Practices for Steadiness and Presence

Practices for Steadiness and Presence
In the same way that we see leaves fall away from the trees, this season is the time for us to shed some of the clutter we’ve picked up over the course of this past year. We’re well into Vata season by now and this airy energy tends to leave us feeling as if we are a part of the fallen leaves, drifting in the wind. Both fortunately and unfortunately, this feeling is completely normal. If you’re experiencing anything that feels overwhelming or ungrounding, you are not alone.

When we feel like we are drifting in this way, what tends to happen is we reach for any sense of steadiness that we can find. We focus on the end goal that we’re seeking and lose sight of what is happening in the present moment. Especially now, as we continue to try to find a sense of normalcy, all of us are susceptible to experiencing this uprooted feeling at various scales.

If you’re anything like me, your mind is really good at creating stories. These stories of thinking, re-thinking, and sometimes overthinking lead us on journeys to faraway places. The hyperactivity of our minds makes us even more susceptible to feelings of anxiety and stress. Whether we are making plans for the holidays coming all too quickly, thinking of the winter that is right around the corner, or projecting into the new year already, we tend to get focused on the destination of where we are headed–an almost myopic focus on the end goal.

The end goal mentality leaves us always wanting more, we fall into the narrative of “I’ll be happy when…” Each time we reach our goal, a new one appears and the story continues on and on. What’s missed when we live in that way are all of the moments in the space between one big accomplishment to the next. We forget to live in the present and we lose so much of the seemingly small, but often incredibly impactful, moments of connection.

So, how can we return to the present moment? How can we find a sense of presence and stability amid so much change?

Explore These Asanas to Support Your Steadiness

To connect with the present moment, there are endless practices we can invite into our world. Yoga asana is one way to offer connection to your breath, your body, and your spirit. When we can cultivate this connection within all that we are, we become more capable of accessing that grounded sense of self in each present moment both on and off the mat.

As you move into these asanas, you’re welcome to bring any props or supports into your space to create the most supportive container for your healing. Spend a few minutes in each of these shapes to find a grounded sense of stability in the present moment. Explore what you need most each day, you might practice one shape, two, or all of them in one session. The invitation is to offer yourself what feels best and settle in there.

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)

  • Find your way into a comfortable seated position. Then, extend your legs forward in any capacity that feels good to you. If there’s any tension in your back body or hamstrings you might sit on a pillow and/or place a pillow under your knees to add more support.
  • From here, begin to reach your arms over your ears as you breathe in and allow your spine to grow tall. When you are ready to exhale, fold forward and reach your arms towards your toes. There is no need to hold on to your toes, maybe your hands rest on your shins, maybe they rest on the ground alongside your legs. Wherever your hands land is perfect. If you have pillows, blankets, or any supports around you, try placing a pillow or two on top of your legs to ground your heart and let yourself be held.

Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)

  • Begin by laying on your belly. Rest your feet a little bit wider than the hips if that feels easeful, or as wide as feels good. If you’d like to release some pressure in the low back try turning your toes towards one another and letting your heels drift away from each other.
  • Turn your elbows out to either side, in line with your shoulders. If it feels comfortable, let your forearms rest one on top of the other or stack your hands on top of one another.
  • Gently rest your head on your top hand or forearm. If there is any tension in your neck, place a blanket or towel under your head to offer support.
  • Notice how your breath moves in the body. As you inhale and exhale, feel the front body ground into the earth beneath you. Pause here feeling this steady support.

Malasana (Garland Pose)

  • To enter this shape, begin in a standing position. Walk your feet a little bit wider than your hips and begin to turn your heels towards each other and toes outward.
  • Bend deeply into your knees until your seat has settled towards your heels. To support your shape as you hold here for a few minutes, place a pillow, block, or any form of support under your seat to lift the ground towards you.
  • Hold here for as long as feels good, knowing that nothing is required of you. If five breaths is what lands in your space today, allow that to be enough.

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

  • This shape will be taken from a recline position. Find a comfortable space to lie down, allow your back body to rest. Let your feet be wider than your hips and your arms rest by your sides. As a gesture to ground into space, you might place your palms facing down against the earth. To explore opening the heart and creating a gesture of receiving, allow the palms to face upwards. To create deeper expansion across the chest and collar bones, let your elbows come into a cactus position.
  • Resist the desire to ‘do’ anything here and simply allow yourself to be.

  • You are welcome to lie flat on the ground with no support, other than the ground, beneath you. If you have pillows, blankets, blocks, or straps, you are always welcome to invite those in. Placing a pillow or two under your knees can be particularly grounding as you land here.

The offering is to focus on the journey, the direction you are headed, and to let go of attachment to the destination or any expected outcome. When you find yourself moving through space and you notice your thoughts pulling you towards what’s next, be reminded that you are here and now. You exist in this present moment. For me, it is much easier said than done which is why having those go-to poses and practices is so important. They allow me to root deeply into the present moment and get grounded whenever I need it most.

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