The Practice of Rooting in Yoga
Lynwood L. Giocomini said, “Like a gardener, I believe what goes down must come up.” A gardener may believe that what goes down must come up, but a yogi believes that what goes down, and how decisively it goes down, determines what comes up, and how high. This makes rooting in yoga one of the practice’s most important and elemental concepts.
Connections between gardening and yoga are, it seems, as plentiful as seeds on a sunflower. In the garden of our practice, we cultivate our poses. Sometimes we have to pull out weedy bad habits. Always we have to till, prune and water. Neglect usually results in decay, but sometimes, as with a perennial tucked away in a far corner, poses bloom when we least expect them to. And then there’s patience: in a garden, as in a yoga practice, nothing happens overnight.
Rooting in Yoga: What Goes Down Must Come Up
But of all the links from your mat to your garden, nothing is more fundamental than understanding that what goes down must come up. Learning to root down will revolutionize your yoga practice because it gives you the ability to lift up and create space in your body. In essence, whatever body part is in contact with the floor presses down.
In standing poses (see Triangle Pose photo at top) the rooting is in your feet. In Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), it’s your hands and feet. In Headstand Pose (Sirsasana), your forearms and the crown of your head root down, and in straight-leg seated poses, you root your sitting bones and legs.
Why does rooting in yoga poses work? Think about a tennis ball. Drop it and it will bounce, a little. Hurl it to the ground and it will fly back up again, the size of the rebound a mirror image of the force that sent it to the ground.
The next time you take a yoga pose, first find the root. Take your mind to the place that goes down. Press it down for a long moment, and see what lifts.