The holiday season can be full of fun and folly. It can involve unusual schedules, staying up late, and indulging in lots of delicious food. Many of these situations could disrupt your internal stability and cause unnecessary stress. Instead, stay grounded this holiday season by using the simple postures and activities outlined in this blog post.
I often laugh when I hear the term “grounded” because I think of the upset parent who sends their teenager to their room and screams, “you’re grounded!!” Thankfully my mom never did such a thing. I was never confined to the four walls of my bedroom, nor was I restricted from spending time with friends or watching my favorite shows.
Quite the opposite was true for me. I was given permission to make my own decisions, even if they were poor ones. I suffered my own consequences of low energy, illness, and poor grades on homework assignments when my choices did not align with my goals or inner alignment.
While I explored my own independence from the safety of my home, often said YES to far too many things. It wasn’t until I hit my mid-twenties that I discovered that being grounded isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just involves being very particular about how I spend my time and energy.
And, instead of having someone punishing me into making the decision to be still for a while and reflect on my choices, I have the power to do this every day of my life as an adult. And you do, too! This article explores a few new ways you can do this during a busy holiday season. Plus, we show you a great exercise you can use with your yoga students to help them embody the same principle.
GROUNDED = CONNECTED
The term “being grounded” gets thrown around so much in casual conversation today–especially within the yoga world–that it’s easy to overlook the depth of its meaning.
Grounded is an adjective that can describe your mental or emotional state. It indicates you are stable, sensible, and realistic. It can also indicate that you are:
- Unruffled by outside influences
- Steady in your foundation and purpose
- In alignment (externally with your posture or internally with your energy)
- Centered, or making decisions from a neutral place.
- Energized from your connection to Source Energy
The term “grounded” also appears in electrical terminology. Take a look at the wiring in your home, for example. There’s a constant flow of electrons within metal circuit wires that move with a negative or positive charge. Electrons always seek ground–or discharge negative energy–so that the circuit can return to neutral. If there is a breakdown in the wiring pathway, hot electrical currents will run through other, unwanted materials (such as wood framing or something flammable). This could cause an unwanted shock to you, or lead to a fire in your home.
To prevent this, a grounding pathway of copper wires is connected to every device and every metal electrical box in your home. These wires end at a grounding bar in your service panel, and ultimately in an 8 ft copper rod driven deep inside the Earth outside of your home.
The Earth, which is a huge conductor of energy, can then dissipate the high, unwanted electrical voltage. This can possibly save your appliances, your home, and perhaps even your life.
This is relevant because you are an electromagnetic being. You are a conduit of energy all day long, and when you encounter stressful, overwhelming, or even unwanted energy overloads, you need somewhere to discharge that energy. Like your house, the ground beneath you is the best option.
When you are grounded, literally aware of your connection to the Earth, you can:
- Prevent the busy energy of life and others from distracting your focus
- Maintain a high level of energy yourself
- Direct your energy where you need it most
- Give generously without feeling drained or obligated or guilty
- Increase well-being in your body, mind, and spirit
These benefits lead to confident living every day of the year. This level of empowerment is especially handy during the holiday season.
Photo Credit: Greg Rakozy
I AM GROUNDED
Now that we’ve clarified what being grounded means, it’s time to discover how you can establish that state of being for yourself. Many yoga articles will share familiar strategies to do so, such as:
- Meditating daily
- Practicing restorative or yin yoga, where your body can be fully supported by the floor
- Saying “NO” to some invitations so you can fully enjoy the ones to which you say “YES”
- Scheduling quiet time at home with loved ones
- Soaking in the hot tub, or
- Getting a massage or acupuncture treatment
While those are fantastic suggestions (and one’s we suggest you consider as part of your holiday regimen), we want to suggest a different approach.
It’s called the I AM strategy.
In fact, it’s a simple plan you could use to reach any goal you have in life. Today, though, we’re going to use this plan to stay grounded and centered this holiday season. I AM is actually an acronym.
I = INTENTION
This simply means that you have the awareness that you want something new in your life. It could be a big dream or a specific goal. Your intention this holiday season could be to remain centered and true to your values even around challenging family members.
A = ATTENTION
Attention is another way of referring to your mental and emotional focus.
- Do you feel good about the idea you have?
- Are you able to take action toward your goal when you feel inspired?
- Can you relax into times of slow movement and trust everything will still work out?
Whether you are taking physical action, or just directing your thoughts toward your future, your attention stays on the desired outcome. The four activities outlined below are ways to focus your attention and stay grounded this holiday season.
M = MANIFESTATION
The third part of this process is all about watching your ideas take real, tangible shape in your life. Look at how your thoughts, emotions, and interactions shift as a result of where you placed your attention.
Photo Credit: Casey Brooke Photography
(1) BRAIN-INTEGRATED POSTURE
The brain-integrated posture is a simple way to arrange your body to reduce unwanted stress. When you are grounded, the right and left hemispheres of your brain work together effortlessly. The left hemisphere processes detailed information and works to logically understand the world. The right hemisphere allows you to understand pictures, grasp information as part of a whole, and comprehend emotions.
In chaotic times, like the holiday season, one hemisphere can shut down and communication between the two sides collapses. This limits your ability to learn new things, recall information you already know, and function at an optimal level.
When you put yourself in a brain-integrated posture, you reverse those unwanted outcomes.
How to get grounded with this posture:
- Sit in a comfortable chair, with your feet on the floor.
- Cross one arm over the other, at the wrist. Then cross one leg over the other, at the ankle.
- Relax your body as best you can, and take a few deep breaths. Imagine breathing all the way down past the belly button with each inhale, and let all of the air out on the exhale.
- Stay for 3-5 minutes if you can.
As a side note, this is a great way to stay grounded when you have to wait for any amount of time during the holidays. You can even cross your legs and arms casually while waiting in line, take a few deep breaths, and start to feel the effects of the brain-integrated postures in just seconds.
GET GROUNDED CLASS ACTIVITY
Kids love to play games, and your yoga students are often like big kids themselves. Invite them to embrace their inner youth and have fun in this process.
Step 1: Form a partner
Invite your class to find a partner. Have each duo stand about three feet apart, facing each other.
Step 2: Select Roles
One person will become Student A and the other Student B.
Step 3: Create a grounded feeling in Tadasana
- Invite everyone to come into tadasana, with their eyes closed.
- Instruct the class to feel their feet touching the ground beneath them.
- Have them find pada bandha, pressing down through the four corners of the feet and lifting the inner arch of the foot.
Step 4: Establish a connection to the center of the Earth
- Instruct Student B to imagine their favorite-colored rope — strong, long, and sturdy. Have them tie this imaginary rope snugly around their waste.
- Once their line is secure, shift your attention to the center of the earth. (Remember, the Earth is an incredible pathway for electrical current). Imagine that there is a large graviton ball at the earth’s core with giant, iron loops on this graviton surface.
- Have each person cast their bright-colored rope down between their legs and tie the other end to one of the hooks on the graviton ball.
- Cinch the rope so there is no slack between you and the center of the earth. Pull the length of the rope so tight that the soles of the feet are even more strongly connected to the floor. It can almost be so tight that your feet are sinking into the ground.
- When you feel the rope is secure between you and the earth’s core, have Student B open their eyes and look at their partner.
Photo Credit: Casey Brooke Photography
Step 5: Test your groundedness
- Instruct Student A to walk over and push on the shoulders of Student B as if to push them backward. This should only require a medium-strength push.
- Invite Student B to notice how strong they are. Observe how easy it is to remain upright and balanced. This heightens the feeling of being grounded.
Step 6: Provide contrast without being grounded
- Have students stay in the same role as you were in Part 1.
- This time, have the class close their eyes again and sense both of your feet touching the ground beneath you. At this moment, they would still have a rope tied from their waist to the graviton ball at the center of the earth.
- Now, undo that connection. Unhook the line from around your waist and set it aside on the floor next to you.
- When you feel that line is entirely disconnected, open your eyes and look at your partner.
- Repeat the same test from Step 5, only this time the results will likely be very different. The push will not have to be very hard, because each student will likely be a bit unbalanced and less sturdy.
Step 7: Get grounded again!
- Instruct Student A to tie their grounding cord once again.
- Have Student B push on their shoulders for the third time. Student A should feel even more firmly rooted than before.
Step 8: Switch roles
- Make sure Student A drops their grounding rope, just like they did in Step 4.
- Repeat Steps 4-7 with Student B pushing on the shoulders of Student A
Step 9: Stay grounded throughout class!
- Invite your entire class to return to their mats and find their grounded connection in tadasana once again.
- Each time you cue tadasana for the rest of class, invite students to tap into the keen awareness of stability and balance that has been cultivated by the grounding activity.
GROW A MONKEY TAIL WHEN IN CROWDS
Growing a monkey tail is another technique to help you remain grounded during the holidays. This imagery exercise invites you to also use a childlike playfulness and can be especially helpful to remain centered when amidst large crowds of people.
The monkey tail is a shortcut to the previous rope exercise, and we think it’s a lot more fun. This activity also utilizes the power of a graviton ball at the center of the earth. Instead of shooting a colored rope from your waist to the earth’s core, imagine that a cord is always connected from the graviton ball to an invisible loop on the surface of the earth just below your feet.
When you want to instantly create a grounded state, you imagine you are able to grow a monkey tail from your backside—at your tailbone. Then, at any moment, you can curl the end of your tail on that invisible loop at the Earth’s surface. Then just tighten your tail to increase your groundedness, and take a full, deep cycle of breath.
As you practice this more and more, you will be able to instantly get grounded (during the holiday season or any other time of your life!)
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Thanks to gravity, you have the ability to connect to the Earth beneath you multiple times a day. When life gets full, schedules get screwy, and the frivolity of the holiday season gets into full swing, it can be easy to lose your connection to your center. It can feel like you’re getting swept away in the eating and drinking and merriness of the festivities. Instead, stay grounded this holiday season by consciously seeing others through new eyes, tapping into your inner mountain, and keeping a playful monkey’s tail on when moving around in full force.
The end result is that you’ll be able to keep a clear mind and enjoy the holiday ride without losing your identity, values, or health.