One of the most fundamental, yet often overlooked, characteristics to cultivate during yoga practice is groundedness. Even teachers can assume that students are grounded during class simply because they are standing, but without a proper ground, the asana, or posture, will falter (both internally, on the part of the practitioner, as well as outwardly noticeable). Many people are not entirely aware of what it means to “ground.”
To properly ground we must start at, well, the ground. Any part of the body that is touching the ground–usually the feet, legs, hips, and/or hands–should get first focus during any pose. To ground the feet, for example, pay attention to the foot at the base of the toes, beginning with the ball of the foot (the base of the big toe) and moving out toward the little toe. It can be helpful to lift the toes, spread them apart, and place them back on the ground to really feel the connection between the entire top of the foot.
The heel must also be grounded. Think of the base of the big toe, base of the little toe, and the heel as a tripod–a structure that greatly stabilizes anything it holds up (in this case, you). With grounded feet, feel the legs activate as they push the feet into the ground. From this stable place, feel the spine lengthen as the full expression of the pose is realized.
When the hands, sit bones, or any other part of the body is in contact with the ground, make a conscious effort to establish a firm ground first and then feel the posture blossom from this stability. If the hands are in contact with the ground, spread the fingers wide and push the base of the fingers, as well as the knuckles, into the ground as if you are pushing the ground away from you. Feel the arms activate and let the spine naturally lengthen as the posture comes to fruition.
If your sit ones are the grounded body part, feel the weight equalize between the sit bones. You might shift back and forth between them to feel the weight balance out. Then feel the sit bones push into the ground as you establish firm contact. From there, the legs and core will activate, and the spine can safely lengthen upward. No matter the posture, begin by grounding—through whatever area of the body is in contact with the ground—and your practice will grow from a strong foundation.