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.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

Tadasana or Mountain Pose isn’t just standing. It is the foundational pose for all standing yoga poses (and more!). Sometimes called Samasthiti, there are many subtle nuances to the pose that may not be immediately noticeable.

“Sama” means ‘equal’, ‘same’ or ‘upright’, while sthiti, meaning “to establish” or “to stand.” “Equal standing” brings to a sense of equanimity, both a physical and emotional / mental practice we have in yoga.

  • Begin by standing upright with both feet facing forward, parallel to each other. Check that your hips, knees and ankles are stacked one above the other.
  • Then check that your pelvis is in neutral, or perhaps tilting a little back to draw some strength to the core – especially if you are lordotic (i.e. you have an over-accentuated low back arch).
  • Then roll your shoulder blades back and down to broaden the collar-bone and chest space. The top of the arm bones should be relaxed and down, away from the ears.
  • The palms should be facing forward, at least a little bit, because this opens up the chest space and collar bone. Plus, it also is the anatomically “correct” position of the human body, as seen in many models of human skeletons we may see in biology class.
  • Stay for about five breaths (which is roughly one minute), before moving on to the next pose.

In yoga philosophy, there is consciousness in everything, including in nature. The awesome and inspiring Himalayas are represented by the god Himavat in yoga mythology, who is the father of Parvati, the consort of Shiva.

Mountains are crucial to life because they are the source of rivers. Rivers flow towards the sea and offer nurture and irrigation to the land.

Rivers also has great symbolism in spiritual life, said to represent samsara – the cycle of birth and death.

Mountains are inseparable from rivers, which is why Himavat is also considered the father of Ganga, the goddess of the Ganges.

So have this in mind as we stand in Tadasana, embodying the stability, solidity and unmoving nature of a mountain – rooted and present, while nurturing all around us.

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute Pose).

Like Tadasana, this yoga pose isn’t just standing with arms up! As deceptively simple as Tadasana, there are a lot of subtle adjustments in Urdhva Hastasana that makes the pose much “more”. Like the rest of the poses highlighted in this post, it is a foundational standing pose.

  • Begin in Tadasana. Then lift your arms upwards.
  • As you begin the movement, keep grounded in both feet and notice if your feet rotate outwards. If they do, keep your thighs rotating inwards toward your midline.
  • Try to keep your palms facing towards your body and notice any resistance as your arms reach shoulder level. If you find there is resistance (or even pain), open up your arms wider – perhaps even to a ‘V’ position.
  • Notice the opposing energy of grounding in your feet and the upward lift of your arms.
  • Rather than throw your head back, begin by keeping your eye gaze forward, especially if you’re first starting out with yoga practice.
  • Stay for about five breaths (which is roughly one minute), before moving on to the next pose.

This pose is very similar to the ‘V’ for victory position that boosts our self confidence and sense of inner power, described in Amy Cuddy‘s book, “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges”. So try it, it grounds you and helps you bring out that sense of Lakshmi.

“Remain grounded and entrenched for your end will be the feather that gets tossed and turned at the mercy of the wind.”

― RJ Intindola – (Gandolfo) – 1992

Utkatasana (Chair Pose).

This yoga pose is a fiery pose and great for strengthening our legs – the grounding points of our body. For those of us with weaker lower body, it’s a great yoga pose to practise as well, building up our glutes, thighs and developing eccentric strength in our calves.

  • Begin in Tadasana. Then lower your butt down and back while maintaining strength in your core.
  • Notice if you are driving your knees forward, you can tell if you cannot see your toes any longer. If so, draw your knees back until you can see your toes (this causes your butt to move backward).
  • Also check that your knees remain in line with your hips and ankles, rather than dip inward (away from midline) or outward (away from midline).
  • As you lower yourself down, lift your arms up as you did in Urdhva Hastasana above.
  • Once in position, keep your breath long and look forward or downward. A good tip is keeping your head / neck / spine in normal alignment with the tummy activated.
  • Also, check if your toes grip down to the ground. Avoid this, as it causes the force to drive up to your knees. Relax your toes, and check that you are equally weighted on both feet.
  • Stay for about five breaths (which is roughly one minute), before moving on to the next pose.

In olden times, it was rare for common folk to sit on chairs. Most people sat on the ground, while the elevated sitting place were meant for people who were revered – royalty etc. When this is understood, perhaps we will see this yoga pose in a different perspective.

The Sanskrit name – “utkata”, meaning ‘fierce, high, superior, immense, large, difficult’ – means you place in an elevated position like royalty in olden times – seeing and being seen.

Vrksasana (Tree Pose).

Vrksasana or Tree Pose is a basic standing pose (albeit, a balance pose), and is definitely a very grounding pose to practise. This yoga pose is perfect for the us to immerse in the philosophy of being from form to formlessness – like a tree reaching from the earth (form) up towards the heavens (formlessness).

  • Begin in Tadasana. Rotate your right foot externally (about 45° – very few people can rotate 90° externally without shifting their midline).
  • Then place your right foot either on your left ankle, calf or thigh. Avoid placing the foot on the knee, because if you were to lose your balance, you may press and place pressure on the knee ligaments and cause injury.
  • Once settled, draw energy upward from the arch of the foot to the pelvic middle, from pelvic middle to navel and middle of chest, then from there upward through to the top of the skull. The upward energy would mean that your core is activated, with you right tail bone lengthening towards the back of the knee.
  • Place your hands to heart. If you’re feeling grounded, expand your arms upward as in Urdhva Hastasana above.
  • Stay for about five breaths (which is about one minute).

Vrksasana is a great pose to work on your grounding for transformation, because not only are you pressing downward, you are lifting upward. As the ancient yogis once said, “May you have the same forbearance as the tree you practice under.”

Read more about Vrksasana!

I dig a little deeper into the philosophy, history and my own experiences with trees in my latest outing in Elephant Journal this month.

Grounding basics.

These are great yoga poses to begin your grounding practise. Learn more grounding in my Facebook group below!

The Mindful Mornings

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If your days are fraught with stress and anxiety, this mini-course is for you!

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  • Yoga Wall Stretches for the low back – four videos
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