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5 Steps to Getting Grounded

By Elana Love

WED SEP 08, 2021

Wanting to feel more grounded is something I hear a lot from my students when they first join my yoga classes. It makes complete sense. We are so inundated with information these days and our brains are on a constant wheel of assessing and processing things, that most of us spend a lot of time in our heads - thinking, figuring, analyzing. Being thoughtful is certainly an important part of living consciously, but it's not a good sign when we overanalyze so much that our brain feels fried or it causes us more stress. We often don't know when or how to gain control of our monkey minds (known as chitta vritti in Sanskrit) and we can be left feeling overwhelmed, paralyzed, and helpless. It also leads to anxiety, which I know many of my students and readers can relate to.

The unfortunate truth is that anxiety is the most common mental health concern in the world, and is experienced by roughly 19% of adults in the US. With the state of the world the way it is, this isn't much of a surprise to me, but this doesn't make it normal, natural, or okay. Our nervous systems were not designed to know about everything happening in the world, all the time, let alone be able to realistically understand it all. It was designed to react to acute stressors in our immediate surroundings, followed by periods of remediation and rest. This chronic stress to our nervous system is leading to burnout, breakdown, and dis-ease. And of course…. more people seeking to “Get grounded.”

So what does it actually mean to get grounded, or ground ourselves? To me, it means moving from our wild running minds into a sense of steadiness, a more even, unshakeable place, like a mountain or tree. I also think feeling grounded comes with a sense of connection - with ourselves and what’s beyond and bigger than ourselves, like a support network or a root system strengthening the soil.

So, I invite you to live a little less in your head, and a little more in your feet, in your roots.

Here are five ways how:

1. Grounding Yoga Asanas (postures)

Because practicing yoga has been shown to help people feel more relaxed, it is a given that any yoga pose or practice (from a vinyasa flow to breathwork to meditation) could help you feel more grounded. But there are specific postures that I personally feel connect me more to my roots or foundations. These tend to be asanas that focus on the lower half of my body, engaging my legs and containment muscles (outer structures of the body that hold you in), and bring more awareness to my feet. I also like to play with shifting my weight around, and even bringing attention into my back body to feel the invisible support of the energy behind me. Grounding yoga can also involve supportive postures or using lots of props like what you'd find in a restorative yoga class. Some of my favorite yoga poses for grounding are: Tadasana (mountain), Vrksasana (tree), Garudasana (eagle), any and all Virabhadrasana (warriors), Trikonasana (triangle), Utkata Konasana (fierce goddess), Malasana (garland or "yogi squat"), any forward fold, Salamba Bhujangasana (sphinx), Balasana (child's). If you are a more visual learner, check them out here! What asanas feel most grounding to you? At the end of the day, what matters is what experience the postures create in your body, so I encourage you to notice how they each make you feel.

2. Work with your Root Chakra

The Muladhara, or root, chakra literally rules the quality of groundedness. Its other characteristics are security, safety, stability, and having our physical needs met. Makes sense, right? These all have to do with our foundations. We can't be thriving unless we are surviving, and we can't be surviving unless we feel relatively safe and solid in our basic needs. Feeling a sense of belonging and support is also a contributing factor. The root chakra is located at the base of the spine, or the perineum, and since it is the first chakra, it needs to be in balance before one can really attain balance through the higher chakras to ascend to the 7th chakra, which is characterized by Pure Bliss or Self-realization.

Muladhara is associated with the color red, the element of earth, the sense of smell, and the bij mantra Lam, all which can be worked with to balance the energy center in your body. Here are a few other ways to bring balance to the root chakra:

  • Eat grounding foods: root vegetables, lentils/beans, nuts/seeds, soy products, ginger, etc
  • Mantras: I am enough. I am worthy just for being human. I have everything I need. I am right where I need to be.
  • Asking yourself: Where am I supported in my life? (community of loved ones, values, spirituality, the literal physical surface you are on right now, etc)

3. Connect with Mother Nature

As mentioned above, the earth element also helps us balance the root chakra and get grounded. It only makes sense that connecting with nature would help us feel more relaxed and present - after all, is called "grounding" for a reason. Spending more time in nature and admiring its beauty gives us perspective. It reminds us of the bigger picture, and of the interconnectedness of it all. I think it triggers something primal within us because the way it speaks to our senses brings us back to our roots, to where we all started, living in close contact with and reliance on nature, as well as reminds us of where we'll all end up one day - ashes or remnants back in the earth. My favorite ways to ground myself using nature are: listening to the sound of the ocean waves, breathing in fresh forest air, smelling flowers, admiring small plants, and turning my face to the sun. I've even slept on the floor of my bedroom when I felt I needed to be closer to pachamama! These days, being more intimate with mother nature is such a "thing" that there are even trends and names for it, such as "forest bathing" or "earthing," which is the practice of walking barefoot on the ground to absorb the earth's electrons. If you're interested in trying this practice out for yourself, take my nature awareness meditation along with you for a walk. You can also check out this video for more related tips. However you choose to connect with nature, make sure you do it at least once a day!

Practicing yoga in a giant cave in Vietnam
Practicing yoga in a giant cave in Vietnam

4. Somatic Practices to Ease the Nervous System

Somatics is any practice that focuses on the mind-body connection to cultivate our ability to notice our internal self and sensations, supporting heightened self-awareness, growth, and healing on a physical and emotional level. There are many somatic resources that can be used to help us re-center and feel more grounded in times of stress, but here are just a few that have helped me personally:

  • Hearthug - There are a couple ways to do this: Place your right hand on the left side of your chest, partially into your armpit, and your left hand onto your right outer arm, and squeeze in. Or simply place your hands over your heart. Settle in, maybe resting your chin down toward your chest or your ear to your shoulder, reminding yourself you are here, intact. Now imagine that this is the most loving, supporting being in the universe holding you. The brain has this amazing ability to not know the difference. Let yourself feel held and cared for. Our nervous system responds to compassion practices because social engagement and feelings of connection activate our ventral-vagal response, which tells us we can let our defenses down.
  • Orienting + Naming - Orienting is done by getting familiar with the physical space around you through the five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste). It is a practice that helps us get perspective, more accurately discern our situation (am I really in danger?), and returns us to the present moment. By literally turning your head and neck around, exploring your space with your hands, and naming things that you see, hear, feel, or smell in your environment, you bring the front part of your brain online and tell your nervous system that you are safe in this moment because you are able to take a pause and assess your situation. You can also practice orienting as you cook, eat food, and drink beverages by paying extra attention to the smells, tastes, and textures. I also use this practice in applying compression to my body with my hands or simply looking at my hands, and saying to myself, "Me. Here. This. I am here. This is me."

5. Grounding Cord Meditation

A grounding cord meditation is a visualization practice that helps you feel more connected to the earth and to a larger network of support beyond yourself. To do it, set yourself up in a comfortable posture or lying down, and begin to visualize a root growing out of your tailbone, sit bones, or feet, and down through the surface underneath you, the floor below it, then the layers of the earth, all the way until it reaches and wraps around the core of the planet. You can imagine what this cord looks like and how it feels to be connected in this way.

To make your life a little easier, I made a taproot visualization meditation with some of these other tips all bundled up! Pop it on and press play anytime you need a break from it all, or something to bring you back home to yourself. Here you go!

Imitating this beautiful tree in Hawaii
Imitating this beautiful tree in Hawaii

Conclusion

So take these tips and try them for yourself. See what works for you and what doesn't. Keep this guide bookmarked for those moments of stress, anxiety, or overwhelm. And better yet, think about where and when you can begin to incorporate some of these practices into your daily life so that you can turn them into a habit and feel more grounded all the time vs. just when you realize you need it. How about when brushing your teeth, driving in your car, sitting down at your desk, or cooking a meal? How can you ritualize getting grounded? I can say from personal experience as someone who is constantly using these practices habitually throughout my day that I have gone from someone who used to feel very scattered (and whose brain often runs a million miles an hour) to someone who has slowed down tremendously and feels more calm, equanimous, and grounded most of the time.

If this article was beneficial to you, please share it with your loved ones or on facebook, tagging me at @elanaloveyoga. Join my email list to make sure you're updated whenever a new article is published, and check out the Living Yoga membership for a whole month's worth of content on Grounding!