In Yoga Journal's online course, Yoga for Inner Peace, Colleen Saidman Yee—acclaimed yoga teacher, fashion model, and the wife of yogi Rodney Yee—offers 3 yogic practices a week for 12 weeks to transform your body, mind, and heart. Here, she explains the importance of getting in touch with your roots as part of your personal journey toward inner peace, and demonstrates standing poses that help you connect to the earth and everyone who came before you.
Never Forget Your Roots
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says that we are our ancestors—that our roots are our family, our home, our history, and everyone who came before us. Imagine, for a moment, all the beings directly related to you that lived before you were born. Even without a family tree, you can feel the lineage and impact of your gene pool. This intuitive feeling of our ancestry—and understanding of the interconnectedness of all things and all beings—gives us a sense of completeness. Conversely, the sages tell us that thinking that we are separate is what causes suffering, and robs us of our inner peace and joy.
I think about my mom and how sad she was to move away from her family in New York—she never really set up roots in Indiana. Our family moved because of my dad’s job, and my mom never felt like she truly belonged, even though she lived in Indiana from 1968 to 2012, when she took her last breath. She would even cry about how much she missed the trees in the yard of my childhood home in New York—a literal and figurative yearning for roots.
We all crave roots, and get thrown off course without them. Those roots can come from many sources—being in nature, family, friends, asana, meditation. At this point, I can stare at maple trees for a long time and they bring my mom back to me. I think I finally know how she felt. I also think of her when I practice Tree Pose.
Anatomically speaking, our feet are the roots of our body, and when we’re doing yoga poses, it’s through our feet that this relationship to the earth is fostered. When we viscerally know this connection, our illusion of separateness is dissolved, and a foundation for inner peace is cultivated. In Tree Pose, I feel joined to the earth, my mom, my breath, and my central channel. The following poses will get you into your feet and legs and give you a connection to the earth. A good set of standing poses creates a sense of stability. With this stability, you can walk on this beautiful earth with gratitude and feel a true connection to all.