Ground Down to Lift Up
How often have you lifted your shoulders and stood on your tiptoes when reaching for a dish on the top shelf? How often have you observed a singer lifting their chin to reach for that high note? Those kinds of behaviors are all too common, and can really get in the way of our true alignment.
Try reaching up a wall – first reach as high as you can by straining and grasping, and notice how far you get. Then ground down through your heels and the same hip as the arm you are reaching with, and try again. I bet you can get a bit farther this way, and without straining any muscles or shortening your breath.
Now try going for that high note in your favorite song (after warming up first.) Notice how high you can get when raising your chin and reaching for it. Then ground through your heels, breathe low into your belly, keep your chin neutral, and allow the energy to naturally flow up through the crown of your head. I bet you can effortlessly “land on” that note from above now, rather than reaching up for it. Reaching causes strain, so I would caution against “doing the don’t” too much in this case. If you’re still having any challenges accessing your higher range, you may need some guidance from an experienced teacher.
Doing yoga asanas in general is grounding, but certain poses I find especially helpful. Downward Dog and Warrior I and II are great, coupled with Horse stance (pictured above.) In any standing pose, or when you stand and sing, connect with your foundation by spreading your toes, lifting the arches of the feet, and lengthen your low back. Imagine the tailbone growing down into the earth, like a third leg! Have fun grounding down and notice what new heights you achieve!