block between your heels. Make fists out of your hands and start leaning back until your fists reach the soles of your feet. Now start digging your knuckles into the middle of the foot, right into the sensitive area and release once you feel enough softening. Then extend the legs out to the front and observe any changes felt in the feet and throughout the body.

Samastihiti: standing with awareness practice to tree pose

It’s never too late to learn the right way to stand. Yoga also gives us an opportunity to use our feet bare and initiate wakefulness of the small bones and ligaments of the feet. Stand with your feet parallel to each other. I like to use the instruction “Picture yourself standing on skis,” as in Houston we don’t get any snow. In Hungary, we got a lot more. When you hold the feet parallel to each other, it creates the right structure for the rest of the kinetic chain. It’s important to find the four points of the soles of the foot which bears the weight of the body. By equally pressing into these points, you can help balance the body more efficiently. See, if the weight rests on all four points of each foot. The ball mounts of the big toes and little toes, and the inner and outer edges of the heels. Now press the ball mounts of the big toes into the floor and lift the little toes. This action will activate the legs and move the balance to your heels. Tuck your tailbone under and feel your core engaging a little bit more. Draw the shoulders down and away from the ears and place your hands in front of the chest. Press the tips of the fingers against each other, creating a sense of connectedness in the heart center. Now lower your arms by your side. Visualize that you’re standing on top of a mountain. What is it like on top of your mountain? Is the sun shining? What can you see below? Take a few moments for visualization. Don’t force images to appear, just let yourself go. Close your eyes, inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth. Making a HAAAA sound. Repeat this two more times. Now you’re grounded and ready to send roots deep down into the Earth. Visualize yourself as a very strong, powerful tree. Press down through the right foot and bring your left foot against the ankle. Assist the balance with your big toes. When you’re ready, you may move the foot up to your calf or to the inseam of your thigh. Keep gazing at one point to hold the balance. After five breaths, lower your left foot to meet the right and repeat every step on the other side. Once five breaths are completed, move onto four breaths on each side, then three until you reach Samastihiti. Stand with awareness and notice any sensation which may arise.

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