Blog posts

The best yoga poses for grounding.

When we ground in yoga, we bring ourselves to the present moment. This happens when we bring all our awareness to one focus point. The best point to focus on is our body, because our body is always present.

Of course, when we talk about about grounding, the best body part to focus on is our feet. So let’s take a look at a four yoga poses that will help us ground well on and off the mat.

Grounding in yoga for change.

When it comes to transformation, we need to have a solid grasp of our foundation – as well as have a good foundation – to elicit that change. In yoga, we use the tool of grounding to help us through challenging moments.

As a preamble though, it’s good to know that challenges come in moments. We just need to survive that moment, and then we can move forward. After awhile, these challenging moments may have greater intervals between them.

And we overcome them, there is the sense of power (or Lakshmi) that we have, that we can draw upon the next time the challenge comes around.

What is grounding?

Grounding means many things in many disciplines, but in yoga, it means bringing ourselves to the present moment. What we seek to do when we bring ourselves to the present moment is to distance ourselves from the grippings of the past and of the future.

Think about it. When something challenges us, it usually is something that haunts us from the past, or something we seek in the future. So going to the example of cutting down coffee intake, if I am yearning for a cup of coffee, it’s my focus on future gratification that drives the moment. I am not focused on what’s happening right now. It is an opportunity to bring myself to the moment, what I am experiencing right now.

New Year, new you – making a change.

It’s the New Year! I don’t usually have New Year’s resolution, but this year, I have a big one. It’s to move away from being a yoga teacher, and move towards being a yoga visionary. What this means is basically moving away from working daily gigs to planning and implementing how I hope to serve you in the long-run. Shout-out to Kelly McHugh, founder of Digital Yoga Academy, for the inspiration!

What about you?

Are you planning to make changes for yourself. As a midlifer, we usually assess where we are and what we hope to achieve or acquire. Some of us hope to make changes to our health or wellness, some of us hope maybe work more in community work and give back to society.

Our midlife holds a myriad of opportunities because it really isn’t too late. The best thing about being a midlifer is we have a slew of experience behind and an accumulation of knowledge and wisdom. Plus, we have time to make changes, if we take the correct measures and are patient with ourselves.

Changing is as easy as you think.

Our mind isn’t only the bulwark of our transformation, but the fountain from which we draw our ability to change. For me, some things can be easier to change – for example, I had little problem giving up sugar and high-glycemic carbs and meat during my yoga teacher training. I still have little difficulty abstaining from these.

However, I do struggle with abstaining from coffee. Not that I want to give up coffee completely, but just reducing my intake. However, I tried alternating cups of decaffeinated with my daily intake (which is a lot!), and I found that this really helps.

Another change I find I struggle with my impatience and judgment while driving. But years of working with tools learnt from yoga and reiki has led me to be a lot more equanimous than I ever used to be. I am not 100% zen, but I am more zen than not, which is something I am really happy about.

Yoga poses for meditation.

Let’s explore some yoga poses for meditation, perhaps because these kind of seated yoga poses tend to be less flashy and popular, but belong in the yoga practice, and also lends something to our meditation.

As a precursor though, let me begin with stating that all yoga seated poses require core strength to maintain an upright spine, an open collar-bone and a lengthened back of neck.

Meditation with stories.

Once upon a time, there was a man who found his mind wondering when he meditated. Tried as he might, he couldn’t “still the mind” and found himself miles away daydreaming. He even found himself disappointed when his meditation timer rang, so engrossed was he in his stories.

Contemplation with stories, a form of Ignatian meditation, sounds like the type of meditation this guy should be doing.. Made famous by Saint Ignatius Loyola, this form of meditation (or reflection or prayer) can be liberating because we have the liberty to live a story during the time of our sitting practices.

As a backgrounder, Saint. Ignatius Loyola, born in 1491, was from a family of minor in Spain. He was seriously wounded during a battle with the French in 1521. During his convalescence, Ignatius was aroused through Christianity to do great things. Over time, Ignatius became skilled in spiritual direction, with his insights compiled in his book ‘The Spiritual Exercises’. Together with a small group of friends, Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, who are conceived to be ‚Äúcontemplatives in action”.

While this form of meditation may be rooted in Christianity, it can be used with any forms of stories, reflections, even poetry. The practice need not use religious texts at all, so let’s have an open heart and humbled mind to receive.

A yoga sequence based on Shiva stories.

Moving with yoga sequences based on the stories helps us to embody the capacities we reflect on in the tales. This may move us to greater reflection, and from there, greater clarity and calm within ourselves.

If you are feeling triggered all the time, easily blaming others and seeking clarity for yourself, we can use the stories to perhaps learn a little about our own story – what we tell ourselves, what others have told us, the things that have happened to us and how we responded – and how all this and so much more become part of our narrative.

With mindful reflection and movement through stories, there is potential to declutter. And that is how we slowly move towards clarity and calm for the long term.

Shiva’s stories in yoga.

There once was a woman who was curious to learn about what Shiva’s role in yoga practice was. She learnt that Shiva was considered to be the ‘ultimate yogi’, and wondered if this was a gender-thing, or because he was greater than other deities discussed in yoga.

This lady found out soon that Shiva – the ultimate yogi – represents subjective consciousness, and not really a god or a man (although he could be that, if she wanted to see him that way).

The woman in question began to see that whenever we discuss Shiva, it is rare we that we do not also mention Shakti, or the goddess. The goddess represents many things, but in the context of Shiva, the goddess represents energy (or power). In some contexts, Shiva symbolises purusha (which is the mind independent of nature), while Shakti symbolises nature (prakrti).

The woman in our story discovered that it was important to understand that these concepts were told as stories to people over time. The wisdom was given characteristics, humanised and deified so that the concepts would be understood more easily, and also easily recounted to others over time.

Benefits of yoga for men.

One day, a son looked up to his father and asked, “Daddy, why do you practice all that funny stuff on the mat?”

The father said to the son, “Well, my boy, it’s because it helps me through life. But there are four main things it helps me out with.”

Get strong, move better.

Yoga won’t build you a bodybuilder’s physique but what it’s great for is: