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Tune into Your Body with These 9 Grounding Yoga Poses

Elisha Thompson
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The word ground arises frequently in the yoga community and yoga classes. But what exactly does that mean?
 
If you routinely practice yoga, you’ll definitely hear the word in class. We are cued to “ground down through the four corners of your feet” in standing poses, “ground your sit bones into the earth” in seated poses, and “ground yourself” when you meditate. Despite the frequent use of the word, many people are not entirely aware of what it means to “ground.”
 

Grounding refers to more than a state of being in a pose. It refers to an overall state of well-being.

 
Busy, stressful schedules often require that you move quickly and spend a great deal of time thinking critically. Spending so much time in your head creates an upward movement of energy into the mind, which can leave you feeling imbalanced, scattered, confused, and emotionally unstable.
 
Yet, there is a solution to this imbalance: you can ground yourself by focusing on connecting your body with the earth – and grounding into the earth – in your yoga practice.
 

These 9 yoga poses and techniques can help you to ground both physically and mentally:

 

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

To breathe consciously is a powerful act. The process of breathing falls at the intersection of your voluntary nervous system (conscious acts) and your autonomic nervous system (unconscious acts). Pranayama, or conscious breathing, can help to balance the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and relax) branches of the nervous system.
 
Alternate Nostril Breathing balances the two hemispheres (left and right) of the brain and body, resulting in a balance in your physical and mental well-being. While practicing this technique, focus on feeling your sit bones connect with the earth.
 
nadi-shodhana
 

How to Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing:

  • Sit in a comfortable seated position. Ensure that your spine is straight and roll your shoulders down your back
  • Rest your left hand on your left knee or lap
  • Bring your index and middle finger of your right hand into a “peace sign” and either fold them into your palm or rest them on the bridge of your nose
  • Place your thumb gently on your right nostril and your ring and pinky fingers onto your left nostril
  • Begin with an exhale out of both nostrils
  • Close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through your left nostril. Pause for a moment
  • Close your left nostril with your ring and pinky fingers
  • Release the right nostril and exhale through it. Pause for a moment
  • Inhale through the right nostril. Close the right nostril with your thumb. Pause
  • Release your left nostril and exhale through it

 
This completes one round of Nadi Shodhana. Repeat this pattern for 5 to 8 rounds.
 
 

2. Seated Cat-Cow Pose or Upavistha Bitilasana Marjaryasana

The flow between Cat and Cow poses not only helps awaken and bring more flexibility into the spinal column, but also strengthens the Mula Bandha (or the pelvic floor muscles). Cat-Cow Pose also helps to relieve stress and establish emotional balance, which promotes a feeling of groundedness.
 
While in this pose, really focus on grounding your sit bones into the earth. Perhaps, even visualize roots extending from the base of your spine down into the ground all the way to the core of the earth.
 
seated-cat-cow
 

How to Practice Seated Cat-Cow:

  • Find a comfortable seat with the soles of your feet on the floor
  • Place your hands on your upper shins
  • On your inhale, roll toward the front of your pelvis, drawing your heart forward and your gaze towards the sky
  • On your exhale, rock to the back of your pelvis, rounding your spine and releasing your chin towards your chest

Repeat this flow for at least a minute, or up to 3 minutes if you desire more.
 
 

3. Mountain Pose or Tadasana

Tadasana is a wonderful grounding pose as it provides an opportunity for you to feel steady and unshakable, much like a mountain. While much of your body is engaged in Tadasana, there is little complication in this pose so take the moment to rest and be present.

On your inhale, focus on visualizing energy drawing up through your feet and through the crown of your head. On the exhale, imagine that energy moving down from the universe into crown of your head, and down to the core of the earth, stabilizing and grounding you.
 
tadasana-pose
 

How to Practice Mountain Pose:

  • Stand with your feet either hip-width distance apart or with the big toes touching and your heels slightly apart
  • Spread your toes wide
  • Engage your quadriceps by lifting your kneecaps up the thighs
  • Draw in your navel towards your spine
  • Send your shoulder blades down your back
  • Tuck your tailbone so you aren’t sticking your booty out

Close your eyes and breathe deeply here for as long as you like.
 

 

4. Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana

In Downward Facing Dog, you are rooted through both the hands and the feet. This makes it an incredibly grounding posture. You literally draw energy up through the hands and feet, down the spine to the tailbone, awakening Muladhara Chakra or Root Chakra. This chakra represents earth element, which helps you to feel grounded and stable.
 
Want to learn more about the chakras? Read An Introduction to the Chakras.
 
Down-Dog
 

How to Practice Downward Facing Dog:

  • From Table Top pose, extend your hips to the sky
  • Hands should be shoulder distance apart and your feet should be hip distance apart
  • Spread your fingers out wide
  • Root down through the base of your thumb and forefinger
  • Rotate your heels slightly outward. Engage your quadriceps and drop your heels toward the mat
  • Tuck your chin so you are looking at the knee caps but ensure your spine is straight

 
Stay in Downward Facing Dog for anywhere from 5 breaths to 5 minutes. Listen to your body and go easy on yourself if you grow tired.
 
 

5. Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II

Holding Warrior II for a couple of minutes can be helpful if you are feeling scattered. It is a wonderful pose to help you feel stable, both physically and emotionally. Warrior II can balance and quiet an overactive mind, helping you to feel grounded and empowered.
 
Warrior-2
 

How to Practice Warrior II Pose:

  • From Mountain Pose, step back with the left foot and place it at a 90 degree angle
  • Bend deep into the right (front) knee and stack it directly over your ankle
  • Align your heels (align with your back heel or the center of your front arch)
  • Ground the blade of your back foot into the mat and avoid dumping into the arch of the foot
  • Avoid allowing the front knee to rotate inward. Instead, press is slightly toward the pinky toe edge of your foot
  • Engage both quadriceps
  • Roll your shoulder blades down your back and extend both arms out with the eyes of your elbows facing skyward
  • Pull your navel in towards your spine and slightly tuck in the tailbone
  • Square off your chest and shoulders with your hips and gaze at the tips of your front fingers
  • Start over and practice Warrior II on your second side

 
You can flow between each side with a Chaturanga in between or hold each side for a few minutes. Stay in it as long as you deem necessary.
 
 

6. Triangle Pose or Trikonasana

Another root chakra pose, Trikonasana is a stabilizing pose. The subtle twist in the spine creates a light and soothing feeling around the heart. In this pose, focus on letting go of emotional and physical tension from the body. This will allow you to feel stable and grounded.
 
Trikonasana-pose
 

How to Practice Triangle Pose:

  • From Warrior II, shorten your stance slightly and straighten the front leg
  • Check to ensure that your heels are aligned and that your back foot is at a 45-degree angle toward the front of your mat
  • Lean forward from the hips and begin to angle downwards so that your front hand comes to your shin, foot, a block or the floor
  • Engage your quadriceps on both legs and pull your navel towards the spine to protect the lower back
  • Don’t forget to practice Triangle Pose on the other side

 
Try closing your eyes, even just for a few seconds and see if you can maintain your balance. You can hold this pose on either side for as long as you like.
 
 

7. Tortoise Pose or Kurmasana

Many asanas were named after the qualities or shapes that ancient sages observed in nature. The tortoise withdraws into its shell when it feels threatened. Similarly, when you are in Kurmasana, you will likely feel yourself moving inward mentally.
 
When you are focused inward, your world becomes clearer and calmer, even as the world around is still in motion.
 
tortise-pose
 

How to Practice Tortoise:

  • This is a deep posture; ensure that your body is adequately warmed up before coming into this pose
  • From a wide-legged seated position, bend your knees with your feet flexed
  • Extend your chest and arms forward and down between your legs
  • Aim to bring your arms under your knees and to straighten your legs by pushing out through the heels
  • Tuck the chin to the chest and pull your navel towards the spine
  • Bend from the hips – use your hands to pull you forward if needed and try to get lower on each exhale
  • Spread the front of your chest and collarbones forward and down toward the floor

 
Stay in this deeply healing and nurturing pose for as long as your hips can handle. If you feel any sharp pinching or pain, back off immediately.
 
 

8. Pigeon Pose or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

The emotionally freeing benefits of Pigeon Pose helps to ground you through surrender. This pose helps to unlock deep-seated fears, trauma, and anxiety – releasing emotional tension often carried in the root and sacral chakras.
 
pigeon-pose
 

How to Practice Pigeon:

  • From Downward Facing Dog, lift your right leg to the sky
  • Bring your right knee to meet your right wrist and let your shin fall across the top of your mat (either at an angle or parallel to the top of your mat)
  • Flex your front foot to protect the knee
  • Make sure that the leg extended behind you is in one long line and that all five toenails are pressing into the mat
  • Square your hips and your torso to the front of your mat
  • If you feel comfortable thus far, hinge your torso forward toward the ground
  • Start over and practice Pigeon Pose on your second side

 
While you are in Pigeon Pose, breathe into any tight spots or tension and encourage the body to fully relax. You can stay in this pose as long as you like.
 
 

9. Corpse Pose or Savasana

It is said that Savasana, which requires little physical effort, is actually the hardest yoga pose to master. This is because you have to let go and remain present in the moment, focused on your body and your breath. However, this concentration helps you to relax and connect with your true self. And a true connection with yourself creates groundedness.
 

How to Practice Savasana:

  • Lay on your back on your mat
  • Release your ujjayi pranayama breath, now is the time to relax and do nothing
  • Allow your feet to roll out towards the sides of your mat
  • Stretch your arms out beside you, palms facing up
  • Be in the present moment

 
Stay in Savasana for as long as you like, and be sure to always leave room for this pose if you’re practicing at home. While it feels like you’re not doing anything, this is when the magic happens.
 
 
The many challenges that you face in your daily life can cause imbalances in your body, mind, and soul. The beautiful thing about yoga is that it is there for you any time that you need it. Yoga doesn’t require the perfect space, the perfect body, or the perfect amount of time.
 
It can be easy to let your practice slip when you are experiencing crazy deadlines, traveling, or during times of transition. Just remember that all you need is your body, your breath, and the willingness to give your body what it needs. Practice any or all of these poses when you need a little grounding.
 
Peace, love, and light.
 

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Elisha Thompson

Elisha Thompson has her masters in Creative Non-Fiction Writing from Arizona State University. She is also a newly certified yoga teacher and loving every minute of her practice. Her Miniature Pincher, Harley, is her pride and joy. Elisha can usually be found at her computer, working on her latest novel. She fully believes that love is all you need and will one day save the world.

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