Earth Day is on April 22nd. That means many of us will be turning off our lights, cutting back on waste, and going green for a few hours of the day. But how sustainable are these practices really?
It’s all too easy to take for granted the gifts we receive from Mother Earth on a constant basis. By cultivating a mindful yoga practice that honors the Earth and the elements, we can begin to elevate our gratitude for the natural abundance that surrounds us—and consistently take efforts to preserve and protect these gifts.
One of the best ways to establish a connection with the Earth and our environment is to unlock our Root Chakra. The Root Chakra is located at the base of the spine. It is the first chakra, and is associated with a sense of safety, security, grounding and balance. By practicing postures that balance the Root Chakra, we not only become more rooted, but also more grateful for the Earth beneath us.
In this practice to get grounded and give gratitude, we will slowly and mindfully be moving through a series of postures that cultivate a connection with the Earth and our environment. Before getting started, I encourage you to go outside and immerse yourself in nature. Practice where you can feel the heat of the sun beating down on your back or breath in the fresh Spring air. Disconnect from music or devices that might normally distract us from our natural surroundings. Finally, let your intention for your practice be to give thanks to Mother Earth for her gifts of plenty.
Remember, we’re all part of one living, beating, breathing being. Take time to honor yourself and your connection to the Earth this month—and every month!
Begin your practice in child’s pose. Take a moment to bow down to Mother Nature. Take your time here, inhaling gratitude and exhaling any worldly distractions that won’t serve you here on your mat today.
Slowly find your way to Tadasana, or Mountain Pose. Though it might appear like there is not a lot going on, this is a very powerful pose. On each inhale, feel yourself growing taller, your chest expanding to receive the gifts around you. On each exhale, visualize roots coming out of your feet, grounding you deeper into the earth beneath you. Lift the inner and outer arches while balancing equally on all four corners of the feet. Engage the quads, lengthen through the side body, and draw the shoulder blades down the back. Soften all tension in the face, and keep a steady gaze on or slightly below the horizon.
In honor of the light and warmth we receive from the sun each day, move through six to ten Sun Salutations. You can take any variation, but don’t loose the integration of breath and movement as you transition through the flow.
Warrior 1 is a great pose for balancing the Root Chakra. From Downward Dog, step the right foot forward to meet your hands at the front of your mat. Ground the back foot down at a 45 degree angle. Inhale up, keeping a deep bend in the front knee. Ideally, hips are square towards the front of your mat. Raise the arms up overhead, being sure to broaden through the chest and relax the shoulder blades away from the ears. Hold here for a few breaths.
From Warrior One, interlace the fingers behind your back. If accessible, keep the palms touching. Inhale to lengthen. On the exhale, hinge at the hips to fold forward. Allow your head to drop to the inside of your knee. Allow the hands to drop as far over the head as possible. Pay special attention to the outer edge of the back foot, keeping it in firm contact with the ground beneath you. Stay here for a few breaths, humbling yourself to the Earth while enjoying the deep stretch in the hips and shoulders. Release the hands to find Downward Dog, then repeat Warrior 1 and Bowing Warrior on the other side.
It might sound cliche, but what better way to celebrate the Earth and honor nature than by taking some time in Tree Pose? As you move into the balancing posture, pay special attention to the ground beneath you. Begin on the right side. Tune in to the four corners of your foot. When ready, lift the left leg, bringing the foot to your ankle, shin or thigh. Inhale the arms up overhead. Draw energy up from the Earth and through your right leg. On each inhale grow taller, allowing your branches to fully extend. On each exhale, feel your roots sinking deeper. Stay here as long as you like, then switch sides.
Eagle to Warrior 3
Invite fluidity and the element of water into the body by focusing on moving with awareness and grace. This balancing sequence is challenging, so don’t worry if you fall out of it. Begin in Eagle Pose. With the hips square towards the front of your mat, wrap your left leg around your right, ideally bringing the toes to clasp around the shin. Inhale the arms up, then wrap the left arm under your right, working towards bringing the palms together. On the inhale power the elbows up. On the exhale, sink deeper into your Eagle.
From here, transition into Warrior 3. Release the arms to find namaste mudra at heart center. Release the left leg, but don’t allow it to touch the ground. Hinging at the hips, begin to fire the left leg back to bring your body perpendicular to your standing leg. Get grounded. When you feel balanced, extend the arms out in front of you to find the full expression of the pose. When you are done playing with the transition, switch sides.
Bridge or Wheel Pose
Lie on your back with the soles of your feet firmly connected to the ground beneath you. Keeping the thighs hugging in towards one another, begin to lift the hips up towards the sky, rolling the spine up off the mat. Avoiding tensing the buttocks without losing the height in the hips. You can role slightly onto the shoulders and clasp your hands behind your back. Alternatively, if wheel is in your practice and the spine feels warm, you can take that pose here. Allow yourself to feel the energy from the ground traveling through the soles of your feet through the front of the body, opening up your heard to expand and receive fully.
As always, end your practice in honor of Mother Nature with Savasana, or Corpse Pose. Allow your body to fully melt into the ground beneath you. Feel as if the Earth is cradling you as you take your final resting pose. Stay here as long as you need. When you finish, take the gratitude and grounding you’ve cultivated into your day and your life!
About Casey Siemasko, RYT 200
Casey is a wandering yoga teacher currently calling Costa Rica “home.” She brings the world of transformational content marketing to yoga teachers and retreats around the world. Learn more about her work or follow her adventures as a nomadic yogi.