Ever have one of those days where you're feeling spacey and so tied up in your thoughts that you forget to eat or smile or dance? Or maybe you're feeling insecure and out of sorts? You can't see, but my hand is raised. I've definitely had days like that. The bad news is that I still hang out a bit too much in my head (even after all these years of yoga). The good news is that I have more awareness around it so I can actually do something about it.
Ground with Asana
If you're a chakra fan, then you know that the first chakra is about grounding. When I start noticing that I'm a bit too much in my head, I focus on grounding myself. I might focus more on standing poses like Tree (one of my favorites), Warrior, and Half Moon (I also love Kundalini Sufi Grinds for grounding myself). As I spend some breaths hanging out in these poses, I focus on my energy rooting down to the earth and the opposite energy projecting up through the sky. By the time I'm done with those three poses, I'm not only feeling a bit more rooted but I'm also feeling taller and more expansive.
Other Ways to Ground Yourself
Ironically though, my favorite ways of grounding don't typically focus on asana. Here's how I get back in touch with that first chakra:
- Working the foot's fascia -- the easiest and quickest way to bring my attention to my roots is massaging my feet with a tennis ball. I bought 2 dog toy tennis balls (they're not as squishy as regular tennis balls) and I use them on my feet all the time (I simply put the ball under my foot and press my foot down and roll the tennis ball on the bottoms of my feet -- ah, heaven!). I don't just do this when I feel the need to ground, I also do it while I'm sitting at my desk or watching TV.
- Horse Stance -- once my feet have been massaged by a tennis ball, they seem to lay so much flatter on the ground (not to mention that they feel stress-free). That's when I love to do a simple horse stance with my arms raised in a tree hugging position. I stand with my feet about hip's width apart, bend my knees slightly and tuck my pelvis. I then raise both arms up in front of me (palms facing me) like I'm hugging a tree. I'll typically stay in this stance for 1-5 minutes. This is also a great lower body strengthener.
- Stomping -- another favorite thing of mine is stomping my bare feet on the floor (luckily I have hardwood floors, which is best for this). I put on some drumming music and literally stomp (or stamp, if you prefer) my feet on the ground.
- Body Drops -- I love this Kundalini move! It provides a sense of grounding and emotional release. Start with 20 and work your way up to 50. Sit in Easy Pose. Lift yourself up (you don't have to lift your knees and feet off the ground but use your abdominal muscles as you lift) on an inhale with either your fists or your fingers tented on the mat and then let yourself drop down as you exhale. For a little "extra," let out a loud HA as you make contact with the floor.
- Windshield Wipe the Feet -- I love to do this because it brings my energy down, loosens the hip area and is a great way to calm down before sleep. Lie down with your legs and feet together or a few inches apart. Vigorously move the feet out to the side and back together (I like when the sides of my feet actually bang together).
- Get Your Feet on the Earth -- when the weather is nice, I like to take about 10 minutes to walk around barefoot on the earth. I walk slowly -- like a walking meditation -- and focus on feeling the grass/earth beneath my feet. Sometimes I even do a barefoot Horse Stance on the deck or on the grass.
And since we're on the topic of feet and being barefoot...
Be Kind to Your Feet
I prefer to be barefoot, but of course that's not always feasible. When I need to wear shoes, I try to wear ones that are good for my feet. I especially love shoes that mimic being barefoot. Vibram 5 Fingers are my favorites. If you're tired of squeezing your feet into shoes that look pretty but feel awful, check out this wonderful list of foot-friendly shoes (and many of those listed are pretty too!). This list was compiled by a podiatrist who knows his stuff.
The Earth Mudra
The Definitive Grounding Resource
If you'd like some more ideas for how to ground yourself, this is my favorite resource: Grounding -- Root Yourself Into the Earth. There are a number of links with everything from tips to meditation to exercises to help you strengthen your first chakra.