Three years ago…a five year old Grounded Kid said her favorite pose was “Flat Like a Pancake”. It was actually not an official pose, but rather a transitional phrase from Gratitude pose to Snake pose. To honor the wisdom and innocence of this child, we decided to make “Flat Like a Pancake” a pose that’s part of the Grounded Elevator Series. Read on to see how to griddle some pancakes the “Grounded” way.
When cooking pancakes keep this in mind:
Each pancake needs their own space on the griddle.
If one pancake is not squeezing their legs or firing up their hearts, it will affect the whole batch.
When the pancakes breathe together, the results are more delightful.
Groundwork: From Gratitude pose, exhale as you pour yourself down onto your belly. Fill up with breath and bring fluffiness into your short stack. Keep your hands actively clawing the griddle in line with your chest. Squeeze your legs together for the fluffiest and lightest pancake possible. Inhale, draw your leg muscles up toward your center as you lift your arm bones toward the sky. Exhale, root your tailbone down until your belly lifts in and up. Reach your chest forward and make a silly face.
Like pancakes hot off the griddle, continue to fire up all your muscles, creating enough heat to allow your heart to melt just like real butter on your favorite pancake! When you breathe into your back body and puff it up with bubbles, you are ready to FLIP!
Can you stay big and light and fluffy and together and Flip over? Did your belly get lumpy? Did you fall apart?
You don’t want to be dense and bland or runny and gooey. Find the balance. Keep your edges strong and crisp, and breathe evenly so you cook all the way through.
If your pancake is runny:
1st check hands. Concentrate on All finger pads and knuckles. They must ground into the earth. Stabilize your forearm until they feel solid. Focus on keeping your arm bones up. For best results, gather heat from your palms all the way to the back of your heart. Settle your shoulder blades in toward your heart. Stay connected to your hands, arms and legs. Squeeze your legs until you feel cohesive. Allow any excess tension to drain off into the griddle.
If your pancake is dense and bland: Receive your breath. Breath deeper. Soften your eyes and throat and skin more. Possibly separate legs hip distance apart. Can you make this pancake new?
If your pancake is thick and sticking to the pan: Follow your breath. Breathe more fully into your back body so your front ribs will move back. Keep the fluffiness and melt your heart. Flow your inner thighs down to the griddle. Express your emotions. Make a smiley face or silly face.
If the belly of your short stack is lumpy: Fire up your legs, lengthen your tailbone and scoop it more fully. Notice how your breath gets more expansive and you gather more length from hips to armpits.
If your pancake is burnt: Slow your breath and movement down and really pay attention to where you are.
If your smell doesn’t cause others to exclaim “Hey what’s cookin?” Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
Be aware of extra ingredients in your personal batter. You want sweetness, like chocolate or berries. Even some nuttiness will add excitement to your short stack. Stay clear of anything bitter, sour or hard.
Shine out from your center so much like the golden hot cake you were born to be. Allow Real Syrup or Butter to melt your heart.
Enjoy your thin layer of sweet crust and from deep inside, radiate your light, fluffy, beautiful warmth.
If you’re grounded and you know it, are you happy? Wait, that’s not the song! We know how it goes – sing along! “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it then your face will really show it. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!”
Oh if only it were still that simple; being three years old, clapping your hands and squealing in delight! Those childish squeals, though piercing and impulsive, are actually a level of grounded that we adults seldom revisit. It’s that place of stopping to absorb the sense of being overcome with simple joy. Have you ever watched a toddler eat a lollipop for the first time? They are fully immersed in that moment of a new smell, taste, texture and color. The world around stops spinning so fast. The tot becomes quiet and focused on this one small delicious treat. Suddenly there is nowhere to be except right in that place exploring the new taste of blue raspberry without worry that a raspberry isn’t actually blue or sticky. That’s the grounded I’m talking about. Stopping. Looking. Wondering. Smelling. Tasting. Touching. Delighting! Somewhere along the course of toddler to teen to thirty-something, we lose that sense of simple joyous discovery and decide that having to stop means sacrificing happiness.
But how can being grounded make you happy, particularly if you are 16? Seems we are always seeking happiness with the go-do-have mentality. Let’s ‘go’ to another concert. I’m planning to ‘do’ the Peachtree Road Race. Can’t wait until I ‘have’ those new boots. So really the next verse could translate to “If you’re happy and you know it, buy new boots! If you’re happy and you know then your feet will really show it. If you’re happy and you know it, buy new boots!” No, no, no. We know that’s not the way it works. So what does being grounded mean, if not to lose all “happiness” associated with texting, Facebook, borrowing the car and shopping?
I have a yoga teacher who often suggests we imagine we’ve just been given this new body. Too old to give it go? I think not! Start with Solid Ground Flow. There you are: babies, dark seeds unaware of the light surrounding us. Security. And then we begin to get a little crowded. Let me just stretch out a bit. Wait. What’s that? A leg? Two of them! How do they hold us up? How are they connected? What makes them move? Explore the movement of these new legs. Where can they take me? What’s this flat thing attached to the bottom of each one? Curiosity. And being curious – well that’s YOGA. Oh, wait! Those flat things help me to stand! Well check this out! I am taller now, upright, a strong sturdy mountain. Suddenly there is so much more to look at! Discovery! Now fold forward and look back down at where you started. Geez. How’d everything get upside down? Perspective! What if I lifted up just a little…like a half lift… lengthened my spine and stared straight into the face of what’s in front of me? Courage! One leg back now, one leg forward; a straight leg lunge into possibility. I can do this! Empowerment! Both legs now- plank– I’m stronger than I thought! Straight lines of energy, nothing standing in my way! Stick my tongue out and roar! Share my voice. Confidence! LAUGHTER! Now this is a good feeling. Let me take a moment to thank this new body of mine, and the ground below supporting all of this – gently though, one knee-chest and chin at a time. Gratitude! Open the heart now into snake, fill up with joy and take in what is there. Radiate light from my center and share it with others! Compassion! Look back again for a moment in Down Dog. Rest there. Look how far I’ve come and how I was helped along the way. Deep breath. Surrender. Now, one step forward, straight leg lunge, firmly rooted back. Perseverance. And lifting halfway up to stare once again into what lies ahead. Hope. Forward Fold, did I do it? Am I ready for more? Can I continue moving through the hours of days, months of years, the circle of this life? YES! I can! Inhale and rise up, reach for sky and sing out from the top of this tall mountain. ELEVATION!
That’s what being grounded is all about. It’s not losing something or stopping completely. It’s not going or doing or getting. It’s about slowing down to notice how the world works and how we work within it. When we set our clocks back just enough to explore the sheer delight of simplicity, we are grounded and happy! So if you’re grounded and you know it, downward dog! If you’re grounded and you know it, flat like a pancake! If you’re grounded and you know it, laughter milkshake! And if you’re grounded and you know it, for goodness sake, NO WHINING! If you’re grounded and you know it then your life will really show it. If you’re grounded and you know it, Namaste.
So there you have it. Be Grounded. Feel Happy. Explore Yoga. Seek Laughter. Notice your own Elevation….and every once in awhile – get those new boots.