Even fluffy things can improve their practice with these simple tips.
There is one asana (yoga posture) that contains all principles you need to practice all of the asana of yoga.
If you understand and apply them in this posture, the rest of the asana will seem much easier. Of course some require a certain amount of strength and flexibility, and this is really easy to attain. You just need to practice every day.
The pose? tadasana, or moutain pose.
That’s right, the standing asana that you often practice at the beginning of class. Oh, you thought you were supposed to just stand there?
Well, it depends on whether you are a beginner or not. In the beginning, standing on the mat is an accomplishment. Then, over time, you’ll start to look at how you are standing.
Why is how we stand so important?
If we stand correctly, we open the energy pathways of our body, and reap the same benefits as we would from any yoga pose.
When the asana is this simple, we have a better chance to become aware of how we hold our body, and correct its alignment. Breathing, combined with aligning our posture correctly, enhances the energy, also known as prana or qi, that we generate within our body. Prana heals our body, and maintains its healthful vitality.
When you improve your alignment in a simple asana like tadasana, you can start to look for the same principles of alignment in more complex asana. And so goes your yoga practice.
Now it’s time to introduce you to a very good friend of mine, Domo, who is a model beginner yoga student.
Contrary to internet rumors, Domo is a familiar face in the country towns of my nation, though he prefers the company of his friends in our surrounding fields.
Recently Domo has taken up the practice of yoga, and has offered to show us his tadasana. He wants to learn how to practice it better.
Lets get started:
Courtesy of Domofan, via Wikimedia Commons
First look at how Domo stands in tadasana. His feet are parallel, and his arms are by his side. Great. However we can see a few blind spots of which he might not be aware.
Notice how he holds a little bit of tension in his face. When he becomes more aware of it, he will feel more sensitive to his body.
He seems to lack awareness of his arms. There is not much energy flowing through there.
But he is standing up straight and he’s concentrating, which is great.
Standing in tadasana:
Feet: Place your big toes together, separate your heals a little. Your second toe wants to point straight ahead. Lift your toes and spread them wide. Place them down again with no tension or weight upon them.
Imagine your feet (minus the toes) as rectangles. Push all four corners of each rectangle down into the earth. This will naturally lift the arch and inner thigh muscles.
Legs: Lift your knee caps to tighten your thighs; that’s all for now. This isn’t an Iyengar class.
Spine: Tuck your tailbone gently underneath your body. Straighten your spine upwards and try to lift the crown of the head towards the ceiling.
Shoulders and arms: Drop your shoulders down and spread the shoulder blades wide, moving them away from each other. Extend your arms down; reach your fingertips towards the ground.
Head: Tuck your chin in, so that it moves back towards your throat. Relax the face.
Chest: Lift your heart towards the ceiling.
Solar Plexus: That’s the stomach area. Draw it in toward the spine.
As you breathe, feel your breath expand the front, sides and back of your torso.
Think of each asana in terms of axis’.
The key to practicing a yoga pose successfully is to apply all of the axis’ all of the time.
Remember this summary:
Fingertips extend away from your shoulders.
Spine straight. Lift the head to the ceiling, and tailbone under.
In yoga, what is often behind us is forgotten. This includes breathing into the back parts of our torso. Some say that the back parts of our body represent our unconscious mind; the front, the conscious mind. Oooh. Domo says that’s deep.
Domo is happy. He will take these simple guidelines to his next practice. Relax that face Domo, and extend those arms.
I love that, um, fuzzy thing.
Chantelle is an Australian living in Rio de Janeiro. She writes for her blog www.yogaleaks.com. For the past two and a half decades Chantelle has studied meditation, yoga, martial arts, dozens of healing modalities, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, as well as Tao, Buddhist and Hindu philosophy.
She is a practicing Kriyaban, which is a yogi who practices Kriya yoga. Chantelle has worked with health retreats and spa destinations, in their management, design and realization. She loves to create other-world, or better-world experiences. Hence the concept of her blog, which explores a “better” nation in which we can all live for a few minutes each week.
Chantelle has traveled extensively and worked in many idyllic locations around the world. Her passion is in the written word, vibrantly sharing her knowledge about endless facets of health and living.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas
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