Gentle Yoga Practices to Ground and Connect You
by Tara Mestre
Practicing yoga can be one of the best ways to reconnect you and bring you back down to earth if you’ve been spending a lot of time in your head.
A yoga practice can be done anywhere, and it certainly doesn’t need to be complicated. Some of the most powerful transformations occur when we are simply fully present in our bodies and not trying to force anything to happen.
The word yoga translates as ‘union’ and refers to the union of the mind and body. Our aim, if you can call it that, is to be present in our bodies and to quieten the mind. Through a gentle combination of breathing and movement, this can easily be achieved.
Try these simple practices to help ground and connect you. Practicing all three will amplify the benefits greatly, but you can also use pick out certain elements for a mini-practice when they feel helpful to you.
Please do check with your GP if you have any existing conditions, and never force a posture – if it doesn’t feel good, listen to your body! The more we listen to our bodies the more we are honouring exactly where we are right now, instead of forcing ourselves to go to a place that does not exist.
Grounding Yoga part 1 – Connecting
- Stand on a yoga mat, a blanket, or outside on the grass with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Keep your knees soft and allow your arms to hang gently down by your sides.
- Relax your jaw and shoulders.
- Bring awareness to your breathing without changing its pace or depth. Spend a few moments as an observer of your own breath. Notice the inhale and exhale and be aware of the cycle of breath that is continuously taking place.
- After a few rounds of breath, bring your awareness down to your feet. As you inhale slowly, lift your toes one-by-one or all at once and on the exhale slowly lower your toes back to the earth. Continue for 9 rounds of breath.
As you work with the pace of your own breath, this is a gentle way to not only connect movement with breath, but also to invite more prana (or energy) into the body. It re-enforces our connection to the earth – if you can practice outside, all the better!
Grounding Yoga part 2 – Welcoming
- On your next inhale, allow your arms to come out and up, palms coming together in a prayer pose above the head.
- As you exhale, draw the hands down past the crown of your head, third eye, throat, and back down towards your heart space.
- Closing your eyes, you can imagine that you are connecting the energies of the body with that of the elements that surround us. Your feet are connected to the earth and, moving from the heart space, a place of unconditional love and compassion, we extend out and connect to the qualities of expansion and growth as we connect to the elements of space and air.
- As we draw the hands back down, we are inviting those qualities to sit within our heart space, reminding us that we are always growing, expanding and changing. Repeat for a total of 5 breaths.
Grounding Yoga part 3 – Bringing the Heat
- On your next exhale, allow the body to gently fold forwards.
- Keeping your knees bent, bring your hands down to the earth and gently kneel down onto the ground below so that you come into an all-fours position.
- Ensure your shoulders are above your wrists and your hips above your knees. If you have any pain or discomfort in your knees or wrists, place a folded blanket underneath you to give better support.
- From this position, spread your fingers as wide as possible and gently press into your index finger and thumb. Imagine that you are protecting a very small, precious item in the palms of your hands so that they are slightly cupped.
- Connect to your breath and on your next inhale gently lift your head, chin and chest and allow the belly to drop towards the mat.
- As you exhale, curl the spine like a cat, gently rounding the back, drawing the belly to the back of the spine and dropping the chin to the chest. Move slowly with your breath, and feel how good it is to move and mobilise the spine in this way.
- On your next exhale, round the back and allow the buttocks to come to sit on the heels in Child’s pose.
- As you inhale, leading with your heart, scoop the body forward and keep the chest as close to the earth as possible to come forward onto your elbows in Cobra pose.
- Gently rise up and, exhaling, round the back and come to sit back on your heels in Child’s pose. Repeat this movement for 5 breaths.
This movement helps us to connect to earth an invites an element of fire into our practice. You may feel like more heat is being created in the body as we being to invite more prana into the practice. This is a lovely dynamic posture that can help to strengthen the arms and mobilise our spine.
Grounding Yoga part 4 – Surrendering
- Finally, slide the body forward so that you are fully extended on your mat.
- Place your hands in front of you, either in a prayer position or with palms facing up to the sky. Have your forehead resting on the ground. This is a prostration pose, and allows us to fully surrender ourselves to the support of the earth below. Try to stay in this posture for at least a few minutes, or as long as possible, to feel the full benefits of the pose and to complete your practice.
In this pose we are being invited to let go of the ego and, in a way, to bow down and offer yourself to the power of the earth below you. It is a soothing pose for those of us who suffer from digestive issues, and can also be very comforting for painful menstrual cramps.
Incorporating these simple practices into your day at any point during the day will help to connect you to the earth and to the universal energies that are always present.
These practices are gentle yet powerful ways for us to move into a place of embodied stillness, helping to relieve stress, reduce anxiety and, most perhaps most importantly, to reconnect us with our incredible bodies.
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