When we suffer from anxiety, our minds can become scattered and our bodies riddled with tension. Yoga has the ability to pull us out of a state of anxiety and place us into an environment of physical and mental solitude. Practicing yoga enables us to use all of our physical senses to help pull us back to calmness. One powerful sense we can learn to apply and cultivate in our asana (pose) is touch. By shifting our attention into pressing our hands and feet to the earth and grounding our asana, we've established a stable environment that can be calming and healing.
The sensation of feeling "out of control" or medically known as "dissociated" can be a very terrifying feeling. By applying these three steps below with two simple yoga postures called All Four and Balasana (child pose), we can begin to learn that when feeling out of control, we have the power and ability to take back that control.
- All Four pose. Position yourself onto all fours with hands underneath shoulders and knees under hips. Lengthen body from hips to armpits. Spread your fingers and if possible, flex and press your toes into the ground (see photo above). Otherwise, rest the back of your feet onto the ground.
Breathe with purpose. Begin to inhale and exhale slowly on four counts in each direction, closing your eyes or fixing your gaze at your right thumb. Allow your mind to focus on the feelings and sensation of the ground underneath your hands and feet. As you continue to breathe, steadily allow the weight of your body to be distributed into your hands and feet, pressing the weight into the ground. Attune your senses into the stability and solitude of the earth. Maintaining this position, allow your mind and body to observe the present, centering your thoughts on the breath you breathe and the earth you feel under your body.
After the 5th or 6th breath, begin to fold your body over your legs, allowing the top of your feet and forehead to rest on the floor, hands extended over your head with palms facing down (see photo above).
- Focus with your mind and body. With your entire body resting on the floor, pay attention specifically to the ground you are physically touching. Using the powerful sense of touch, allow your body (especially your hands and feet) to retire into the earth below. Allow your mind to meditate on the present and attune your ears to your breath. Feeling your body touching the earth, let your breath be with purpose. Imagine your body sinking deeper into the earth, relinquishing all stress and anxiety from your body. Engage and surrender your mind into the moment. When your mind is focused on the present, you are unable to dwell on the past or future. Technically, you can only focus on one thought at a time.
- "Grounding" with touch. Begin to feel a sense of belonging instead of feeling displaced. Remind yourself that the earth is solid and consistent. As you acknowledge the sensation of your body touching the ground, you will also become more keenly aware at the rhythm of your breath and a quiet mind.
When you learn the art of steadfastness (grounding) in your yoga session, amazing things begin happen. You begin to have more control in your life, thus creating more confidence in yourself. Knowing you have the ability to take control of situations that were once "uncontrollable" builds a sense of security in your psyche.
The reason why yogis are so passionate about yoga is not only because it develops a strong, lean body but because it has the ability to keep you mentally stable in a chaotic world.
Most important, be patient and let your body "adjust" to this routine. Your body wants to be well. Gradually, as you practice the power of touch and "grounding," your mind and body will become familiar with the process and healing will begin. You can practice as little or as long as you wish. Just be certain to practice daily so the process becomes a habit and your body begins to trust. Let muscle memory develop.
If you do not have access to the floor, you can use a chair and tabletop. Apply "touch" with your feet on the floor and your hands on the table. Rest your head on the table if possible.