It’s something that’s innate in the human race through the process of questioning and asking, and trying to seek something that is larger outside of ourselves, which to me is the coolest thing ever.
– Clara Roberts-Oss
Developing a grounding practice to come back into alignment with yourself may be initiated through a Sadhana. A Sadhana is a daily spiritual practice that brings you back into a sacred connection within. It’s the practice of introspection. It’s the practice of seeking to come into contact with the Divine.
Clara launched a 30-Opportunities Virtual Yoga Challenge on June 1st to create a space for the introspection through a daily yoga practice complete with journaling prompts and guided meditations. The objective for participants was to get grounded and see what shifts when one commits themselves fully to a sole intention. You can read the stories, see photos, and get news on similar events by joining the community Facebook Group.
In our weekly discussion, Clara shared how she stayed grounded in labor with her daughter, Karmen, what she hopes to pass on to her next generation, why grounding is important- especially in the summer months- and how to greet the shadow aspects of ourselves when we push through obstacles that block our path.
Below are the highlights from our talk, you can watch on Youtube, or listen on Spotify.
Class of the Week for Grounding
Interview on Grounding with Clara
Stephanie: We’re really excited to talk about something we launched a week ago, the 30-Opportunities Yoga Challenge that came out on June 1st. What’s really cool about this practice is the emphasis on community balanced with the emphasis on introspection. It really asks you to honor your own experience. Clara, what is it that you want people to take away at the end of this process?
Clara: The biggest takeaway I wanted people to have coming out of the 30-Opportunities Challenge is to reignite the power of dedication, the power of daily practice, and that doesn’t necessarily need to be showing up to the mat. It could be a meditation cushion. It could be quite simply your intention for the day, but the key behind it is having intention in doing something. For the purpose of connecting to yourself or something greater than you, depending upon whether or not you believe in the divine or God.
Stephanie: What is a yoga Sadhana and why would one explore such a concept?
Clara: People who do Sadhanas are actually known as Sadhus and are people who take up any kind of spiritual practice. Another word that people would use is Sannyasa, which is like a renunciate, and they’re the ones who would only practice and have let go of their worldly life. A Sadhana for those of us who are householders is a daily practice that we incorporate into our regular life.
Stephanie: What’s the point of doing something like that, a Sadhana or daily practice?
Clara: The idea of the practice is different in the fact that it asks you to get grounded by connecting to our own divinity or our own selves. Then when we go through the rest of our day doing regular tasks, we do it hopefully with more intention and more presence.
And so we moved from that space within which a generally more grounded, more centered, less reactive, more responsive space.
Stephanie: Talk a little bit about the class this week centered on the theme of getting grounded.
Clara: It’s an Earth-themed class, so we stayed super low to the ground, not moving very quickly. We chose to release this class at this time of year because we’re moving in towards summer and at least in the northern hemisphere, we have a lot more heat. There’s a lot more going on. People are outside more. So there’s a lot more fire. A grounding class is a great way to balance the fire with earth or water. And so this style of practice brings us back down to ourselves. Move slowly, not too complicated, more introspective.
Stephanie: What is the relevance in grounding and understanding the roots of yoga practice?
Clara: One of my favorite quotes is, ‘In order to move forward, you need to know what came before’. To understand not only your blood lineage but also the lineage of whatever practices you’re doing, knowing where it came from and how it came to really allow you to move forward with more honor. You’re respecting the path that you’re walking and all those who paved it before you.
Stephanie: Would you also say that in understanding our history, we create more space to heal?
Clara: Kind of building on that and then riffing off of it in a different context, is that I think that there have always been seekers. In all traditions all over the world, which I think is one of the coolest parts about all this, in that we’ve been asking the bigger questions for centuries upon centuries upon centuries. So even outside of the lineage of yoga, there’s been seeking in looking and feeling for the divine. It’s something that’s innate in the human race through the process of questioning and asking, and trying to seek something that is larger outside of ourselves, which to me is the coolest thing ever.
Stephanie: Have you thought about any of the things that your parents, teachers, or traditions have imparted on you that you want to give to your family- to Karmen?
Clara: The biggest thing I want to give Karmen is freedom. I remember meeting a friend for the first time, who was like, ‘Wow, you were really loved when you were young for who you are’. And I was in the fact that I was really encouraged to be the person that I was without any apologies around it.
Stephanie: Why did she say that to you?
Clara: Just the confidence that I have. She was like, ‘I can tell you were really supported when you were young’. And that’s the biggest thing that I want [for Karmen]. I was given that from my parents. One of the things that my dad told me recently is that before the age of five he actually didn’t teach me manners. He felt that we spend our whole life having to do things like say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’, and all that. And that there’s only a very short window to be a child and to be free. He wanted to put as little constriction as needed. He allowed me to roam free. And I think that that was one of the greatest gifts I was given as a child.
Stephanie: What can you say about grounding in terms of persevering and enduring moments where you can’t escape? Perhaps speak to when you gave birth to Karmen.
Clara: It was really cool being in labor because I’ve been in three birthing rooms as support. I’ve seen women give birth, and that’s an amazing thing to witness. I was really excited to kind of see what the other side looked like, what it was to give, to give birth. What happens is you go into an altered state, literally through the hormones and everything, so you’re in and out of yourself. Grounding is not the right word, but you’re forced to be very present. And the other thing that forces you to be very present as this very intense sensation known as contractions. I imagined that every time the contraction came, I would literally dive into it, like you dive into a pool of water, and kind of breathe into it. And there were times when I felt like I was deep in the earth and there are other times where I felt like I was in the water.
The biggest thing to do is to actually not do anything to allow it to happen to you. And so you’re just on the ride without trying to change it or fix it or do anything about it. It’s almost like someone’s pulling you and taking you on this ride.
Stephanie: So you’re receiving the experience. You’re not resisting?
Clara: No you’re receiving. You have to surrender. I felt like my midwife actually even said it right when she said, ‘At a very intense point in the labor is preparing you for Parenthood because Parenthood is the confidence to surrender’.
I feel like all practices are constant surrender. So surrendering to the sensation, surrendering to what’s happening, trying not to fight it. When you fight it, your body literally contracts. So you need to relax into it, to soften into it.
Stephanie: So would you say then that a big part of grounding is surrender?
Clara: I think it depends on your relationship to the Earth. My relationship to the Earth as somebody who has a lot of air and fire, means I have a lot of movement. A lot of the time I need to surrender to come down and to come back to Earth.
Stephanie: Earth is associated with being dense, heavy, stable, grounding, and dark. Tell me more about honoring the darkness in the practice- why someone would want to explore the darkness or the shadow.
Clara: I think the biggest part of the shadow is that we push away from it because we’re uncomfortable with it or we’re ashamed of it. Or we have guilt around it, we want to hide from it or hide it from other people when it is us. There cannot be darkness without light or lightness without dark.
They both live inside of each other. And there’s so much to learn. This makes me think of one of my favorite authors, Rob Brezsny, who uses astrology really is a medium for his writing. He wrote a great book called Pronoia and in it, he has something called the Shadow School. The Shadow School is all about witnessing intense or negative emotions that arise, and using it as an opportunity to learn. To learn more about ourselves, to kind of dig into the fertile ground, the dark earth and the parts of ourselves that we’re not necessarily proud of.
Stephanie: And that’s something that will come up perhaps in the 30-Opportunities Challenge, in the sense that when you stay with something for a prolonged period and keep meeting yourself, maybe you get into the shadow element that you mentioned.
Clara: Yeah. Especially when your body gets tired or you’re not feeling good that day. When there’s resistance, there’s always an interesting opportunity to grow.