With a wobbly base, we’ll feel insecure no matter how tall we stand.
In yoga, we focus a lot of attention on grounding, this goes both physically and mentally.
Try this in any standing yoga pose (or stand up right now) feel all the different points on your feet that are touching the ground right now. Try to be as specific as you can: It can be helpful to lift the toes, spread them apart, and place them back on the ground to really feel the connection.
Is the heel resting on its inner edge, or its outer edge, or the cushy middle? Is the ankle tipping to one side or the other, putting weight on a certain side of the arch? Take notes, without judging.
From there, let the rest of your body relax into the ground, through this connection to the floor. Feel the heaviness of the shins and calves resting onto the ankle. Feel the weight of the knee and thigh bones resting down into gravity.
Feel the weight of the hips, and the abdomen, resting into the ground (or your chair). If there are any other points of contact with the ground, slowly locate them and settle them into their seats. You can nestle the two sit bones downward, as if you’re plugging a light plug into its socket. Let the spine and the head rest down towards this stable base.
After going through your body, you might feel a sense of calm, grounded, wash over you. What actually happened was you bringing your awareness to the now, to the real world, to sensations happening right now.
Being aware of how we feel and not let our thoughts run around plays a big role in our mental health, our stress levels, our sense of what matters and who we are.
When we find a connection to the earth, we connect to something much, much larger than ourselves. We remember that we’re not isolated egos, floating in space; we’re glued to a huge planet that feeds us and shelters us. Our problems seem smaller; we’re part of an ecosystem, and an expansive timeline.
Once we have a sturdy base, our confidence will grow as we feel safe and sure of ourselves. But sometimes being grounded can make us a little bit lazy.
When we have your feet firmly planted on the floor and your mind in the now, movement, change and future plans might feel a bit uncomfortable. We know what we have now, so the effort and courage to keep moving forward can sometimes fade slightly.
This is where balance is the key
At the same time as your ground your feet down, lengthen your spine up. Imagine that you are a jellyfish swimming up to the surface, lead with your head, reaching it up and allow the rest of your body to softly draw down.
To keep length in our spine and the rest of our body is crucial for our posture, it improves our blood flow and digestive system, our breathing becomes easier and deeper. With our bones stacked properly on top of each other, the strain on muscles and ligaments lessens and we can move through our life with less effort and pain.
If our muscles are tight they will start pulling on the bones they are attached to, drawing them out of alignment. Here the muscles have to work harder to keep us upright, making them even tighter. By stretching and lengthening our muscles in yoga we slowly decrease the pull and ease up the built-up tension on our bones.
By reaching our head higher we also shift our mind into a more positive and creative state of mind. There are several studies on the subject, connecting our physical posture to our mood and energy levels.
The fact that it is easier to breath when sitting up tall can easily be related to higher energy levels, improved memory and concentration. By consciously relaxing our shoulders back and down, the brain will automatically think that we are safe, which leads to less stress hormones, better confidence and a more energized mind, which will give us the energy to keep exploring, evolving and growing.