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How to use yoga for grounding

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Living in “unprecedented times” is mentally stressful (does anyone else fantasize about living in some “previous times”? Just for a while?). The death of Queen Elizabeth II, the proclamation of a new king, a new prime minister, the cost-of-living crisis, the ongoing war in Ukraine… We are constantly dealing with turbulent and disturbing news, all from the back two and a half years of the COVID-19 pandemic. No wonder we feel overwhelmed, anxious or sad right now.

When everything is in flux, how do we stay grounded and mentally strong? Can yoga provide welcome solace for the weeks and months ahead? We asked the experts how to use asanas and breathwork to get us through the uncertain times.

How to use yoga to feel more calm and cohesive

Focus on stability, strength, and connection to the Earth (literally)

“In times of transition and uncertainty, we can feel completely separated, which is what is referred to in yoga as ‘rajask’ energy,” explains Laura Pearce, yogi and founder of Yoga Collective London. Balancing positions or lying positions where a larger part of your body is in contact with the ground. Working out barefoot and literally feeling the ground beneath you helps us feel present and connected to the ground.”

Pearce suggests that a sun salutation sequence including asanas such as descending dog (adho mukha svanasana) and warrior (virabhadrasana) can be particularly effective. “Any position where the focus is on stability and controlled effort can be super foundational. Knowing and repeating the sun salutations is one of the most basic practices in yoga—it’s worth learning your preferred sequence to practice for 10-20 minutes whenever you feel unsettled.”

Amy Strongman, yoga teacher and founder of Glow Yoga Studio, is also a fan of balancing asanas, especially this time of year. “As the seasons change, our whole being interacts with this limited space,” she says. Barber. “Autumn alone can leave us feeling unsettled and uprooted, and those feelings will be reinforced in these times of uncertainty.”

Strongman recommends the tree pose (vrikshasana) as a strong way to connect to the ground. “Rooting with the feet, finding lightness in the upper body, and reaching skyward from the crown of the head help us remember the deep cyclical essence and stability of nature of which we are all a part.”

Sometimes our sadness or anxiety can influence our attitude. “A downward facing dog helps improve alignment of the shoulders and hips to counteract slouching caused by feeling sad or depressed,” explains yoga instructor and mindfulness expert Lorna Bailey. She also recommends making time for the butterfly (baddha konasana) to loosen up the hips (as yogis believe there are strong feelings), and making time for the cat/cow blend to release any tension along the spine and in the abdomen. “They are all great poses for stimulating inner peace,” she adds.

Yoga poses to build flexibility

With Warrior I, II and III nurturing some much-needed physical and mental strength, what else can we do to build resilience for the months ahead?

Yoga instructor Helen Roscoe believes this can be found in heart-opening poses. She says, “The way of the word ‘courage’ is ‘cor’, which is the Latin word for heart.” Barber. “The practice of yoga that helps us connect with the connections of the heart with our inner courage.” Roscoe recommends gentle back flexion asanas that open up the heart area, such as the cobra (Bhujangasana). “In this position, take your time to notice your breathing, and invite an inhale that nourishes you, opens you up, and connects you to your guts. Relax the exhale toward the ground or inward to yourself.”

If you’re feeling weighed down by the weight of the world, Beth Fuller, a yoga teacher and wellness coach at Beth Fuller Wellness, is a fan of the simple baby pose (balasana). “Psychologically, it’s a situation where we are in complete surrender – we can’t see the world around us, so we have to trust that everyone will be OK,” she said. Barber. “This gentle reflexion activates the vagus nerve when you place your forehead on the floor and stimulates blood flow to the brain. By making the knees wide, you will also open up the hips and stretch the lower back.”

3 breathing exercises to calm and calm down

Breathing – or pranayama in yoga – is essential at such times. Conscious breathing techniques help bring our focus inward and focus whenever we feel a little wobbly.

Jane Buddington, a yoga teacher at PureGym, recommends the “box breathing” technique for anyone experiencing sadness, anxiety, stress, pain, and insomnia. “Deep, intentional breathing can calm and regulate the nervous system,” she says. “This simple technique can be practiced anywhere, anytime, but try it routinely at the beginning and end of each day to give your automatic nervous system moments of calm.”

How to do a “breathing box”

  1. Find a quiet place and sit comfortably with your palms facing up and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Inhale slowly through the nose for a slow count to four, filling your lungs before moving to your stomach.
  3. Pause – Hold your breath for another four.
  4. Exhale through your mouth for the fourth count again, completely emptying the lungs and abdomen.
  5. Pause – Hold your breath for another four. This is one round. Repeat until stabilized.

If you are new to box breathing, start counting from two and then three, before building to four.

Yoga teacher Hannah Barrett recommends “Golden Thread Breathing”: “It’s an exercise for anyone looking to ground, empower, and release emotional pain. Extending the exhale helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digestion” system that calms any stress response.”

How to do “Golden Thread Breath”

  1. Come into any comfortable position where the body is supported and relaxed with your eyes closed.
  2. Take two full breaths while releasing any tension in the jaw and face.
  3. Inhale through the nose, extending from the abdomen to the ribs to the chest. Imagine that the breath is coming to a part of the body that is experiencing stress or emotional pain.
  4. Exhale through very thin lips and imagine that you are blowing out a wonderful golden strand of energy. This thread gradually removes pain, brings softness and comfort.
  5. Repeat for 10 cycles or more if necessary.

“Bumblebee’s Breath” (bhramari) is an exercise for the yogi Cat Meffan of The Soul Sanctuary. She explains: “The vibrations created internally by the throat and then externally by the sound of travel bring a sense of calm and serenity. It’s best to do it with someone else by your side – a symphony of humming vibrations can connect individuals on a deeper level, helping us feel less alone. “.

How to do a “buzzing bee breath”

  1. From a comfortable seated position, inhale through your nose for a count of four or five.
  2. Exhale, hum through gently closed lips for as long as possible without straining.
  3. Repeat 11 times.