The Power of Grounding

by Sesa O'Connor

The Power of Grounding

With the concept of “Grounding” that has really exploded over the last couple years, often times people think of being grounded as a physical state of being - being outside with your bare feet on the earth, hiking barefoot through forests or on the beach, or to finally attain a certain amount of material stability where they are able to settle down, buy a house, have a steady job, etc. etc. etc. Don't get me wrong I LOVE spending time in nature, especially barefoot with my toes in the dirt, listening to the wind whispering through the leaves accompanied by the singing of birds and bees, or swimming in the ocean with the sun kissing my skin. And yes, there is a layer of stress that can be subdued from a certain level of life stability. BUT…for me being grounded is an inner state of being, regardless of my geological location or material status in life.

Grounding or centering, to me, means connecting deeply with a sense of purpose through a relationship with God. Yes, I said it – God. You might wonder why in a yoga blog, but bear with me. Many traditions teach living in harmony with nature's laws. In Taoism, for example, we seek Dao, inner harmony to live in tune with nature. But who created these laws? We admire nature's beauty endlessly – the diverse life forms, mesmerizing landscapes, and the vast cosmos. But when do we acknowledge the Creator? Great minds like Einstein and Tesla realized the existence of a divine force. So, I ask you to open your mind to this possibility, even briefly.

Yoga, meaning union with God, aims to reconnect us with our spiritual essence and our Sanatan Dharma, our eternal function of serving God in love. It's more than physical poses or meditation; it's introspection and shedding illusions of who we think we are. Yoga challenges us, fostering growth through discomfort. Nature reflects spiritual growth. Like a seed buried before sprouting into a tree, our awakening often involves inner unraveling and transformation. Nature teaches profound lessons – like tall trees surviving storms with deep taproots. A God-centered life sustains me through challenges, fostering patience, strength, and faith. Surrendering to God's will brings lasting grounding and fulfillment, unlike fleeting material fixes. We must address our spiritual root for lasting balance and connection. Through surrender and divine connection, we can all find true grounding and centering.

Mini Grounding Sequence

The mini sequence that follows is comprised of forward folds and versions of poses that are supported by the earth, to take the pressure out of having to be hyper aware of staying balanced or upright and strong on your own, instead allowing you to feel grounded and go inward, and in that feeling of support hopefully you can reflect on the words spoken above. We will complete the practice of asana with an intentional moment of meditating on God using japa mala meditation. You will need your favorite Manduka yoga mat, two yoga blocks, a yoga wheel (optional), mala beads, and maybe a cushion so you can comfortably sit in the meditation.

Bālāsana - Child's Pose

stay as long as needed to center yourself

Sitting on the tops of the feet and shins, bring the big toes to touch and open your knees as wide as comfortable (at least outer hip width apart) Sit the hips to the heels and crawl the hands forward resting your forehead on the earth (if it doesn't touch use a block).

Arms can extend out softening to the earth, maybe bring the hands to prayer, or prayer on the back of the neck. Try to come to long slow rhythmic breaths - every inhale 5-15 seconds long, however long your inhale is make sure your exhale is the same amount of time. Try to maintain this breath for the duration of this sequence. “Please accept this as an offering, a way for me to take care of my the body and mind so that I can continue to show up and be of service off the mat." Come up to table top. Close your knees under your hips and stack the wrists under your shoulders.

Urdhva Mukha Pasasana - Extended Thread the Needle

5-10 breaths

Step your right foot out to the right straight out from the hip and ground down through the pinky-toe edge of your foot like you would for Warrior II. Inhale right arm out and up to the sky stacking the shoulders. Exhale thread that arm behind your left wrist coming down to rest on your right shoulder and temple. If the weight is mainly in the shoulder and legs (NOT THE NECK) extend your left arm to the front of the mat pressing into the palm or cupping the earth with the fingertips so the elbow and forearm lift.

**If right shoulder doesn't touch down you can try doing the left arm instead (so the left arm goes the direction of the right leg) and the right arm extends to the front of the mat, or just take this without extending the leg. Unthread the arm plant both hands under the shoulders, swing the right leg to hover straight back behind you, tuck your left toes and lift the right leg and hips to the sky.

Tri pada Adho Mukha Svanasana - Three Legged Dog

Bend the knee pulling the heel to the butt and opening the right hip to the sky Lunge the foot next to right thumb Turn back heel down, so back toes turn forward more than halfway (almost to the front left hand corner of the mat).

Baddha Virabhadrasana - Humble Warrior

5-10 breaths

Climb to the fingertips think flat back, pull the belly in and float your hands down the side of your body Interlace fingers at the tailbone. Exhale fold inside your right leg pulling the interlaced hands up and overhead (if you're tight in the shoulders just press the thumbs into the sacrum and hug your elbows up to the sky). Hug the right hip in and keep both shoulders square to the ground. Release hands to the mat. Straighten front leg.

Parsvottanasana - Pyramid pose

5-10 breaths

You may have to instep your back foot a couple inches, you want both legs straight and both feet fully flat on the mat (back toes stay the same angle as in humble warrior). Inhale flat back, exhale fold down your leg. Hands can either frame your front foot or walk towards the back of the mat. Step back foot to the front of mat, inhale flat back, exhale forward fold. Inhale reverse swan dive to Tadasana - arms overhead. Exhale hands to your heart.

Surya Namaskar A - Sun Salutation A

with dancing cobra as backbend

Inhale Tadasana/Mountain pose - circle the arms to the sun. Exhale bow forward towards the earth, forward fold. Inhale flat back, exhale chaturanga - all the way to the mat. Take hands wide to frame the mat and cup earth with your finger tips. Inhale Bhujangasana/Cobra. Peel your chest up as high as comfortable. Exhale dip your right shoulder to the earth looking over your left shoulder. Inhale back to center. Cobra, exhale dip your left shoulder to the earth looking over your right shoulder. Inhale back to center, Cobra. Exhale chest down replant your hands next ribs and pushup and back to Adho Mukha Svanasana/Downward Facing Dog. Drop down to your knees coming to all fours.

Repeat sequence starting with Extended Thread the Needle on the left side Supported backbends - this is where you will need your yoga wheel and your yoga blocks (if you don't have these props, skip ahead to supported bridge).

Setu Bandha - Supported Bridge

2-3 minutes

Bend the knees so feet are flat on the floor. Lift your hips and slide the block underneath them (your block has three nights - small, medium, and tall - choose a level that doesn't create sharp pains or pinching in your low back, if you have pain in the low back try taking the block down 1 level). Top edge of your block should line up with the top edge of your sacrum (if you don't know where that is - find the top of those hipbones on the front of your body (not your sides!), and then trace that all the way out, around and underneath you, your fingers should end up at the top of your sacrum! If your butt feels like its hanging over the front edge of the block you need to scoot the block towards your feet maybe an inch). Arms can stay down your sides or up and over head grabbing opposite elbows.

Salamba Sarvangasana - Supported Shoulder Stand

5-10 breaths

Life the hips and move the block approximately an inch towards the low back. Lift one knee at a time or both at the same time if your body allows it, to the sky. Then straighten the legs. Point through your feet (point the feet, but then flex your toes). Spin your inner thighs away from the face. Take your time to bringing the feet down and remove the block, gently let hips come down to the mat.

Supta Baddha Konasana - Supported Butterfly with shoulder opener

1-2 minutes each arm

Lay flight on your back. Slide soles of the feet together and as close to groin as comfortable. If your knees don't touch the ground use your blocks to support them. Take right arm out to the side and flip the palm to face the earth. Bend the elbow and slide right hand in to the small of your low back (maybe work up between the shoulder blades) make sure the shoulders and chest remain level. Left hand will rest on your heart.

Switch after 1-2 minutes OR Take both hands out to the side palms face down. Actively drive your legs in to the block so you can lift your hips off the ground as you slide both hands into the small of your back. Interlace the fingers making one big flat palm then slowly and gently put your hips down. Stay 1-2 minutes. Actively lift hips to switch the interlace and to remove the hands. Whichever version you take please take hands to outer knees and use them to close legs together like a book (so you don't use the inner thighs).

Savasana - Corpse Pose

Sprawl the body out taking up as much space as you'd like and taking on whatever shape allows the edges of your body to melt, the wheels of the mind to no longer have to think about how you're body is feeling because it's doing, let go of your breath and all thoughts, attachments, responsibilities and obligations you normally hold. Set yourself free, and rest. When you're ready slowly come out of Savasana rolling to your right or left hand side, and then walk up to a comfortable seat. Get your malas and your meditation pillow if you need one. Find a comfortable seat - shukasana (criss cross apple sauce), virasana, anything you can sit in for the next few minutes. You could even bring your back against a wall.

Japa Meditation

Sit up tall, find the head bead (usually the biggest bead with a tassel). Starting on the one of the beads on either side and closest to the head bead, we are going to chant the mantra Isvara (Ish-var-a) on each bead, working our way all the way around until we reach the other side of the head bead. Close your eyes (if you can) and just feel the bead between your finger, say Isvara gently but loud enough that you can hear it, go to the next bead and say Isvara, and then the next bead, and the next…Isvara…Isvara…Isvara… Once finished bring your hands to your heart and then to the third eye with a slight bow to the head. Find a moment of gratitude, and maybe even a short and sweet prayer within yourself. When you're ready release your hands, blink your eyes open.


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About the Author:

Sesa is a 500 E-YRT Master Yoga instructor and Manduka Ambassador who has been featured on the cover of Yoga Journal. Born and raised in a family that lives and breathes true yoga, Sesa spent most of her childhood in a yoga ashram where she was raised and instilled with the practice of Bhakti Yoga as a way of life. But as a young adult her yoga practice fell to the back burner as life seemingly swallowed her whole. At 21 she became unexpectedly pregnant and the life she had planned came to screeching halt. Yet it was through her pregnancy that she found her way back home and back to her yogic roots. Unable to surf she turned to a regular practice of asana to prepare her for the journey of labor. Let go from her job - she was able to find stillness and time to reflect on how important yoga was to her and her spiritual progression. Shortly after giving birth to her beautiful son, she decided to leave her pursuit of traditional education behind and instead, humble herself and embark on something unexpected - in 2009 she signed up for a 200 hour teacher training program with Tamal Yoga School - an experience that helped her find her true calling and she hasn't looked back since!! Believing that we should never stop learning, Sesa has since become a 500 ERYT certified and has over 10,000 hours of teaching under her belt. She actively leads in the Yoga Community by teaching in studio classes, private sessions and workshops, she hosts retreats all around the world, co-leads 200hr Teacher Trainings, and has found a deep passion in leading mini yin trainings. Through teaching she has forged the perfect tool that allows her to show up and be of service to others; melding her personal experiences and yogic wisdom, as a means to share the amazing life changing and healing powers of yoga that have molded her into the - daughter, sister, mother, lover, and friend - that she is today, with everyone.



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