In celebration of our abundant planet, this weeks yoga classes are an exploration of how we are able to connect to the Earth element through our practice. It's my thinking that the more we preserve our relationship with our planet, the more likely we are to protect it for ourselves and future generations.
There are five elements of Ayurvedic teaching, earth, fire, air, water and space which are present in everything and everyone. Improving our understanding of these elements and their effects on our body will help us to maintain our balance in an ever changing world.
The Earth element (prithvi) is associated with our first chakra, Muladhara or root chakra which is located at the base of our spine. This element and chakra is connected with security and stability. When our earth element is balanced we feel grounded, resilient and safe. An imbalanced earth element can contribute towards feelings of anxiety and fragility.
We are able to increase our connection with the earth element through the practice of grounding yoga postures. I've included some of these below to help you find a sense of stability and security...
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Tadasana is the foundation for all standing poses in yoga. It provides an awareness of how to ground ourselves into the earth below. When we practice Mountain Pose regularly it may help to improve our posture and stability.
Start standing with your feet together. Distribute your weight evenly through your feet and spread your toes. Engage your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps and lift through your inner thighs. Draw your navel in toward your lower spine and as you lift your chest relax your shoulders away from your ears. Your arms will be by your sides and your hands will be active, palms facing inward towards your body. Reach toward the sky with the crown of your head and focus your gaze directly ahead. You may wish to close your eyes to tune into how your body is feeling in this moment. Practice holding for 5-10 breaths, inhale the nourishing air and exhale any stale vibes.
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)
Virabhadrasana I is a strong yoga pose that provides confidence and stability. Begin in Mountain Pose at the front of your mat. As you exhale, step your left foot back and turn it in to about a 45 degree angle. Your left foot should be firmly planted and grounded into the earth below. Bend your right knee in line with your right ankle. If you can bring your right thigh parallel to the ground. As you inhale reach your arms towards the sky. Practice for 5-10 breaths, embracing the ferocity of this pose before repeating on your left side.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Vrksanana is a balancing yoga pose which helps to improve our stability. In Tree Pose you plant one foot sturdily on the ground as if putting down roots. Steadily lift your right foot off the floor and open your knee out to the right side, placing the sole of your foot to the inside of your left leg. This may be placed at your ankle, shin or to the top of your left leg - be mindful not to rest your foot directly on the knee. Choose a point of focus for your eyes and steadily hold your drishti to support your balance. Reach your arms toward the sky like branches and breathe for 5-10 breaths. Look beyond the treetops of everything you know about yourself and dream BIG. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Garudasana is more challenging than Vrksasana as it requires a little more strength, flexibility and stamina. With practice you will find it hugely helps to improve your balance.
Stand with your feet together and palms together at your heart centre. Focus your gaze to support your balance. Gently bend your knees, lift your left foot up and whilst rooting down through your right foot, cross your left thigh over your right. If comfortable for you, wrap your left foot around your lower right leg. Extend your arms in front of you so they are parallel to the earth. Cross your right arm over your left then bend your elbows, stacking one on top of the other. Bring your palms together and raise your arms so that they are parallel with the ground. Practice holding for 5-10 breaths before repeating on the opposite side.
Balasana (Child's Pose)
Balasana encourages you to release any tension or stress and is a superb way to feel the unconditional support from the earth below. Start by kneeling on your mat. Bring your big toes together and take your knees wider than your hips. Rest your weight on your heels. As you exhale, extend your arms out in front of you and allow your torso to rest on the ground between your legs. Gently rest your palms on the earth. Hold for as long as feels right for you and your practice.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
What better way to experience your connection with the earth than to ground your entire body. Begin by lying on your back. Relax your lower body by stretching your legs out and spreading them comfortably apart. Relax your upper body by stretching your arms open at the sides of your body. Soften your palms face up toward the sky. Relax your neck, jaw, eyes and breath, inviting your breath to find a natural rhythm. Allow your body to become effortlessly supported by the earth below. Enjoy the connection between your body and the earth's natural energy, savouring the stability it provides you. Let yourself go here for 5 - 15 minutes.
Nurture your connection with your Earth element the way Mother Nature has been nurturing you since the day you were born.
Inhale sky above and exhale earth below!