Among the many ways yoga can change your life is it teaches you to get grounded when life tries to topple you over. Like anything worth achieving, it takes trial and error, failure and practice to hone this skill.
Why is it important to get grounded?
Things change all the time. Every day, the unexpected happens or has the potential to happen. Without a solid foundation, we can easily topple off course. When things don’t go as planned, it’s not always clear how to respond. It may be easy to panic.
In yoga, we learn over time how to have a solid foundation and still be flexible. We learn the tools to go with the flow without falling to pieces
when life tries to knock us off course. We might experience some bumps and bruises, but we’ll still be standing in the end. (Sometimes, we’ll be standing on our heads.) Once we know how to get grounded, we can face new challenges with less fear.
Yoga poses to get grounded and stay flexible
Grounding poses in yoga include mountain pose, downward facing dog and, eventually, handstand. Yoga teachers tell us these poses strengthen our connection to the earth by rooting us into the ground through our feet (in mountain pose), through our hands and shoulders (in handstand) or through our hands, shoulders and feet (in downward facing dog). Other grounding poses include tree pose, standing forward bend, warrior, hero’s pose and even child’s pose.
The important thing about most grounding poses is that, although we root firmly, we are also able to sway. This is easier to learn with poses like tree, warrior and handstand, poses in which we’re often a bit shaky, especially when first learning them.
Tree pose: swaying in the wind
Tree pose is an excellent example of grounding with room to sway. Like mountain pose, which is a steadier grounding pose, the idea is to root through the ground. But in tree we balance on one foot. That can make it feel less steady than mountain, in which we stand on both legs.
Over time, most yogis learn how to ground into the earth in tree while swaying at the same time. Then one day, the connection to real life becomes more than a metaphor. I can’t explain how this happens; I only know that it does happen if you practice long enough.
Turning upside down
During the first few years I practiced yoga, the idea that I’d ever be able to do a headstand or handstand did not even enter my mind. I did mostly gentle yoga to stay calm and centered (which is still among the things I value most about my practice). Then one fall day, I turned upside down. Usually, I did a more modified inversion (shoulder stand or legs up the wall) when the rest of the class did headstand. But on this day, my feet reached for the sky.
The day I did that first headstand, a friend had just asked me a question for an article she was writing. It was close to Halloween, and the article was about “scary” poses. She asked what pose I was most afraid to try, and my answer was headstand.
An hour later, I walked into class knowing it would be the day I faced my fear. Of course, I had assistance from the teacher; it was at least a few more classes before I could do a headstand on my own (with the wall a few inches away just in case).
A few months later, I had an opportunity to attempt handstand for the first time. Until that day, I hadn’t even been in a class where handstand was part of the practice. This time, it didn’t go well. I never returned to that class or teacher again. But soon after, the stars aligned and I found a more helpful teacher who guided me through the pose in a more grounded way.
In inversions like headstand and handstand, we turn upside down. Though we ground through our hands and shoulders instead of our feet and legs, we must still find a way to stay rooted and strong so we don’t fall over. Sometimes we do fall over. Eventually we fall over less frequently and then, hardly ever if at all.
Then in yoga, as in life, there are new challenges. Next up for me is to do either of these inversions in the middle of a room instead of inches from the wall. Perhaps I’ll reach that milestone soon. But whatever happens, I know the important thing is to stay grounded and face the fear, whether I’m able to do the pose or not. The important thing, at least at first, is finding the courage to try.
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I’m Maria, devoted yogini and author of Yoga Circles. I’m a writer, editor, and content marketing creator. I help small businesses, wellness brands, teachers, and authors publish books, develop marketing strategies, and communicate effectively in writing. Visit my website (link below) to learn how I can help you connect with more readers, clients, and students!