Mother Nature is moving towards spring and the growing season- once we get past all these crazy swings in temperature! It is a time to focus on the qualities of the earth. In our yoga practice we strive to bring these qualities into our body/mind/heart so that we navigate the ups and downs in our lives as gracefully as possible.

Earth represents heart qualities that include steadfastness along with consistency. It speaks to our roots as well- celebrating our own unique heritage and bringing the gifts of those that went before us forward into our own lives. To take the time to reflect by journaling as well as honoring our ancestors. Some of our upbringings were not that great-yet there were so many valuable lessons learned from our early childhood. It is our choice to decide to forgive and let go of the past and then live our best lives.

In the method of yoga I teach there are 4 Essential Techniques to physically aligning your body for strength and flexibility in balance. They are related to the elements of nature. The first one is to Open related to the spaciousness of the Sky; the second is to Engage which is related to the Earth energy of drawing in with muscular strength; the third is to Align which encompasses many subtle alignment cues and is related to Water and Fire; and the fourth is to Expand which is the stretching component related to the Air element.

It has taken me many years of study with Todd Norian- the founder of Ashaya Yoga to learn and to embody these techniques. The above is a very basic overview of the method and you learn much more by visiting his website at www.ashayayoga.com. Finding balanced action with these techniques in all the parts of the practice is a skill developed over time.

One way to bring it all together is to practice an action known as “Root to Rise.” Start with a basic pose known as Tadasana or mountain pose. Come to the front of your mat and plant your feet about hip width apart with the feet facing forward. Bring your arms out from your sides with the palms facing outward. Soften and breath as you Open to this pose. Then Engage your muscles by lifting your toes and hugging in from the ground up- like you are shrink wrapping your muscles to your bones. Align by taking your thighs back (keeping your knees soft-not locked) and draw your low belly in and up engaging your core. Lift and curl the head of your arms bones back so your shoulders lightly hug the back of your heart and your collarbones smile. Lastly Expand by ROOTING down from the core of your pelvis and RISING UP from your core up and out in all directions. Breathe the ujaii breath throughout this pose. You will gain great posture along with strength and a feeling of being grounded yet open.

Earth is also your ability to think grounding thoughts. If your mind is racing around ruminating about the past or worried about the future, then yoga will help you release that. Train your mind to focus on your breath and the present moment. It is all you have. Grounded thoughts are infused with steadiness, discernment and stillness. You release anxieties- the what ifs- or the could’ve, would’ve, should’ve that serve to keep you unbalanced. My favorite mantra “that was then THIS IS NOW!”

Rather than a weekly blog, I am now offering a monthly blog. It gives myself and all the teachers at the center time to deepen the themes focus and offer it in various ways throughout the month. Also, even though the state and Hamilton county have announced they are ending the mask mandate April 6th we are not. We are going to remain steadfast in asking everyone who comes for In Center classes to continue wearing masks in the lobby and common areas. We are also keeping the class size to 9 students so pre-registering for classes will continue as well. We will re-evaluate the In-Center class size limits each month.

Thank you for your steadfastness in maintaining your yoga practice with us. We are grateful! It keeps us grounded and focused on what truly matters here- YOU!

Janie Gunn