When I started this blog, I thought it would be fun to look at a variety of topics, ranging from history, philosophy, the Sanscrit language and the poses themselves. Since we are starting a new year and a new session in our classes, I thought we should start with some focus poses.
I am obtaining my asana information from a variety of sources: Yoga Journal, other blogs, personal practice and knowledge, and several books - some of which are listed at the side. Let’s start to look at the Primary Series as if we were just coming to our mats.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Strengthens legs, abdomen and glutes
Cautions (when to be mindful in a pose):
Low blood pressure
(photo from Yoga Journal.com)
Begin by rocking back and forth between the heels and balls of your feet, bringing equal balance between the two. Come to stillness and lift and spread the toes to create a natural arch in the foot. Gently release them back to your mat. Your feet can be touching or 3-5 inches apart if still working on balance or if you have leg, knee or foot issues. For some it is more comfortable to stand with the knuckle of the big toes and the outside of the big toes touching with 1-2 inches between the heels.
Bring awareness to your knees by gently lifting up on the knee caps, and lightly engage the thigh muscles. Do not lock the knees. If you are prone to hyper-extension, put a slight bend in the knees. This will seem awkward initially but have long term positive benefits for your joints.
Move your awareness to your hips by gently tilting the pelvis forward. This engages the lower abdomen (uddiyana bandha or abdomen lock) and lifts the rib cage. In the Ashtanga practice, we begin to engage mula bandha (or root lock) here as well, lifting and holding the pelvic floor (see previous posts for definitions or click on the "terminology" link below).
Broaden the front of the chest, lifting the sternum while rolling the shoulder blades down the spine while moving the shoulders away from the ears. Arms and hands are active beside your hips, but not military rigid. Chin remains parallel to the floor and the gaze is straight ahead. In our Ashtanga practice, we begin to move more fully into the ujjayi breath, bringing our attention to the bandhas and breath-as-mantra.
Next Focus Pose: Sun Salutation A