Root to Rise

“Root to Rise.” I’ve heard this – or some variation of this – a fair number of times in class over the years, and it’s something that’s really stuck with me for a variety of reasons. As I hear it in class, I see it as building a strong foundation for a pose, but it also stays with me for experiences outside the studio.

Let’s look at class first. It might be coming up into a mountain pose from a forward fold or into Warrior I or II where the feet are further apart. And the cue to root down invites you to take a moment before coming up and see how your feet are – depending on the pose, are they too close or too far apart? – and come up maybe feeling steady. While the upper body moves, the lower body is sturdy and supportive.

And often, I can tell. I can tell, for instance, when my Crescent lunge is a bit wobbly and know that’s only going to hold me back a bit if I continue forward. So when I think of building those roots, I take a moment to examine how I feel and what I may need to adjust to feel sturdier. When I have that firm base, I can rise up and hold or move into a balance. It’s from that rooted place that I feel steadier hinging forward into that Warrior III or twist from my Crescent and – gasp! – even turn my gaze because I’m comfortable that my base has got me.

With balance poses, those that may begin from standing, I hear the cue to “root’ the standing leg into the mat – into the Earth – and rise up into Tree pose or Dancer. If you’re off balance to begin with and try to lift one leg up, there’s a lot more dancing on the standing leg to try to regain a little bit of steadiness. And for me, that takes my mind off the pose and into “how can I steady myself?”

It was some time ago that I heard this “Root to Rise” in class, and I started thinking about how true that was for any new adventure. Sure, I could leap and see where I land, or I can do a little bit of prep work and then take off, feeling sure that I could go further or build a better landing. When I visit a new city, I do some research to see where I’m going to stay and what sites I most want to see. Last month I talked about my kayaking experience on The Mat’s Yoga Retreat, and my roots for that experience was the group I was going out on the water with and our experienced guides.

Whether in class or planning something new, hearing the guidance to “Root to Rise” is a good reminder for me to check my foundations.

This is the part of a series of posts for The Mat Yoga Studio, sharing my thoughts and observations as a student only. The views and opinions are my own experience.


Patricia returned to Texas after spending several years on both coasts. She's a writer, amateur photographer and traveler.

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