Yoga, Ayurveda and acro yoga in Budapest - classes, philosophy also in English

2010. október 11., hétfő

Asana focus No.1. Tadasana

I have a new idea, weekly I include a little surprise in the blog. Week after week, I will go through the basic asanas, giving hints for the practice and introversion. I hope they will prove to be useful and you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing about it.

1. Week: Tadasana

I think this is a very hard asana. Many says that shavasana is the hardest pose, but then I am sure that tadasana is the next one in the row. You will see in a second why. In sanskrit the name is Tadasana or Samasthiti. ’Tada’ means mountain, ’sama’ equals to straight, upright, unmoved, and ’stithi’ stands for standing still, steadiness (source: B.K. S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga).

Ok, so in this pose we are standing still as a mountain, with poise and elegance. You may instantly understand how hard this is for the modern stressed out man. Just look at the people waiting for each other. No one ever stands still. Surely, they need to fidget or at least to walk around, or to balance on one leg and then on the other. If we need to stand without moving it feels immediately uncomfortable, it feels like a limitation, and only some external disciplinary force can push us to do so. Like a school ceremony, an official event at work or when we are standing for example in the church with no seats available. We don’t like this posture and we are prone to rebel against it in our body and our mind.

I remember very well, how much I used to faint when I was a kid. But this is somewhere a normal reaction, since when you are standing still, slowly the blood will flow into your legs and your head might easily become light and dizzy. Our breathing may turn shallow, especially if we are surrounded by many in a crowd, and everything might go dark in a second. This is our bodily reaction to this disciplined position. And if I am aware that fainting might happen, then of course I will avoid standing still whenever possible. Another reaction might be that of the mind which says that since we are not used to stillness, we must fidget. We cannot handle discipline.

Well, after all, it is clear why tadasana is such a challenge. People come to the yoga class after a hard day and then I tell them to stand, tadasana, and hold it. They will hate it, although they need this, they don’t even know how much. Because tadasana can be a very meditative pose and in the meantime it works on the muscles too, if done properly.

A couple of suggestions. Push the center of your heal firmly into the ground, then lift the toes off of the floor and expand them. This is a wonderful Iyengar technique, for due to this little movement the kneecap will naturally pull upwards and the bones of the leg and the thigh will be aligned and stacked, the pelvis will slightly tilt to the front and the abdominal muscles will contract automatically. This is how you build up your pose from the base. Like the mountain is placed on its foundation. And all this will naturally lead to the correct alignment of the upper body. You can also aid the whole process by controlling your breath.

Start: Feet together, hands in front of the chest pressing each other in Namaste, or by the side of the body.
Inhale: I push into the heels, lift the toes off of the floor and expand them.
Exhale: pull in and up the belly muscles, feel your diapraghm moving upwards
Inhale: hold the abdominal muscles contracted
Exhale: pull the ribcage together
Inhale: lift the chest up
Exhale: shoulders back and down
Inhale: reach to the sky through the top of the head
Exhale: close the eyes, place the toes back on the mat but keep them stretched out

Help yourself with visualization. First, still with the eyes closed repeat mentally the previous steps. See yourself from the heels to the top of the head and see the process again, how did you get into this perfect position. Then look at the little movements still present in the body. Breathe into those trembling, jumping little areas and calm yourself. Finally, bring your focus to the middle of your chest and see your breathing there. Remain in the pose for at least 2 minutes.

If you practice like this, you will feel the muscles of your body working. Yet they need to keep you in balance and resist gravity, so the muscles of the leg, the abdominal, back and arm muscles will continue working hard. If you can relax in the same time, I mean if while maintaining the isometric position, the constant contraction of the muscles, you manage to eliminate the little distracting movements, you will slowly start feeling the power of your body.

If you stand like this, you don’t need to be afraid of fainting, or that your blood pressure will drop, since the leg muscles are contracted, they are pushing the blood up towards your head, the abdomen is engaged, your whole system is like a huge pump, pushing the blood upwards. Building up from your foundation the energy gets focussed in the brain and your head will become the peak of the imaginary mountain.
Meanwhile you could use the following mental affirmation: „ I am stable.”

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