James Sanders Yoga

May Newsletter What does Root Down to Rise up mean?

illustration of yoga poses with roots

“Root down to rise up” It’s a common direction given in yoga classes, but what does it mean and why do we care?

In life, we talk about putting down roots, being grounded, being down to earth, and more. It’s clear as a society we see the value of being emotionally and mentally stable. From this stability we can strive for a balanced life with our family, friends, co-workers and communities.

As is often the case, yoga practice mirrors our larger lives. So what does it mean to be rooted, grounded, and down to earth in our yoga practice? Literally we build our poses from the ground up. When you think about it, every pose is a balance pose. We have part of the body which contacts the ground and the rest of ourself is stacked on top of that grounded contact. Of course, the less that is touching the ground, the more we feel the demands of balance in the pose.

A firm foundation

When building a home, we need a strong, level foundation before adding rooms and floors above ground level. In Asana, we start with whichever body parts are in contact with the ground. This may be feet, hands, back or belly, any part of us which is on the mat is the basis of our foundation. It is probably easiest to think about our feet in a standing pose to illustrate the concept. Try this:

  • hold something over head like an empty laundry basket, a large pillow or a watermelon
  • notice your natural stance
  • shift your weight to one foot and let that hip slip out to the side
  • press up over head and notice your stability, how high your load is rising, and where you feel compression in your body
  • now, center your weight equally on both feet, hip width apart
  • bring your hips directly over your ankles and knees
  • press down into the floor through your feet as though you want to push the ground away from you
  • press up over head and feel the strength of your legs, hips, core and side body
  • notice the different sense of stability, lift, & rising

Now try that again, but only standing on one foot.

This exercise gives a pretty clear sense of the rebounding energy of root to rise. Pressing downward into the floor, we find the structure and energy to rise toward the sky. Finding this action in a balance pose, we unite our focused mind and engaged body.

A beautiful thing about yoga teaching & philosophy is that we can take what we are taught into the laboratory of our own life, our own body. So, we listen to instruction, act on it, and then notice how it feels inside ourselves to determine if the teaching is true.

Another way to look at this phenomenon is in Newton’s third law of motion, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, when we drive energy down to the ground there is an equal and opposite upward rebound.

90 Minute Saturday Class on May 13

I have begun teaching a long form class at Yoga & Wellness in San Anselmo! The thing is, it is only offered once a month. The class is from 9:15-10:45 and it is both in-person and on Zoom, This is a fairly active/strong class. Each class will have a focus and for May, the focus is Strong and Balanced – What is the relationship between strength and balance? We will focus on developing strength from the feet up through our core while keeping a clam, steady mind which supports balance.

These classes are offered at the standard class price for Yoga & Wellness.

My Current Weekly Classes

Class Pricing

  • Woodacre Improvement Club Classes ~ $11 per class for members ($110 for 10 classes for members), $14 per class for non-members ($135 for 10 classes for non-members)
    • Payment for classes in Woodacre are made directly to me (cash, check, card or Venmo @James-Sanders-25)
  • San Anselmo Yoga & Wellness Classes ~ This studio has a variety of options
    • Monthly unlimited memberships are available
    • Classes start at $19 (when purchased as class packs)
    • Payment/Memberships are handled online at Sienna Smith Wellness
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