Need a boost in your yoga practice? In her R&R retreat workshop Grounded Presence, senior Kripalu Yoga teacher Evelyn Gonzalez explores enlivening ways to bring more grounding, energy, and spaciousness each time you step onto the yoga mat. Through the natural forces of opposition, Evelyn explains, you can find your center in each pose.
Plant metaphors are a powerful way to let this concept blossom in your body. One of the keys to tapping into a sense of grounded presence in your practice is to become aware of what roots down and what branches out when you settle into a yoga posture—all the while connecting to the breath. Evelyn recommends lengthening the bones to find more space across the body, while simultaneously allowing the muscles to contract, “hugging” them into the bones for stability.
These simple yet powerful tips can help create less effort and more stability in your practice. Here are two yoga poses Evelyn demonstrates where these principles can come in handy.
Start with your foundation: Ground the hands, activating the Ls of the palms (the space connecting the index finger and thumb). As the palms press down, the forearms hug in, while the upper arms roll out, and the shoulders wrap around the upper ribs. To prevent the arms from sagging too much, lengthen the armpits forward. To branch out through the spine and pelvis, keep the knees soft to extend the back body, and move through the heart to create opening in the front of the body.
Balancing poses, such as Tree, can be a challenge: How can you cultivate a sense of being grounded and present while standing on one leg? Attention is key in your Tree. Focus on the three main areas of grounding: Ground through the eyes, keeping the gaze soft and steady. Ground through the breath, keeping the inhales and exhales long, smooth, and relaxed. And ground through the standing leg, creating a solid, stable, rooted base for the posture.
Experiment with these principles next time you practice these poses. Were you able to apply them to other postures as well? Did you feel more of a grounded presence? How did that help you when you stepped off the mat?