Now we’ve dug into our ground, let’s explore re-establishing our base when we uproot ourselves. In our practice, we learn to fluidly re-establish new roots as we move from one asana to the next; to not let it throw us off balance and disturb our sense of stability and harmony. As you move and re-ground, assess whether you are planting yourself optimally, or whether you can make small changes to get better purchase. Sense and feel into it, adjust as needed. And from strong roots, trust in your ability to extend away from your firm base, with a calm vitality, enjoying where it takes you.
How do we know if we are well grounded? What does it provide us with? Consider how we may feel when we lose our ground, when we feel uprooted: insecure, a need to be on our guard, wary and defensive, vulnerable. We may find ourselves being overly critical of ourselves and perhaps others. Or we may latch onto a mooring to make us feel more stable. This could be friends, familiar routines, even food that soothes us.
What do we associate with a sense of being well grounded? A sense of vitality yet with inner calm, comfortable in our own skin, a sense of openness and trusting, ability to stand on our own two feet.
So in your asana practice, be well grounded, notice if you start to lose your ground and stand firm again. Explore ways to maximise this sense of grounding, embody it. Breathe... feel your connection to the earth and rely on it, use it, play with it, learn how to maximise it within each asana. Create firm roots for long shoots.
Monday night Happy Hour Yoga has a new, slightly later start time. From Monday 17 August, class begins at 5:45. Drop in welcome with pre registration so come along and give it a try! Full timetable and venue details at http://www.yogawell.biz/class-timetable.html
In classes last week, I noticed students exploring within the poses and making discoveries, finding new space. So we stay with this theme and work with different asanas.
If we keep knocking on the same closed door, sometimes we have to turn away from it and find another way in. Then maybe we can open that door from the inside. Notice, challenge, change. Play in your poses. Shake it up. Keep a light heart and have some fun!
In our practice as in our lives, we can sometimes feel compressed; no space to move, our breath feels constricted. So we explore ways to make some space.
I recently was reminded of a very insightful comment: yoga is not about using the body to get into the pose: it is about using the pose to get into the body. So the pose is just a tool, a device to make us notice, to learn about our bodies but also our minds and our emotions.
We can use a pose to explore this idea of finding space. Take Trikonasana for example. Often, a student will have their lower waist contracted, more a lateral bend than parallel to the floor- their lower hip and armpit are moving toward each other rather than away. Where can they find the space to lengthen the bottom waist? Well, that depends on where the resistance is coming from, and it is likely not in the waist!
Our awareness needs to move away from this area as we explore making changes elsewhere. So what happens if the front knee is well bent- is there now more room to lengthen through the side body? What about changing the distance of the back foot (closer, further): any difference? Now try pressing through the front foot to drive the lower hip away toward the back of the mat whilst anchoring through the back foot to energise along the spine to the crown of the head: direct the armpit and all along that lower waist in the direction of the front of the mat. Can you feel more stretch and length: more space between each of those lower ribs?
Space in a target area can be created by decreasing the depth of the pose in other areas. Once your body and mind is able to connect with this feeling of openness and length, then you can think about gradually deepening other areas, aware of when that space starts diminishing, stopping at that point and working there with the breath. When the body gets accustomed to it, there may be the potential to move a little deeper again- maybe today, maybe next time.
So too if we feel hemmed in by our thoughts or emotions, we can be aware of it, and move our awareness away from it to somewhere else that helps us. This may be focusing on the breath, or a peaceful image, or a positive and affirming thought that opens us up again. Notice, challenge, change. Find a way to make some space.
Ruth is a yoga therapist and yoga teacher based in Cheltenham, UK. She emphasises yoga as a tool for well-being, for individuals and in her classes, in person or via zoom.