How a simple message from a yoga teacher had a profound effect on all aspects of my life.
A few years ago, as I was nearing the end of my yoga teacher training, I bought a top-of-the-line yoga mat.
The mat cost more than $100, which at the time I thought a little bit much. Two years and thousands of yoga classes later, however, it is still in its original mint condition.
I wanted to take some inspiration with me out into the big, bad world of teaching, so I asked my three yoga teacher trainers to sign the mat. I even came equipped with a huge Sharpie to ensure their words would last as long as the mat.
Each teacher took a different corner of the mat, and each relayed a different message. The note that I then took as a cute little quip has become a philosophy, or perhaps even a worldview, of mine. The funny thing is, I think my teacher meant it as a quip.
On my mat she wrote ‘Root to Rise…to greatness!’
The concept of rooting down to rise up was something intrinsic in my Anusara training. Everything starts with a strong base and grows from there. One cannot fly without first being grounded.
But as my yoga practice grows, I see how root to rise affects so many other areas of life: building new relationships, starting new projects, creating goals and seeing them through and making decisions both large and small.
In the physical practice of yoga, we can feel ourselves grounding before expanding out and about. Off the yoga mat, we can mentally and emotionally ground ourselves before moving forward and making decisions.
The act of rooting creates mindfulness. Instead of blindly opening the refrigerator door when the slightest pang of hunger hits, spend just a moment rooting yourself to determine the intention and necessity of the action you are about to take.
When you are about to make an impulse purchase and even while in the throes of mentally validating it, root yourself. Connect with that strong inner being, that core essence of who you are, to decide which action to take.
When serious issues arise, connecting with the idea of rooting to rise can help clear your perspective and point you in the right direction. Maybe you know you continually create chaos in your life but aren’t sure how you attract the drama. Perhaps you are contemplating going back to school, getting married, getting divorced, moving or any of these huge life decisions.
Connecting with that core, that center, that voice, that true full inner being of who you are, that root will clear your perspective. From this new stance you can rise up and face the situation you are in, growing from and through it and knowing deep within that you are making the best decision for yourself.
When juggling work, home and the general ‘busy-ness’ that our modern world hands us every day, embracing this idea of rooting to rise can be transformational. It has made a profound change in my life by helping me think clearer, work easier and continue learning more about who I am and what I have to contribute to this world. I have become a better multi-tasker, not to mention a better yoga teacher.
A tree does not just grow up and out; it also grows down and into. When a bird prepares to fly, it hunkers down and centers itself. Just about any movement in sport—a swimmer getting ready to dive, a pole vaulter nearing his vault, a basketball player coming in for a slam dunk—requires the athlete to root to rise.
Every living being must connect with the earth before launching forth; must ground down before defying gravity.
Today I took a beautiful yoga class, and our teacher concluded class by mentioning that yoga is not about us finding out what is out there in the world. Yoga is telling us what is already inside of us. As human beings we have a collective world knowledge; as individuals we have our own inner connection.
Finding this inner connection in the physical, spiritual, and emotional realms is what truly helps us take our yoga practice off the mat. This is how we root to rise…to greatness!
Julie Lemerond is a yoga teacher, vision-board maker, vegan (sometimes) eater, animal (always) lover, incense burning adventure seeker who is not quite content unless she’s doing something to change the world.
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Editors: Lara Chassin/Kate Bartolotta