Yoga, Where to Begin
Maybe you already have a yoga practice, or maybe yoga is something that has interested you, but for whatever reason, you have not yet started a practice. It may seem overwhelming, especially when you are first starting. Knowing where to begin is key! So whether you are a novice or a complete newbie, Tadasana is a posture you really want to become familiar with, as it is the foundation for all of yoga asana (meaning “pose” in Sanskrit), and it will help you with all of the other postures…read on to learn more.
Tadasana, Breaking it Down
Tadasana, more commonly referred to as “Mountain” pose in English, is a standing posture, and as mentioned above, the foundational pose in yoga. Here are the steps to properly come into this posture:
1. Come to stand with your big toes together, with your heels slightly apart. Spread your toes as wide as you are able, lifting them up off of your mat or the floor, and placing them back down again. Do this several times. This engages what is referred to as “pada bandha”, which is an activation in the arches of your feet, and helps you to feel strong and rooted in this posture, really connected to the Earth through your feet. Really try to feel all four corners of your feet making contact with your mat or the floor.
2. Energetically keep your ankles moving in toward midline, not allowing them to puff out away from the body. Lift up on your knee caps and then internally rotate the thighs. All of this really helps to activate your legs, and the engagement makes you feel even stronger and more rooted in the posture.
3. Imagine your hip bones are pushing up against a wall in front of you, keeping your pelvis very neutral, with your hip bones square. Your tailbone will lengthen toward your heels.
4. Activate both mula bandha and uddiyana bandha. I will briefly explain both of these, but it is important to keep in mind that these take time to develop, and ideally should be practiced each day. I could likely do an entire blog post alone on just these two bandhas. To keep it simple, to engage mula bandha, which means “root lock”, squeeze your entire perineal region, bringing it inward and upward. To engage uddiyana bandha, meaning “upward lock”, engage your abdominals, bringing the belly button in and then up. While engaging these bandhas, keep your front ribs knitted in toward the body, not allowing the ribcage to splay.
5. Next, root your shoulderblades down the back toward the spine, not allowing the shoulders to come up toward the ears. The collarbones are broad (imagine them smiling). Align your ears over your shoulders, and lastly imagine the crown of your head is being pulled by an imaginary thread up toward the ceiling. The arms may be down along your sides with the palms facing away from the body, or you may bring them together to touch at the heart in Anjali mudra (when the hands are in this position, the pose is referred to as “Samasthihi” in Sanskrit or “pose of equanimity” or “pose of equal standing”).
A Few More Details
In a nutshell, that is Tadasana. This is best practiced every day, and it is a great pose to begin practicing if you are new to yoga, especially. A practice may be started with this pose, or it may be a “resting” posture that you return to mid-practice, and most definitely start with this before moving into any other standing asanas or Sun Salutations during a practice, so that you take a few moments to activate, engage, and align in this pose and are able to carry these with you through the rest of the asanas.
“Yoga does not ask you to be more than you are. But it does ask you to be all that you are.” -Bryan Kest
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