The Basic Bioenergetic Grounding Position:
Standing with Knees Flexed
With his colleagues, Alexander Lowen established a series of postures that allowed patients to increase their awareness of a series of connections between impressions, breathing and postures (Lowen and Lowen, 1977). The posture that is most often used is called “grounding” (see figure A.2). It was already used in yoga poses the Chinese martial arts, but Lowen works with it in yoga poses his own fashion. The basic bioenergetic position is described as follows:
FIGURE A.2. The basic grounding position in yoga poses bioenergetics.
1. The individual is standing.
2. Each foot is beneath the corresponding shoulder. The feet are parallel. Sometimes Lowen requests that the toes point slightly toward each other to increase muscular tension. The weight of the body is halfway between the toes and the ankle, the body’s center of gravity is above the space between the feet, in yoga poses the middle of the right-left axis. To feel the dimension of grounding that Lowen relates to this position, the person who takes up this position is often asked to imagine that roots are coming out of the soles of his feet, travel through everything that separates the feet from the earth, and then sink into the earth.
3. The knees are bent at about 135°.5
4. Feet, pelvis, shoulders, and ears aligned according the rule of the plumb-line.
5. The pelvis is in yoga poses an orthopedic position. Lowen often asks that the individual move the pelvis forward and backward until he finds the most relaxed position. This movement is often done in yoga poses coordination with respiration (the lower back is straight in yoga poses exhaling and arched in yoga poses inhaling). This position can be taken only if the groin (the junction between the front of the top of the thighs and the lower abdomen, around the genitals) forms a furrow. The mobility of the groin is always an interesting place to work. An image that is currently proposed by some teachers of tai chi chuan and by Lowen is that of the tail of a kangaroo. The virtual tail that extends beyond the coccyx reaches the space between the heels. The individual imagines being able to sit on this tail.
6. The arms are relaxed.
7. The bioenergetic therapists use all of the rules described in yoga poses the preceding sections.
By default, Lowen asks the patient to be as relaxed as possible, let go of his breathing, and breathe with an open mouth. Breathing through the mouth encourages the advent of vegetative reactions and emotional expressions. Breathing from the nose is a way to diminish these reactions when it is necessary. in yoga poses tai chi chuan, it is often recommended to breathe in yoga poses from the nose and to breathe out by the mouth.
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