If you are a gardener, you know the personal benefits of grounding, that is, connecting your hands and feet to the Earth’s soil. Because we are bioelectrical beings, direct contact with our electrical planet provides us with an energy infusion that harmonizes our rhythms, boosts our healing potential, reduces inflammation and increases our sense of well-being and calm, according to the Heart MD Institute. Herein is why every yogi practices in bare feet. Furthermore, a grounded person is well-balanced and sensible, qualities that ensure stability, well also allowing for flexibility in mind, body and spirit.
As yoga practitioners, we master grounding by centring the head of the femur (thigh bone) in the back of the hip socket. This action is the most effective way to transfer our body weight from the pelvis through our legs and feet into the earth. In order to accomplish this feat, you may have already been instructed in yoga class to move the femur bones into the support of your hamstrings (back of the upper leg). It takes great mind-body awareness to first locate the femurs and then ground them into the back of the leg.
Although self-awareness and the ability to unite mind and body are significant benefits in their own right, consider these other healing qualities that emanate from a grounded being:
— the balance between stability and flexibility
— a minimized strain on the hip joints
— freedom of the breath
— a release from damaging holding patterns in the outer hips
— the prevention of hyperextension in the knees
— a return of the spine’s natural curves
In the seated poses explained below, the spine, skull and neck are supported through the action of grounding the femur bones. In addition, the solid foundation created enables us to turn our awareness inward for breath and meditation practice.
Tightness in the leg, hip and buttock muscles can make grounding the femurs challenging. However, weights (i.e., a sandbag) can assist in achieving the action described below by allowing the muscles to release and the bones to drop.
Action: Come into each of the following poses with enough support under your sit bones so your back is lifting comfortably. Ensure your thighs are resting on the floor or blankets. Place the weight close to the hip crease, away from the knees. Find your breath. Allow your muscles to relax and your femurs to drop. Stay for three-to-five minutes. More advanced practitioners will sense the head of the femur settling back into the centre of the hip socket.
Dandasana (seated stick pose)
Follow the instructions as described above. Placing your feet on the wall will provide feedback when the femurs ground — your legs will lengthen into your feet.
Follow the instructions as described in the action. Keep your knees together and your feet at the sides of your hips. When the femurs ground, you will experience a lifting of your spine.
Follow the instructions as described in the action. Keep your knees and feet pointing toward the ceiling. You may do this pose sitting upright or folding forward as shown.
Article originally appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeggers Helen Maupin (www.righttojoy.com) and Candace Propp (www.natureofcontentment.com) are authors of the Creating Space: Yoga Actions book series. For more information, refer to Creating Space: Yoga Actions for Legs & Knees. Candace and Helen are certified teachers through Yoga Centre Winnipeg. For yoga teacher training with Stacy Schroder, see www.sereneyogastudio.com.