I spent the winter talking about grounding.
As we moved through the season of hibernation and frosted windows, my intention was to give my yoga students self-care tools for winter. I reminded students that grounding can happen on and off the mat, and there’s little limit to how the concept of roots, basic needs, family, and more can be applied in our lives. After all, in times that lack the inspiration of warmth and newness, nutritious meals, gratitude for a safe home, and closeness to family should theoretically be helpful.
The problem? In my personal life, it wasn’t working.
Along with the low vibrations of winter, I was approaching non-seasonal life challenges—and the combination of the two created a struggle. I felt like I was floating through space, fragile and directionless. My attempt to combat the feeling with grounding, as I had suggested to my students, was failing me.
Despite my bitterness, I continued visualizing roots growing from my tailbone in meditation, cultivating a healthy red ball of energy at my root chakra, expressing gratitude for my comfy king bed and making plenty of heartwarming calls to my parents. Finally, I threw my hands up and declared a self-care break from my self-care practices.
The next day I returned to my mat, and connected with what I knew well and nothing else.
Then from the quiet voice of my inner teacher, I heard these three questions.
What strengthens your ground floor, your foundation?
Not, what do people do to strengthen their foundation?
What do you do?
With a quick glance to my left, I saw my pile of books and journals that had been neglected the entire winter season. Reading rich books and journaling commentary have been foundational parts of who I am since my teens. Of course, this is my practice! So, I grabbed a book, dove in, and felt the astronomical difference in my seasonal sadness.
Aside from learning the specifics of a helpful grounding practice, I learned three additional lessons:
1. One size doesn’t fit all.
Grounding, like any other yogic practice, is personal. I’m sure some of the grounding practices that didn’t work for me make other people feel deeply rooted. In the same way, the practice that works for me won’t work for everyone else. Finding the right fit isn’t a cookie-cutter process.
2. Connection is key.
A grounding practice without personal meaning is like having WiFi without your MacBook being able to connect. Separately the energy is flowing, but at the end of the day, if the WiFi can’t give you internet access, it’s useless.
In class, teachers ask us to put our hands on our heart or visualize certain images, all to feel something. But if we don’t feel anything and we keep doing these gestures over and over again because an “expert” is telling us we should, then what are we doing, really?
With yoga, or whatever else, establishing meaning is important. Following blindly and going through the motions are habits yoga helps us break away from.
3. Struggle breeds more struggle.
Let’s be real. Newness comes with an element of struggle. If you’ve never practiced grounding before, where else are you supposed to start with than the suggestions of others you trust or “experts?” A little teeth-gritting and eye-squinting is a natural reaction to the start of anything.
However, when your jaw is hurting, your eyes are sealed shut, and your face looks like a raisin, you might consider pumping the brakes. Of course, what feels like WWE on the inside can look like Swan Lake on the outside. We’re all masters of disguise, bred to hide our pain. So, we must look at what’s happening on the inside. The sense of praying for the grounding practice to just be over is a red flag that you’re probably not getting much out of it. Like the WiFi that won’t connect, what’s the use? Take a break with something easier or familiar, and then refer back to lesson #2.
As we move into spring, a time of blooming and rebirth, we know the shape of our foundation will always be reflected in the newness we create. Our ideas, projects, relationships, careers, or chapters of life are all supported by the same ground floor.
We feed the flowers by feeding the roots.
We feed the roots by—well, that’s for you to explore.
Author: Allison Williamson
Image: Holly Sharpe/Instagram
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman