It’s important to consult your physician or physical therapist before beginning any new physical activity or exercises and always listen to your body and respect any warnings you hear.
My husband and I were recently re-watching The Revenant (2015), the story of one man’s struggle for survival after he was abandoned and left for dead. In the film, there’s a reminder that if you were to only focus on the branches of a tree during a storm, you might think the tree will fall, but if instead your awareness is on the trunk, you’ll see that the tree is strong and steady.
Like the tree, when our roots are strong, when we are connected, we are a mighty creation.
To be grounded is to be aware and present, to be able to keep things in perspective with equanimity. We need this now more than ever, this ability to keep our internal compass aligned to our soul’s true north. Enter grounding, or earthing. When the human body is in bare contact with the earth, like when walking barefoot through sand or lying flat in the grass to watch the clouds, we are transformed. If you haven’t tried this in a while, here’s your invitation.
Studies point to several health benefits including improved muscle recovery and decreased tissue damage and inflammation from grounding, in addition to reducing sleep dysfunction, pain, and stress from cortisol regulation. Recent studies illustrate cardiovascular benefits of grounding as well. Grounding increases the charge of red blood cells, which decreases blood viscosity and clumping. How profound is it that we can decrease cardiovascular disease and events like heart attacks and strokes simply by connecting with Creation? It’s no wonder then that research also suggests that grounding increases pleasant and positive moods.
Why are we all not taking large dosages of this earth medicine? Many are, I’m sure. All the filled local, state and national parks reveal how this pandemic has reshaped the contours of both our personal and collective experiences—reminding us that almost all the best things happen outside and that in reconnecting with nature we are re-envisioning that deepest part of ourselves. What a gift and opportunity it has been to get out of our office buildings, off airplanes, and back out into our environment on our feet again!
Try these 3 yoga poses to ground down, to cultivate a positive relationship with this island Earth. To experience the maximum benefit, perform these poses on bare earth.
Savasana or Corpse Pose: Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Moments to learn, a lifetime to master.
Bridge Pose: Start by lying on your back with knees bent and feet on the earth. Track your knees in the same direction as your toes point and keep the knees steady and strong. Lift your pelvis and sacrum up to the sky as you draw knees away from hips with the strength of hamstrings and quadriceps together. Feel yourself bridge up from your roots to your heart.
Single Leg Bridge Pose: To increase demand on the hip stabilizers and core muscles, extend one knee at a time and keep the pelvis level and steady by drawing core muscles in to stabilize.
Warrior II: Stand with a wide stance and point the front foot toward the front of the mat/space and bend into that knee while you keep your back leg and knee extended and grounded toward the back of the mat/space. Keep the hips open as the arms raise to shoulder height with fingertips reaching in opposite directions. The trunk is open and upright, spine neutral, over the hips and pelvis. Stand strong and confident in the present moment, aware of the past that’s guided you and the future you manifest.
One of the great wisdoms included in the Book of Ecclesiastes is that the sun still rises and that Earth endures forever. We cannot destroy this Earth, only our capacity to live on it. There’s no geographical cure. Our destiny is inexorably bound to our planet’s. Now, more than ever, we are called to stewardship—healing this Earth requires healing ourselves first. So, take off your shoes and step outside. Our work begins.
By Dr. Meghan Nelson, a licensed physical therapist and professional yoga therapist with a passion for using yoga as medicine for optimal health, injury prevention, and overall health and wellness. Meghan is co-owner of Lumin Therapy, which provides integrative healing of the mind, body, and spirit through the practice of physical therapy, medical therapeutic yoga, and mindfulness.