Grounding is extraordinarily important. Whenever I am feeling anxious, flighty, or nervous I realize that I am not able to live presently, to enjoy life, and savor each moment—delightful or terrible.
When we practice grounding and presence we calm our minds and stimulate our Muladhara (root/first) Chakra, which governs the right to belong, the right to abundance in all areas, and our ability to believe in and create a strong foundation for our lives in all contexts.
When I’m feeling unclear or unable to calm down my favorite way to ground is with deep hip openers, especially standing poses.
I like to do this for a few reasons. Opening the hips is one of the best ways to clear old wounding, or unnecessary stored emotions. Taking care of our hips emotionally (which also brings about hip health physically) by opening them to release old emotion and negative energies, and taking care of them physically by exercising them, rotating the joints, and keeping them supple is vital for a joyful life, a peaceful mind, and healthy aging (so that we may avoid the ever popular hip replacement!).
Not only does sinking into the hips bring all of the above benefits, but in order to practice standing openers we must truly attach our feet to the ground. We must imagine the roots growing from them into the floor (a wonderful visualization for both grounding and your Muladhara), and begin to notice the way they may tilt. Are all four corners rooted, resting, and strong? Or do you teeter or lean one way or the other?
Noticing these subtle shifts is one of the keys of body communication, hearing and recognizing how you feel; where you are placed in space. Eventually you’ll be able to not only self adjust a warrior 3, but you’ll know when you want to eat greens or ice cream, you’ll know when you need to rest and when it’s time to party—you’ll k now and hear yourself because you’ll know and hear your body.
The practice of presence appears when we breathe through the unfamiliar sensation of opening the hips. The presence comes from allowing ourselves to sink into an often ignored part of ourselves (the hip), therefore sinking into an often ignored part of ourselves off the mat or in life. Hip openers and concentrating on truly sinking down into them also bring about a new kind of breath that is deep and mindfully sent to the places of discomfort, to the places needing to create space.
Students, especially new students, often dislike hip openers because they can be pretty uncomfortable (I know I did). But that is their beauty; that is why they can inspire a breath of peace and calm to wash over us. Hip openers teach us how to relax into discomfort, they teach us how to find joy and space in discomfort so that off the mat we’re better equipped to deal with annoyances, anger, or frustration; if you can breathe through a deep hip opener, you can breathe through unpleasant interactions, traffic, or whatever else may arise.
Plus, after a while, they become the most juicy, delightful experience you can ask for (at least for me they have!)
Hip openers ground us through their demand of focused attention, they ground us because they allow our feet to support us fully engaged and rooted; fully acknowledged.
They ground us because we sink into them like magnets drawn toward the earth, allowing us to drop and settle into the present moment; feeling and accepting every sensation that arises from body to mind and mind to body.
They teach us to pause, remain calm, and become friends with uncomfortable sensation (all which quiets the mind). By enhancing our breath and depth they bring us to mother earth, again quelling an anxious or over active mind; they clear out the debris for prana and give us the gift of presence.
Create space and enjoy your life by sinking into presence and grounding into calm.
om shanti + blessed be!