Devotions during July are written by Sarah Grow. Sarah recently moved to Lyon, France from Minnesota and uses her yoga practice to connect with her new community. This series explores how yoga can be a tool to connect to the world regardless of the context.
Using Yoga to Connect to the World Around Us
Scripture: The trees of the Lord flourish, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. Psalm 104:16
Spiritual Focus “Seek out a tree and let it teach you stillness.” Eckhart Tolle, German-born spiritual teacher and author
Breath prayer: Inhale, root down, Exhale, reach out
Devotion: July often means vacation time and many people are traveling this summer, perhaps for the first time in a while. Whenever I travel, especially when I’ve traveled by plane and crossed a time zone or two, I find a place where I can put my bare feet—or even lie down—on the grass, sand, or soil. This practice, called grounding or earthing, helps to adapt physically and mentally to the destination. Studies suggest that when we reconnect to the earth by removing barriers, such as pavement and synthetic-soled shoes, the negative charge of the earth neutralizes the accumulated positive charge in our bodies because of disconnection. Grounding can also impact our circadian rhythms which allow our internal clock to adjust when traveling and support proper sleep.
Nature also helps me to ground when I return home. In the center of the park where I live is a large Cedar of Lebanon between 200-300 years old. Whether I’m returning from a trip, coming home from the city-center, or just opening the shutters in the morning, I gaze at the cedar tree and take in her regal presence. Presiding over the yard, I imagine her roots anchored deep in the earth and wonder at all that she has lived in her lifetime. Her strong trunk rises hundreds of feet above the ground and her immense branches spread wide over the hillside. She “teaches” me to align my head, heart, and pelvis along a vertical axis. From that center line, I feel the horizontal axis which connects outward toward everyone and everything around me. At times the grounding energy becomes so strong that l become stuck. Sometimes the horizontal, outward-focused energy pulls me off balance. Finding the right mix, the right integration of grounding and connecting energies, is part of our yoga practice. While God’s presence is always within us, when we practice with the intention of noticing this inward and outward balance, we deepen our sense of the Divine presence, and we flourish.
Practice pose: With bare feet directly on the ground, stand or sit in mountain pose. Inhale as you extend your arms toward the sky. Exhale as you open them slowly outward until you feel they are parallel to the ground. Notice where you sense the internal center of the vertical and horizontal axes. Eventually, allow your arms to rest by your sides. Try to maintain the sensation of center as you stand and breathe.