As the brisk air of autumn arrives, we are reminded that vata season is approaching. The cycles of nature move in different forms and at different times depending on where you are located. Vata season is present during the time of year that most embodies the qualities of the vata dosha: dry, airy, light, cold, changeable, and mobile.
When these qualities are present in our surroundings the desire to change as the seasons do is a natural and welcome shift. It can be a confusing practice to remain grounded when there is an innate desire to be fluid or mobile in a lot of ways. To add another layer, navigating this change in season with the uncertainty of the pandemic lingering, finding a sense of solid ground can feel like a struggle. Creating routines or new habits that shift as fluidly and freely as we do is one of the cornerstone practices that can offer us the sense of stability we seek.
In your exploration of this transformative time, consider inviting in these practices to help you remain grounded in the midst of movement.
Pranayama to Get Grounded
Find a comfortable and grounded way of being, that might be seated or lying down. Take a few breaths without the need to control or shift anything, allow these first few breaths to guide your awareness to the present moment.
In this breathing practice we will be using a count of 4 as we inhale, holding the breath for a count of 4, exhaling for 4, and holding at the bottom for 4.
When you are ready to begin, start by exhaling all the air out, clearing any stagnation from the lungs. On your next inhale, breath in for a count of 4-3-2-1, at any pace that feels comfortable for you. Hold your breath at the top of your inhale for 4-3-2-1, slowly release the breath for the same count of 4-3-2-1. At the bottom of your exhale, hold for 4-3-2-1. Continue with the breath for as many rounds as you’d like. You’re welcome to increase or decrease the count as needed.
Find a comfortable and grounded way of being, that might be seated or lying down. Take a few breaths without the need to control or shift anything, allow these first few breaths to guide your awareness to the present moment. Remember that there is no right or wrong way of being or breathing, whatever manifests in this moment and in this practice is exactly as it needs to be. There is nothing to fix here, simply arriving with your breath is enough.
If you’d like to follow along with this breathing practice, we’ll be navigating a 3-part breath or Dirga Pranayama. You might read this as you practice the first round or so to get familiar, you might also choose to read it fully and then place it to the side when you are ready to practice. However you chose to arrive, we’ll begin by creating a clearing.
With your next inhale, breathe in through your nose and fill your lungs all the way up. As you’re ready to exhale, open your mouth and sigh the air all the way out. Repeat that twice more, inhale through the nose and exhale with a sign out of the mouth. Notice how the breath settles in the body.
When you’re ready, guide your next inhale towards your low belly, let this breath fill your low belly and as you exhale let the belly settle. For three rounds of breath allow your inhales and exhales fill and release the belly. Adding on, with your next inhale imagine the breath traveling towards the ribs. Allow this inhale to fill the low belly then rise up to the ribs, the exhale releases the ribs then the low belly.
Repeat this three times. Finally, on your next breath, allow the inhale to rise all the way towards the collar bones. Start by filling the low belly, move towards the ribs, and let the inhale rise up through the chest reaching the collar bones. Your exhale will settle the collar bones, ribs, and the low belly.
Repeat this breath 10 times or as many times as you’d like until you feel complete. If you lose count or track of the breath, remember to be gentle with yourself, simply guide your awareness back to the breath once again.
After you’ve completed as many rounds as feels good, release control of the breath and let the inhales and the exhales return to their natural pace. Take a few moments in stillness to honor yourself and thank yourself for showing up here to a grounding practice. As you transition back into your day, you may even create an intention to carry with you to keep you grounded and aligned.
Asanas to Get Grounded
Child's Pose or Rock pose
Balasana or Vajrasana
To enter child’s pose, balasana, begin in a tabletop position. Your hands will connect to the ground under your shoulders and your knees will land under your hips. Connect the big toes behind you and guide your hips back towards your heels. If you’d like, you can take your knees a bit wider than your hips so the heart can rest closer to the earth.
Using a blanket at the shins to connect your seat to your heels may be supportive in this shape, you might also consider placing a pillow or bolster under your heart to support your torso. Allow yourself to find comfort and rest here for a few grounding breaths.
If child’s pose isn’t quite working today, you might ground in space by taking on another shape. To make your way into rock pose, vajrasana, begin the same way, in a tabletop position. From here connect the tops of your feet to the ground and walk your hands back towards your knees.
Allow your seat to connect with your heels and shins then let your spine grow tall, reaching the crown of your head towards the sky. The hands can overlap in your lap or rest beside your hips. You might invite a blanket in to support your seat, allowing the blanket to land between the sitting bones and the shins.
From child’s pose or rock pose walk your hands forward through a tabletop position. As you ground your hand into the earth let your knees lift and make your way into downward facing dog. As you’re ready, walk your feet to meet your hands towards the top of your mat.
In the forward fold position, breathe in to rise all the way to standing with your arms over head. As you exhale, let your arms settle and rest by your hips. Allow your feet to land wherever it feels comfortable, whether that be hips distance apart, wider than the hips, or feet connected.
With the hands resting by the hips, you might explore what it feels like to face the palms forward or see how it feels to have the palms facing the legs. Wherever you’ve landed, allow your body to begin to settle, feel your feet grounded into the earth beneath you.
Feel your breath travel through the body, invite the gaze to land towards the ground or the eyes to close all the way. Take a few rounds of breath standing tall in the fullness of your being, grounded firmly in your truth, your power.
When you are ready, begin to fold forward once again and ground your hand into the mat. Step your left foot toward the back of your mat to find your way into a low lunge position, invite a blanket under your left knee as a cushion to support the body if that feels good. As you become ready, bring both of your hands to the inside of your right leg and begin to walk your right foot over towards the right side of your mat.
This is a wonderful place to invite blocks into your space and allow the hands to rest on the blocks. If this feels good in the body, stay here. If you’d like to create a more active shape, consider lifting your back knee off the floor. You might also bring your forearms to the blocks or the ground to find a new experience of this shape. Take about 5 to 10 grounding breaths here and then, when you are ready, switch sides.
From lizard pose on the second side, find your way into a tabletop position. Shift your heels to one side and have a seat on your mat, bringing your legs out in front of you. If you’d like to create more space for the hips and pelvis to get grounded, bring a blanket under your seat.
From here, connect the soles of your feet and let your knees drop to either side. You are welcome to keep the spine upright if the sensation here feels expansive, maybe you place blocks or pillows under your knees to bring the ground towards you. To add more sensation here begin to walk your hands forward creating a forward fold in this bound angle shape. Breathe here for as long as it feels good.
Legs Up The Wall
When you are ready, let the spine grow tall once again and extend your legs in front of you. As you prepare for this next shape, make your way towards a wall. Bring your mat, towel or blanket with you to create a comfortable space to lay on. Then connect one of your hips towards the wall. Start to move your legs up the wall as you recline onto the ground. Your spine will be in connection with the mat and your heels will be resting up the wall.
Take your arms into any position that feels comfortable, they might rest by your hips, in a T position, or connect to the torso in some capacity. Rest here for as long as you’d like, taking a full 10 or 20 minutes here will offer a deep groundedness.
When you are ready to release this shape, press your feet into the wall to gently slide away. Draw your knees towards your heart, breathing in gratitude for yourself for showing up here today and creating space for your practice. Find your way back into a comfortable seated position and pause for another few breaths, giving yourself time to transition back into the day.
As we shift with our surroundings, inviting in practices that keep us grounded will allow us to remain aligned and not get swept away with the winds of change.
By tuning into our environments and listening to the ways in which these shifts are taking form, we can create our routines that empower the connection we have with our surroundings. Most of us already adapt to the change in season without even being aware of it. Imagine what can happen when we tap into our awareness and adapt with intention.
Through navigating the many transitions of this life, what grounding practice can you invite in that will support you and allow you to remain connected through the fluctuations?