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Root down to Rise up.


I love teaching yoga to a group of dedicated yogi’s at 6am twice a week. Yes, it’s early (really early) but I know for most of the people who show up that if it wasn’t for that early class, they likely wouldn’t be able to fit yoga into their busy schedules.

I get it. I used to be just like them, going to class at 5:30 or 6:00 am, knowing that once I finally made it home from my long commute at the end of the day there is no way I would have be able to get my butt to my mat. In fact, on some days I would be lucky to get my butt off the couch to do much of anything.

Having worked in the corporate world for more than a decade, I know first-hand how exhausting it can be. I understand the long hours, the Sunday evening dread and the never-ending meetings. I also know how beneficial yoga can be when you’re fully ingrained in the daily grind of commuting, conference calls, airports and strategy sessions.

So when one of my students pulled me aside and told me that something I had said the previous week had turned into her mantra at work ever since, I was really interested. Curious, I asked her what I could have possibly said that turned into a corporate work-life mantra.

She shared that when we were transitioning into a warrior II, I had said the words, “root down to rise up.”

In her role as a senior leader, she is tasked with motivating her teams when things get tough. Apparently they were going through some challenging changes and in her work to help her team continue to move forward she shared a yogic philosophy with them.

She coached them on how they had to focus on building their foundation beneath them before they could start to build upward. They had to stand strong in their core values and beliefs in order to begin to rise again.

Root down to rise up.

As I contemplated what she said, I began to think about how this applies to our daily lives. My aha moment came to me just a few days later as I stood at a family gathering following my grandmothers funeral.

I realized in that moment, as I looked around at my immediate and extended family, that even though they aren’t all a part of my daily life, they are my foundation. My family members know me; the little girl I used to be and the middle age woman I am now. When life throws me curveballs, I know that these are the people who will be there for me and support me.

My foundation, that was so lovingly built by my grandparents, my parents, my aunts and uncles allowed me to embrace who I truly am so that I could rise fully into my Self. They gave me the safety net I needed anytime I faced life challenges.

Our lives, like our asanas, require that we focus on our foundation. Like the trees in our forests that won’t grow and thrive without deep roots, we similarly need nurturing and care in order for our expansion and growth.

Whether our foundation comes from our ancestors, our chosen family, or the belief systems we’ve built, I don't think it matters. What matters is that we honor the groundwork that needs to be done in order for us to rise up stronger and more resilient.

The foundation beneath us will save us from crumbling anytime we fall. The brilliant essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he wrote, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising up every time we fail.”

My devoted 6 am yogi’s understand this and that’s why they set their alarm twice a week to get out of bed and make their way to their mats. As they unroll their yoga mats they know they are building their foundation so that they can better handle whatever life throws their way that week.

What would you do if you weren’t scared of failing (knowing your foundation is there to catch you)? How do you nurture your foundation so you feel rooted and grounded? Leave your comments below.

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