The whole of the pose while in yoga practice depends on its relationship to gravity and the ground.
Also the ground gives you a clear and stable reference for feedback about your body, as such is helpful to start building your pose by attending to the foundation.
All these must work in accord with the connection to the ground if it’s to work well.
If our foundation is compromised, so it’s our attention and our abilities.
If the foundation is weak, the pose will be weak.
That’s why at the beginning of a practice establishing the rule of breath awareness and synchronization with movement is essential.
Inside our bones there is growing and regeneration of the soft bone marrow, (which function is to produce our red and some white blood cells), just imagine what would happen if our red blood cells wouldn’t be able to carry the best quality of OXYGEN to our tissues and platelets.
Our inmune system (by default), would directly suffer collateral damage.
When our inmune system is compromised, as such is our mental awareness and concentration.
Why is this happening?
Oxygen keeps body cells working by releasing energy from the nutrients we obtain from food and breathing draws in plenty of oxygen, but an efficient transport system is required to carry the oxygen around the body.
Our heart and circulating blood are responsible to perform this role.
It is through the breath that we keep our blood circulating, the process of waste gas, carbon dioxide (produced by our body cells) is also happening.
So without breathing our brain would not be able to transmit electrical signals through our body taking us to an imminent energy shut down.
Needless to say, this could turn into an unnecessary challenge establishing
foundationb for any pose during a yoga practice.
Two sets of stretching seated asanas, will benefit the practitioners as part of a slowly somatic foundation.
For these reasons my experience as a Yoga Teacher is to start at the ground or bottom during a class with beginners or first time practitioners.
This will help them gain confidence to work up their transition based on a stable feedback gained from the relationship to gravity and the ground.
During advanced Vinyasa or Power Yoga, the practitioner had already gained the above mentioned relationship required for a good foundation.
That is why is considered an advanced level of yoga practice.
Rooting vs. Pressing
When we say “root or ground your feet” etc., what we mean is to establish a clear, even, and living connection with the ground. This is a sensate and dynamic experience. It is more than “pressing” because it is also receiving the information the action offers, and requires periodic attention to the regularly changing signals of your nervous system in order to sustain good practices. The foundation is an evolving process, not a one time act. As we warm up into a pose our needs shift, and what is possible changes.
The feet are comprised of a number of arches, maintained in a state of dynamic tension. If there was no tension your feet would be flat. You are the person who is maintaining your arches! Arches a resilient structures, which absorb shock as well as provide a springy dynamic quality to movements. To do this they need enough tension. One way to get a sense of augmenting their dynamic tension, and thus increasing their arch, is to lift the toes up strongly, and draw the sides of your feet towards the heels. After getting a sense of the feet drawing in and up with the above actions, lay the toes down and grip the ground with them. The toes are an essential part of your connection with the ground. You can play with these actions in standing poses. It will help cultivate a stronger foundation and more resilience.
When the Feet are part of the foundation one way to make sure they are firmly connected to the ground is to imagine they have four corners, and to root each of those corners in turn. This is a helpful intermediate step, but don’t get stuck believing they really have corners. After playing with the four corners see if you can find even better ways to refine your connection to the ground.
Like the feet, when the hands are part of the foundation it is important that they are intelligently placed—both to protect them, as well as your wrists and shoulders, and to give you the best possible support for your poses.
Since many of the hand balance poses share the same hand configuration, for brevity we are calling this “Floor Hands.” Floor hands have the following qualities:
The horseshoe shaped perimeter of the palm roots down, This includes the sides of the palms, as well as the metacarpals at the base of the fingers and thumbs. The metacarpals should root evenly. Avoid the tendency for the base of the index finger and thumb to rise. If you are unable to control this try spreading your hands wider a part and see if that helps. – The center of the base of the palm (at the carpel tunnel) should have a bit of lift, along with the underside of the wrists. This maintains space in the carpel tunnel. – The fingertips claw the ground, and the centers of the fingers lift. – The fingers are level with the ground—not leaning to one side. – If you are in symmetrical poses with both hands on the ground such as Adho Mukha Svanasana, place the wrist creases in a straight line. Also, place the center of your wrists outer shoulder width apart. If your shoulders are tight then the hands can be farther apart.
When your hands are in the air rather than on the ground, we are calling them “Air Hands.” Air Hands have the following qualities:
They are energized and alive. From the core of your torso extend out through the fingers actively. – Fingers can be either together or apart. Examine what effects these positions have in your body.
When we open our hands the feeling in the torso feels more expansive.
When they are closed the energy feels more pointed and directed.
Which serves you best?
When your pelvis and feet become part of the foundation, it is valuable for your connection through them to be clear, strong, and supportive. This is more possible if you are comfortable. Make sure you modify any pose so that you can approach it’s full expression comfortably and safely.
Use a lift if your hamstrings are tight.
In any sitting pose if you are unable to sit with the sacrum at least perpendicular to the floor, if not leaning forward slightly, then sit on a lift. This is so your leg flexors (psoas, quads) and/or adductors do not have to work to keep you upright. The lift can be one or more folded blankets; a bolster, a firm pillow, or even a chair. Be creative..
In seated poses where one or both knees are bent, feel free to place a support under them if they don’t comfortably rest on the ground or your feet. Unless you are actively addressing the muscles that lift your thigh and knee from the ground in that position, it can be counterproductive and fatiguing for the body to have to support the lifted thighs.
Last but not least;
Always keep in mind during yoga and even into life that “Without a solid foundation, you’ll have trouble creating anything of value.”