How Yoga Can Help You To Feel Grounded
It is important to feel grounded in order to connect effectively to the world around you. Yoga can
help you to achieve this.
What is yoga?
Literally translated from Sanskrit, the word means ‘connection’. One of the texts most widely
associated with yoga is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (compiled around the time of the 5 th century).
Therein Patanjali defines yoga as a method by which the seeker can learn to control the power
of their own thoughts in order to understand and connect with their true self.
From a hatha standpoint (which is the yogic discipline I’ll be drawing from in our discussion
today) there are several routes and methods you can explore in order to connect more fully with
yourself, balance your energies, and ultimately reach a place where you feel more grounded.
How yoga can help:
Hatha yoga promotes mindful movement and breathing excercises (asanas) as one avenue via
which one can establish a deeper focus and concentration with one’s self. Combined with
pranayama (breathing techniques), awareness and control of energies within the body (mudras
and bandhas), and through shat karma (purification and cleansing techniques) you can
eventually learn to understand and balance the energies present within your body.
In order to ascertain which specific techniques within these catergories will be most beneficial to
you, it will be useful to understand a little about ayurvedic doshas. There are three doshas in
total, each representing elements.
Kapha (representing earth and water) is our grounding dosha, and – as with all the doshas –
there are certain methods you can employ in order to balance these elements. The other two
doshas are pita (fire) and vata (air). If an individual has an imbalance of the first then they may
become driven, angry, or destructive (to name a handful of the fire traits). If they have to much
vata, on the other hand, they may feel listless, distracted or untethered. In either case,
increasing kapha can help you to balance these tendencies. Below, we’ll outline some of the
methods you can employ to help you achieve this.
Some kapha-increasing asanas which I’ll outline below include matsayasana (fish pose),
bhujangasana (cobra) or khandar asana (shoulder pose) to name a handful.
As a beginner, in order to practice fish pose you should begin by lying down on your back with
your legs together and straight along your mat. Proceed to slide your hands palm-down beneath
your buttocks and squeeze your shoulder blades together, drawing your elbows in towards your
body. Then gently bring your chin in towards your chest, direct your gaze towards your feet, and
at the same time bend your arms, pressing your elbows into the mat so that you can bring your
head, chest and shoulders away from the ground. If it feels comfortable to do so, you can gently
start to move your chin away from your chest here and gently bring the crown of your head to
rest upon the earth. Once you have mastered this pose and when your practice allows, you can
incorporate padmasana (lotus) into the asana if you so desire. This asana is good for relieving
constipation (kapha is responsible for the processing and digestion of food).
Fish pose is also a good way to improve the quality of your breath as if promotes deep breathing using the chest,
which is beneficial especially if you suffer from anxiety.
Another kapha-increasing asana is bhujangasana, a chest-opening pose. For cobra, first lie
down on your front with your legs together and the tops of your feet resting on the ground. Place
your hands beneath your shoulders and draw your elbows close towards your ribs so that they
point out behind you. From here, bring your forehead to rest onto the mat and relax your entire
body. Take a full breath in and out, then on an inhale lift your head, neck and chest away from
the mat. Engage your core and find a backbend here, keeping your hands on the mat to support
you and straightening your arms as much as is comfortable without lifting your public bone away
from the mat. To release from this asana, bend your elbows and lower first your navel, then your
chest, shoulders and forehead slowly onto the mat with an exhale. This asana massages the
abdominal organs such as the kidneys and liver, and aids digestion.
You can also practice this third exercise, kandhar asana, to promote kapha and to help you feel
more grounded. For shoulder pose you should begin by lying on your back with your knees bent
and your arms on the mat alongside your body. Bring your feet close enough to your buttocks
so that you can take hold of your heels and ensure that you keep your neck straight. As you
inhale, engage your core, engage your glutes, and start to raise yourself from the mat, lifing first
your coccyx and then gradually bringing the rest of the spine up away from the ground until only
your feet, shoulders, arms and head are connecting with the earth. To release, do so with an
exhale, gently lowering your upper back down first and the buttocks down last.
The three asanas outlined above are all back-bends and chest-openers, excercising the top
third of your body therefore promoting an increase of kapha.
Because you may not always be in a suitable place to practice these asanas, breathing
exercises may sometimes be more appropriate. Wherever you are, regardless of space
restrictions or any mobility issues, you can practice the yogic breathing technique that I’ll outline
below. This exercise is particularly good for helping you to feel grounded, especially if you suffer
from anxiety or stress.
For this, you can sit or lie in any comfortable position. Relax and breathe deeply, inhaling from
the abdomen slowly and soundlessly. Draw the breath all the way into the lungs, and then as
the inhale increases feel the chest begin to expand. Once fully expanded, take a little more air in
so that you can feel the breath gently moving up and lifting the collar bones, neck and shoulders
to complete the inhale. When you are ready to exhale, first relax the shoulders, then the chest,
and finally contract the diaphragm drawing it up and in until you’ve released as much air as you
can from your lungs. Repeat as many times as you like.
There are unlimited techniques you can employ to help you feel more grounded. Above, we’ve
discussed just a handful, but the options are extensive. Through combining kapha-increasing
asanas, grounding breathing techniques, and cleansing practices as much as you can within
your day-to-day life, you can work to ground yourself and your body through yoga. Additionally,
taking care of your diet and your body through the intake of ayuvedic foods and medicines can
also help you to achieve this balance. Look into kapha-increasing foods, and take note of which foodstuffs you should avoid based upon your dosha. Overall, be mindful. Be aware of how your
body is feeling, of your emotions, modify your practices accordingly, and behold the balance
and order which will come as a result.