During spring, there’s no better time to connect to the earth. Steady, rooted poses are a great way to bring grounding to this season of growth. Begin your practice by focusing on your breath to balance the energy in your body and get connected to yourself.
Child’s pose (Balasana)
Come to your mat in Child’s Pose, with your knees wide and toes together, chest pressing towards the ground, your arms extended out in front of you, and your forehead resting on the ground or a blanket. Make sure you feel comfortable and supported by the earth or props. Become aware of every part of your body that is touching the ground beneath you, and as you exhale, feel your body relax, and sink deeper into the pose. Close your eyes. Stay until you feel centered and grounded. You can always come back to this pose at any point in your practice.
Hero Pose (Virasana)
Kneel on the ground. If needed use a folded blanket or bolster to wedge between your calves and thighs for added height. If you are sitting on your heels, bring your inner knees to touch, and slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet pressing flat into the floor. If your seat doesn’t comfortably rest on the floor or you feel any sensation in your knees, raise yourself onto a block placed between the feet, making sure both sitting bones are supported evenly. Lay your hands in your lap with palms facing down to ground down. Breathe.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Warrior II requires you to become the warrior—with a steadfast commitment to the pose, strengthening your legs and opening your pelvis to deepen your connection to the earth. Bring your legs wide, around 3.5 feet apart. Turn one foot to face the front of your mat, and bend your knee so your knee is directly stacked over your ankle. Keep your back leg long and straight. Feel your connection to your mat, and the ground beneath your mat, as you press the four corners of each foot into the floor. As you breathe, allow your hips to deepen, feeling the heaviness of the earth. Root down through the earth, and draw the earth’s energy up through your legs, to support your entire body.
Tree Pose (Vrkasana)
Beginning in Tadasana, bring your right foot to the inside of your left leg by opening through the right hip. Make sure to avoid putting any pressure on the knee with your foot. If balancing is challenging today, rest your toes on the ground, keeping the upper thigh pressing out and back. Press all four corners of your feet into the ground beneath you, and feel your legs, waist and entire body extend upwards to the sky. Play with arm variations here, bringing them to the heart, reaching out to the sides, or up to the sky. If you feel like a challenge, stand on a block, and close your eyes to test your balance. Place your foot back onto the floor after five breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Step your feet wide, so when your arms are reached out to the sides your ankles are directly below your wrists. Bring your hands to your hips and keep a straight spine by engaging your core muscles. Fold forward, to bring the crown of your head towards the ground. Place your hands on the ground or on blocks. Let your torso lengthen towards the ground. You may feel a stretch in your hamstrings or lower back, and your neck should be relaxed. If your head is close to the floor you can use a block or blanket to help connect the crown of your head to the earth. Lift the arches of your feet to feel the outer edge of each foot pressing into the ground with your hips lifting towards the sky. To come out of the pose, bring your hands back to your hips and engage your core. Press into the ground to lift your torso back to an upright position. You can repeat this pose, or come to stand in tadasana at the front of your mat.
Warrior III Variation or Airplane Pose (Virabhadrasana III)
From a high runner’s lunge, transfer your weight to your front leg––feel it root down into the ground and de-weight your back leg. With your hands at your heart, bring your back leg up to hip height, and feel your hips square down to the earth and your inner upper thigh rolling up. Engage both legs equally and feel their strength supporting you as you turn your floating toes to the ground. Keep your hands at heart centre, or release them behind you like wings. Use the strength of your standing leg to root into the ground.
Yogi Squat (Malasana)
Bring your feet to mat width, and point your toes out diagonally. Slowly lower your hips towards the floor. If your heels lift off the mat, place a blanket or chip foam block under your heels, and press the entire foot towards downward. If your knees are sensitive or have any sensation in this pose, sit on a block. This still gives you the grounding benefits to the pose, with less pressure on your joints. Bring your hands to prayer at the heart, and press your elbows to the inner thighs. Feel your back lengthen, sending your tailbone towards the ground and your head towards the sky. To come out of the pose, bring your seat to the floor, or push back up to standing.
Seated Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
Sitting in dandasana, with your sitting bones placed evenly into the ground and feet extended ahead of you, bring your right foot to rest on the floor beside your upper thigh. Then, like in tree pose, allow your knee to open out to the side with the sole of the foot pressing into the left inner upper thigh. Turn your torso so it is facing the extended leg, and lift the torso as you ground the thighs into the floor. You can stay here, using a strap over your foot to help you lengthen the spine evenly and or begin to fold forwards from the base of the spine, maintaining a flat back. Your lower belly should touch the thigh first, the head last. Breathe here, and when you are ready, switch sides.
Come to lie on your back with your feet a comfortable width apart. Feel the weight of your body sinking into your ground. Become aware of each body part that is touching the floor, and feel yourself growing heavier and heavier. Your body is symmetrical and relaxed, your eyes closed. If you like, place a blanket over your body, or sandbags on your upper thighs to feel especially grounded and connected to the earth.
Gratitude is an attitude that can be cultivated not only around Thanksgiving for blessings in our lives, but during each moment of life — towards ourselves! Our brains are programmed to protect and to survive, and when we live a life out in the world it is nearly impossible to avoid feelings of self-judgment or unworthiness.