back to Body

Ever felt scattered, overwhelmed, or unorganized? (I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that.) We’ve all been there, and it can make us feel as though we’re careening around with no solid ground to stand on. Most people become separated from their physical and emotional selves when they are in stressful environments, have too much work to do, or have too many obligations to others. In our culture, it is easy to disconnect from the body, but the practice of grounding encourages you to be present, bring your mind into harmony with your body, and experience your life from a stable and comfortable place. Feeling grounded allows you to feel connected to yourself and to your surroundings.

When we practice grounding, we create a physical connection to the earth or to the surface below us (you know, the ground). It’s a very comforting feeling, for sure. There is a lot to be said for feeling the solidness below your feet. However, grounding goes far beyond the physical. You can be grounded wherever you are, right in your own body, whether you are in the ocean, on an airplane, or in space (not sure how many astronauts are reading this, but you get the point).

I have found through my own personal practice that there are two keys to this:

1. Breath
2. MuladharaMulabandha

Let’s go over the weird second one first. In Sanskrit, mula = root, and dhara = support/foundation. Chakras are energy centers in the body; Muladhara is your root chakra, located at the very base of your spine. This is an important chakra for grounding because when this energy center is moving freely, we feel more connected to ourselves – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I sometimes like to think of it in construction terms: it is the groundwork that needs to be laid in order for me to work on the rest of the building (all the way up to the top floor). Chakras.net has a really nice description, too:

“Everyone admires the leaves and flowers of a plant, but hardly anyone takes any notice of the roots that lie hidden in the darkness of the earth. But the roots form the basis of the vegetation. From the sustenance received from the roots, the sprout gains the power to penetrate the dark soil, grow upwards towards the sun and produce flowers, fruit and seeds.”

One of the many ways this energy center can be tapped into is through Mulabandha, the root lock (bandha = lock). The root lock can be engaged by squeezing the inner thighs toward each other and lifting the muscles of the pelvic floor up and in toward the body, kind of like advanced Kegel exercises (yes, this movement can come in handy for other reasons too). Strengthening this area of the body by more regularly engaging it will help you feel stronger and more connected to yourself. It’s a practice of finding stability and comfort within your body.

Now let’s add the all-powerful, life sustaining breath to the mix. Here’s what you need to do: just take some deep breaths through your nose. That’s it! Because the root chakra is often represented by the color red, I like to imagine this color as a bright red light at the base of my spine. With every inhale, I breathe deep into my body and let the color grow brighter and stronger, and with every exhale, I imagine the light circulating the base of body. It’s warm, comforting, and grounding.

This exercise of engaging the root of your body and finding your breath could be a 20-minute morning meditation. It could also be a 5-second time-out while you gather yourself at a meeting, party, or family gathering. Next time you’re feeling stressed, notice whether you are staying grounded and true to yourself and your body. If not, take a few moments to find your breath and your root connection. With practice, you can feel grounded even in the most unstable circumstances. 

Jessica began practicing yoga around 11 years ago, but it wasn't until after running cross country and track at the college level that she realized she needed something more nourishing for her body--something she could rely on for not only her physical health, but for her mental health as well. Jessica views yoga as a chance to practice relaxation, mindfulness, and compassion, which then spills over into her daily life. She can be found at Patanjali's Place practicing to her heart's delight, hanging out in downtown Durham with friends, or spending time with her husband at home. After graduating from Beloit College in 2009 and working in Women's Health for 5 years, Jessica is now a full time yoga instructor and writer. Jessica’s classes combine challenging poses, creative sequencing, and most importantly a sense of levity—she is always reminding herself and her students to never take yoga too seriously. She encourages adventurousness, hard work, and fun in all of her classes! You can stay in touch with Jessica by following her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lavitayoga), Twitter and Instagram (@lavitayoga). read more about