9 Grounding Yoga Poses To Do When You’re Stressed
When life gets hectic and overwhelming, it’s difficult not to get stuck in your head — overthinking if your Slack to your boss was sufficiently casual, obsessing over having to go to another brunch with tier three friends, and so on. This can lead to feeling like you’re on autopilot or out-of-tune with your body. When you begin to feel disconnected, bringing yourself back to Earth, so to speak, can alleviate some of that everyday stress and stop the pattern of overthinking. Whether you’re at home, or even on your lunch break, there are grounding yoga poses that’ll help you feel more aware of your body you can try.
“The idea of feeling ‘grounded’ isn’t just yoga teacher speak. It’s actually a very important concept when it comes to our overall health and wellbeing," Kelsey Ravlich, a yoga teacher based in Calgary, Canada, who's featured on the Livekick fitness app, tells Bustle via email. "As humans, we spend many hours in our heads. We’re thinking, stressing, worrying, wondering, imagining, [....] ultimately it means we’re directing our energy upwards.” She says that spending so much time in your head can exacerbate anxiety. Instead, “Being grounded is about refocusing our energy in a downward direction.”
Grounding is a technique that is also commonly suggested by mental health professionals. As Psychology Today reported, different coping skills — such as mindfulness, spending time in nature, or writing — can help ground you if you’re feeling out-of-touch with yourself. What’s more, a 2015 found that a particular type of grounding, called “Earthing,” where you quite literally sit on the bare ground, had a positive impact on mood.
While certain grounding techniques or yoga poses may not be effective for everyone, finding a few go-to skills that can keep you from feeling burnt out is key to awareness. According to yoga instructors, these nine calming yoga poses can leave you feeling more grounded throughout a frantic day.
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Vanessa Lherisson, the founder and director of the global community BlackGirlYoga, tells Bustle via email that Tadasana, aka mountain pose, is the "pose of all poses," and its purpose is to promote mind-body connection. To practice mountain pose, you have to follow a series of steps that focus on engaging all the muscles of your body — starting at your feet, and moving all the way to the crown of your head. In this pose, Lherisson explains it's important to keep your feet grounded to the mat, while your shoulders remain soft.
"Standing tall in Tadasana, or mountain pose, will help create stability and symmetry, and encourage students to feel their connection to the Earth and the energy we can receive from Mother Nature," Catherine Marquette, an E-RYT 500 yoga teacher and vice president of communications for the nonprofit Yoga Alliance, tells Bustle.
2. Child's Pose (Balasana)
Lherisson says that Balasana — more widely called child's pose — is a "pose of renewal and reset." To try it, you start on your hands and knees, and then spread your knees wider than your hips, with your big toes touching. After that, you lower your hips to your heels, and move your hands forward until your head is resting on your yoga mat (or on a prop).
"Resting your forehead on the ground with the eyes closed can feel like you’re bringing your head from being ‘in the clouds’ back down to the earth," says Liz Coucean, a yoga instructor and meditation guide for The Villij, an organization that creates wellness spaces and events for women of color. "When you become aware of your breath, this pose can create a feeling of safety as the body feels supported by the ground."
3. Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward dog is probably one of the most well known poses in yoga, even to beginners, or people who don't practice yoga at all. Lherisson says that downward dog promotes grounding, and says to assume the pose with a slight bend in the knees to put pressure on your wrists. "Holding this for five breaths [allows] the mind to be at ease here, while also building strength and endurance," she explains.
4. Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
As Verywell Health writes, Supta Baddha Konasana is a reclined yoga pose that is all about opening the hips and allowing your body to really settle into your mat. "Begin by setting up your base tower of pillows, meaning one or two stacked on top of each other, and one perpendicular across to create a T-shape. Take a seat in front of the pillows, and bring the soles of your feet together, creating a basic bound angle pose," Ravlich explains. "From here, keeping your feet together, lean your torso backwards onto your pillow palace, and allow your arms to rest at your sides or on your hips."
While in reclined bound angle pose, Lherisson says to place your right hand over your heart, and your left hand over your belly, for a "gentle reminder [that] you are here, and you are loved."
5. Yogic Squat (Malasana)
According to Yoga Journal, Malasana is restorative, calming, and grounding pose that allows for energy to flow downward. "To enter this pose, you can place the feet wider than the hips, then begin to bend the knees and lower the hips toward the ground," Coucean says. "If it feels comfortable, place the arms on the inside of the thighs, and bring the palms together in a prayer position. Feel free to rest the hips on a block or prop."
6. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Kirani)
According to Ravlich, legs-up-the-wall pose (Viparita Kirani) "refreshes your body from the hips down, ultimately releasing quite a bit of stress as well." To properly get into this pose, you bring your hips to the base of the wall, and, well, put your legs up against the wall. Then, you want to straighten the lower half of your body as much as possible until you are closely against the wall.
While in Viparita Kirani, Coucean says to "inhale for four seconds, then exhale for six seconds. If you’d like to incorporate a mantra, as you inhale, repeat to yourself 'as I breathe in, I receive,' and as you exhale, repeat, 'as I breathe out, I let go.'"
7. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
To bring more awareness to your body, Marquette suggests practicing tree pose, which she says can be "both challenging and calming." In order to do tree pose, begin in mountain pose, and take a few deep breaths. Then, shift your weight onto your left leg, and raise your right leg off the floor until it gently rests on the inside of your left thigh, with your toes pointing downwards. Once you're feeling balanced, you can opt to life your arms above your head.
8. Four-Part Breathing
When you need to feel more grounded in a public space like work, busting out into a yoga pose isn't always practical. However, Ravlich says yogic breathing can be valuable, explaining that, "four-part breathing, sometimes called square breathing, is easy to remember and can be done anywhere."
To practice four-part breathing, begin by taking a few normal, deep breaths. Then, Ravlich says to inhale a "large belly breath" to the count of four through your nose, and to hold it for four seconds. Next, you exhale to the count of four, and when you have no air left, you wait four seconds before taking a four-second belly breath again. Simply repeat the process to create some extra calm in your life.
9. Standing Yoga Poses (Standing Asanas)
According to Marquette, standing yoga poses (such as warrior poses, or triangle pose) are great to practice when you're feeling out-of-touch, or disconnected from your body. "Standing asanas encourage a feeling of being grounded and help to cultivate balance — qualities we need whether we are practicing yoga, or living life off of the mat," she says. "A simple linkage of three or four poses is all it can take to reset."
Making time in your busy schedule to focus on the present through grounding yourself can help to quiet an overworked mind, and combat burnout. Adopting a few of these yoga poses into your A.M. routine, or incorporating them into a full yoga flow, can help you feel more aware and in-tune with your body.