By Lara Healy
Uh-Oh, I’m “Un-Grounded”…But What Does That Even Mean?
I had heard many yogis, including our yoga teacher, Yogi Aaron, talk about the importance of staying “grounded.” But I always wondered, “What does that mean, exactly? What is being ‘grounded?’ Why was it important? And, how do I get it?”
Five Guaranteed Ways of Becoming More Grounded
Looking back now, I can see that before participating in the Blue Osa yoga teacher training I was suffering from being extremely “un-grounded.”
Over the year of bouncing around between places, I began to realize that while traveling was exhilarating, it was also extremely disorienting. After many months on the road I was finding it hard to stay focused, I wasn’t sleeping well, and I didn’t have much mental clarity. I would be hit by unexpected mood-swings and my attention span was fleeting.
I felt myself becoming more reactive and would feel stressed by trivial things. Often, I would feel very impatient for no reason or find my mind wandering off in the middle of a conversation. The world continued to whirl around outside of me, but I was missing a feeling of stability within myself. However, at the time, I didn’t know what that meant, or how to change the situation.
Over the following 30-day immersion I would learn what it meant to be grounded, why it was important to stay grounded, and how to be more grounded in my everyday life.
But First, What does it mean to be “grounded?”
In a literal sense, being grounded means to be “situated upon, or being adjacent to, the earth.” At Blue Osa yoga teacher training I learned that being grounded means something much more than this. It isn’t a place or location; it is a way of being.
When we refer to being grounded in a yogic sense, we are referring to a mental or emotional state. Being grounded means that we have a strong foundation within ourselves that allows us to feel firmly established and rooted internally, regardless of what is happening in the external world.
1.Connect With Nature
Essentially, connect with the Earth. Being close to the Earth is as grounded as you can physically become. When everything around you is shaky, take a seat. Root the soles of your feet into the Earth. There are many simple ways to feel connected with the environment. When we are surrounded by nature we are soothed at a deep and primal level. Even if you are not the “outdoorsy-type” you can do a lot of things to reconnect with nature
- Watch the sunset
- Take a bubble bath
- Go for a walk
- Go on a bike ride
- Go camping
2. Find Your Yoga Practice
During yoga teacher training at Blue Osa, Yogi Aaron showed us that there are specific yoga postures that are designed to calm our bodies. Forward folds, in particular, help to re-set our nervous system. When this happens, our brain stops releasing the stress hormone, cortisol, and begins the process of relaxation. Try these simple postures to help your mind and body become more calm and grounded.
– Paschimottanasana: Sit on the floor with your legs together and stretched out in front of you. Sit up straight with an erect spine and lift your arms overhead. Slowly hinge forward from your hips, reaching your arms towards your feet. Hold this posture for 1-3 minutes. To deepen and enhance the results of the grounding effects of paschimottanasana, hold this posture for 5-10 minutes.
– Uttanasana: Stand with your feet together and spine straight. Lift your arms overhead. As you exhale, hinge forward from your hips, allowing your head and arms to fall towards the floor. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
– Viparita Karani: Sit with your right hip touching the wall. Slowly raise your legs up against the wall as you lay onto your back. Scootch your buttocks towards the wall to remove any space between your bottom and the wall. Straighten your legs as much as possible. Rest here for 5-20 minutes.
3. Always Come Back To Your Breath
At Blue Osa yoga teacher training we learned the value of pranayama breathing exercises and meditation practices. According to Yogi Aaron, everything comes down to breathing. He told us:” “We can transform our lives when we begin to observe and control our breath.”
Our breath informs our brains of what is happening to us. If we are not breathing, our mind automatically becomes anxious; it thinks we are in a state of distress. By calming our breath we tell our minds that everything is fine. Even if the external situation is stressful, with the appropriate breath control, we have the power soothe our nervous system and bring balance back to our bodies.
– 1:1 Breathing – Without manipulating your breath, observe and count how long it takes for you to breathe in and breathe out. Once you know the duration of your inhale and exhale, elongate the shorter of the two breaths so that your inhale and exhale are evenly timed.
For example, if you inhale for 5 counts and you exhale for 3 counts, then lengthen your exhale so that you are breathing in for 5 counts and out for 5 counts. Use the full capacity of your lungs and make you are breathing smoothly so that there are no pauses.
4. Be Still
There are many ways to get more grounded in our lives, and it is different for every person. The unifying factor that is crucial to become more grounded is taking a moment to pause, breathe, get still, and become steady. During Blue Osa yoga teacher training we got to experiment with various practices and find what worked for each of us.
Meditation can be one of them – There are many different ways to meditate, so play around with it and find a way that works for you. To help you get started you can attend a local seminar or weekend workshop. You may go on a meditation or yoga retreat. You can try some online Youtube videos. Or, you can sit quietly for 5-10 minutes each morning and observe your breath. The main goal is to sit, be still, breathe, and notice what happens.
It can be helpful to have a guide or a teacher in the beginning. Find what appeals to you and experiment with your practice.
5. Join a Yoga Immersion Program
I knew that participating in a one-month yoga teacher-training program in Costa Rica would be challenging, fun, and educational. However, what I didn’t know was that the next month would completely change my life.
I had spent the last year of my life traveling through Central America, 8 months of which I had spent as the volunteer gardener at Blue Osa. The remainder of the year, I had traveled through Belize, backpacked around Guatemala, and explored various parts of Panama. The months had been filled with hard work, magical memories, and fun new friendships.
Stepping into the training I was prepared to learn yoga postures, however, what surprised me the most during the month of yoga teacher training was the education that I got on the being grounded and how to incorporate it into my life. Blue Osa yoga teacher training taught me how easy it could be to regain a feeling of stability and “groundedness” in my life, wherever I found myself in the world.
How Has Being Grounded Impacted My Life?
After spending 30 days at Blue Osa during yoga teacher training my life has changed dramatically. After learning what being grounded was, and the importance of maintaining it in my life, I now feel more stable, confident, and calm.
Regardless of where I am, or what I am experiencing, when I start to feel stressed, frustrated, or upset, I remind myself to check in with my breathing. I can practice 1:1 Breathing anywhere at anytime. If I am feeling generally agitated or cranky, I take a walk down the beach, or go for a run. If I am not sleeping well or feeling a bit “flighty” I put my legs up the wall.
These techniques do not take lifetimes to perfect. Conversely, they are simple and easy tools that everyone can use at anytime in their lives to regain balance and maintain a feeling of being more grounded. They have completely changed my life, and I now know that I have the power and control to get grounded wherever I find myself in the world.
Why Is Staying Grounded Important?
During the month-long immersion at Blue Osa, our yoga teacher, Yogi Aaron, showed us how being grounded lets us remain objective, non-reactive, more mindful, and more observant to whatever situation presents itself. Being grounded allows us to have an internal space of emotional and mental stability, which offers us heightened clarity and insight.
Yogi Aaron taught us that when we are grounded in life we are more present. We become calmer, more patient, and less stressed. Our minds become clearer, quieter and more meditative. In this state, we are better listeners. We tend to stop being distracted by making mental lists or focusing on the future. We feel a sense of calmness from being rooted and being firmly anchored in the present moment.
Click the button below to read more about Blue Osa’s Life-Changing Yoga Immersion programs.
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About the author
Lara was a volunteer at Blue Osa working in the gardens. She is originally from Minnesota and spent the last three years in Colorado. In 2013 she decided to spend a year abroad focusing on travel, yoga & gardening.