Sacred Geometry: Utthita Trikonasana, Triangle Pose
Utthita Trikonasana (extended triangle pose) is a foundational yoga posture that engages, stretches and strengthens the entire body.
There is a sacred geometry inherent in all yoga asana. Placing the body mindfully and with proper alignment into yoga asanas activates the energy meridians in the body thereby increasing the flow of Prana (vital life force) throughout our bodies.
In Trikonasana, as in all standing poses, the foundation is in the connection the feet make with the earth and the energetic activations of the muscles in the legs. It is an excellent posture to build strength in the legs, core and back. The intense lateral side stretch and opening of the chest also aid in developing deep breathing.
Often when students new to yoga (and old, for that matter) move into Trikonasana they mistakenly focus their attention on getting the hand down to the floor. This is TOTALLY unnecessary. The hand may never reach the floor, and it if reaches it only by shortening the side waist on the extended side, collapsing the chest forward, or over straining the legs (sometimes all three!) then the sacred architecture and the great benefits of the posture are lost. What is more, serious injury may occur. Keep the hand as high up on the leg as necessary to keep the integrity of the pose (never press on the knee), or use a block as an excellent prop to assist in the pose.
Enjoy making yourself into a glorious extended triangle! Jai Bhagwan!
HOW TO DO IT:
This is very good clear instruction for Utthita Trikonasana (extended triangle pose), given by John Schumacher, a senior Iyengar Yoga teacher and director of Unity Woods Yoga, in Washington, D.C.
AND FOR FUN:
This is just TOO cute and clever, and quite good instruction, except for the hyper-extended knee:-)
Asanas at the Kitchen Sink
So, one thing I have done in my own life that I would suggest, is to look for opportunities for practice in the activities of your daily life. The "have tos", like washing the dishes, doing the laundry, picking up a child, sitting at your desk, are all opportunities to bring Yoga's principles of strength, balance and focus into practice in your daily life. Yoga is all about mindfulness, so when we bring awareness into our actions and movements, moment to moment, we are "practicing," and expressing yoga, in the very fullest sense.
Here are some examples from my daily life, that you can bring into yours:
Tadasana at the kitchen sink: while you are standing and doing the dishes, notice your body position. What are your feet doing? How are your shoulders articulated? Where your pelvis? Press your feet firmly into the ground so that you can feel all four sides of your feet making contact with the earth. Take a deep breath as you do this, and feel the rest of your body rise up out of the firm base. Continue to elongate though your crown chakra (top of your head). Notice also your feelings about this activity. Do you feel rushed? Irritated? Acknowledge however you feel, and then, if your feelings are hurried or negative, see if you can bring them in a more positive direction with mindfulness. Just do what you are doing. Just do the dishes. And savor every minute detail of this activity.
Uttanasana and hair dryer: ...no, seriously...you'll love this one. Most women (and some men) that dry their hair with a hair dryer lean into a forward bend so their hair will hang down and they can dry underneath. This is a great time for uttanasana (standing forward bend!) Again, begin building your posture from the ground up: press your feet into the ground, feel all four sides of your foot; feel the energy move up from the earth into the legs, and create a circular inward rotation of the thigh bones to make more space in the sacrum. Take care how you move in this posture as you are drying your hair, bend the knees a little or don't come forward so far if the movement and weight of the dryer make this posture awkward and straining for your back. Let your back stay long and light.
Sukhasana wherever you sit: any where you sit, and whether you sit cross-legged, as in the posture sukhasana (easy pose), or with the feet on the floor as you sit in the chair, you still need to employ the same basic postural elements. The next time you are sitting in your chair at work come forward on the seat a bit so that your feet are flat on the floor and you can feel your sitz bones firmly against the seat. In the sitting position your sitz bones are your base, so press them firmly against the seat, as you would push your feet firmly against the floor. Notice how this immediately causes your torso to lengthen, your shoulders to drop and your neck to elongate. This will give you the same open line of energy from the base of your spine, through the crown of your head, and the same openness in the rib cage for breath to move, that we cultivate in all the sitting asanas.
There is no substitute for cultivating a vigorous, and focused Yoga practice in our lives, but bringing our awareness of how the postural components of Yoga asanas translate into the everyday movements of our lives, can add a whole new dimension to our practice.
Key Principles of Revolved Triangle from Susi Hately Aldous
The following came to me via Susi Hately Aldous' I Love Anatomy: Anatomy and Asana Newsletter. Susi is a yoga teacher, anatomy expert and owner of Functional Synergy.
Susi's book, Anatomy and Asana: Preventing Yoga Injuries, is required reading in the Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training, and is one of my favorite anatomy books. It is well-written, clear, and accessible both to the professional, and the student of yoga.
An example of Susi's clear style can be read below in her excellent discription of the proper approach and mechanics neccesary to do revolved triangle pose (parivrtta trikonasana) safetly.
In order for Revolved Triangle to occur safely and smoothly, a few things need to happen.
1. There needs to be balance of the legs on the pelvis. As the twist occurs, the legs and feet can’t collapse on each other. If they do, the twist also collapses, and strain can enter into the neck, shoulder girdle, or back.
2. Although much of the initial twist is meant to occur around the base of the thoracic spine, the muscular engine of the twist is at the obliques. Because of the structure of the facet joints, the lumbar spine doesn’t have much of a bandwidth for twisting. The base of the thoracic spine however, does. The obliques, with their attachments at the ribs and the pelvis, help to gently drive that movement. Allow yourself to feel that oblique movement (or lack thereof).
3. The cervical spine (neck) twists only after the spine below has found its position. As many teachers know, students often move the neck too soon and too far. Feel the rotation in the torso below before moving the neck.
4. The shoulder girdle follows the spinal rotation. Sometimes this happens in reverse and the student gets into over-leveraging (a very easy mistake to make). Let's look at an example with your right leg in front. If your right leg is in front and you are twisting to the right, you may be inclined to have your left hand move to your right leg to . . . jusssst . . . squeeeeze a bit morrrrre . . . twwwist . . . out of the pose. In this example, the left hand and arm are driving the twist as opposed to the spine leading the twist and the shoulder girdle following with the support of the left arm and hand. It is something that I often see in students who really want "to feel SOMETHING" in this pose. Small note: I am not against leverage, but if it happens before the lower thoracic spine has been connected to the obliques and pelvis, then leverage can be downright dangerous.
I think Revolved Triangle can freak people out in a similar way to back bends. You can’t really see where you are going, and you are relying on your legs and your pelvis to be stable while the spine moves.
Nonetheless, Revolved Triangle can be truly remarkable, as many participants in the workshops can attest. If you would like to dig down a bit more, I have a Revolved Triangle teleclass ready to download. In this recording I speak more about the shoulder girdle and hip mechanics as well as the nature of the twist. Just click, here.
Seven Ways to Sooth Sore Yoga Muscles
In the meanwhile, it important that we develop a "gift bag" of sorts. A set of things we know will help to nurture and support the recovery and growth of our body. Here are my Seven Ways to Sooth Sore Yoga Muscles:
1. Take a word from the master, and take it easy.
The yogic sage Patanjali tells us in the Yoga Sutras, Sthira Sukham Asanam (the posture should be strong/steady and light/comfortable.) So, first and foremost, we most always begin by practicing with kindness and ahimsa (non-harming) towards ourselves. As the adage goes, "an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure!"
2. Be constructive...rest.
If you suffer an injury the first thing you must do is make room for yourself to heal. This means making time to heal, and this is a hard one for those of us in Western societies to grasp. Our credos tell us, "No Pain, No Gain," and so we are conditioned to push through, thus injuring ourselves further. The human body has miraculous healing abilities, but it needs constructive rest in order to accomplish this, so don't be afraid to take the time to let yourself heal, and learn to rest when you are becoming fatigued, so that you can avoid injuries in the first place.
3. RICE...it's not just for dinner anymore.
If you have ever taken a basic first aid course, you know this acronym well: Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.
R = REST: see number two! Love your body, let it heal.
I = ICE: ice is the MOST amazing healer I have ever come across. You really can't go wrong with ice, and it is especially critical to use it the first 24 hours after an injury. Often we tend to lean towards heat because it seems more soothing, but you can get yourself into a bit of trouble with heat, it can actually add to inflammation. Use ice packs on the injured area, ten minutes on, ten minutes off, for the first 24 hours. After that you can alternate ten minutes of ice, with ten minutes of heat. This alternating technique, and the application of ice alone, both help to reduce swelling and flush the area with new blood which promotes healing.
C = Compress: Compression helps to reduce swelling, pain and provides support. The most common method of compression is to wrap the site lightly in an ACE bandage. If you feel throbbing, or see discoloration, the bandage is inhibiting circulation and needs to be removed and re wrapped more loosely.
E = Elevate: Elevation also helps to reduce swelling. Elevation is most effective if you can raise the area above the heart. You can use pillows or bolsters to aid in elevation.
4. Drink lots of water.
This one is pretty simple. I hydrated body, is a healing body. If your cells and tissues are not well hydrated it makes it very difficult for them to heal. Drink lots of pure filtered water, and seek out pure vegetable and fruit juices (juice them yourself if you can!), as these will add heaps of vital nutrients to your system in an easily digested and assimilated form.
5. Massage and Bodywork
Touch is a great healer. There is a type of body work out there appropriate for every injury. Find an experience chiropractor, massage therapist, Reiki master, Positional Therapist, or other professional in a healing modality NOW, before you are injured. Put the names and numbers of these people in your "gift bag" so you are ready to take care of yourself if you have an injury. It can be challenging to have the energy to seek help, when you need it the most.
6. Create a care bag.
Create a literal "gift bag" of healing tools. Here are a few I keep in mine:
Muscle Treat: this massage lineament from one of my favorite companies, Heritage Products, contains: Light Petroleum Oil, Mineral Oil, Olive Oil, Witch Hazel, Tincture of Benzoin and Sassafras Oil; which come together to provide and oil that goes on smoothly and soaks into the skin quickly. I use it twice a day over an injured site and find it helps significantly reduce pain, swelling and even bruising. Another thing I like about this lineament is that it has very little scent, just the fragrance of the natural oils, and like all of this company's products, all of the oils are of extremely pure and high grade. It is also suppose to be very good for use on varicose and spider veins (pat on gently, don't rub.) Benzoin oil is well known for its ability to strengthen and heal skin.
Microwave Heating Pads: I have several of these in different shapes and sizes and they are terrific for applying heat once the site is ready for that treatment. I also use them after an injury has reached the point where I am ready to slowly move back into practice. I apply the heat packs before my yoga sadhana to warm the soft tissues, making them more pliable and ready for the stretching elements of asana.
Leg Warmers: Don't laugh! I am so serious! I have a couple of pairs of legwarmers and I find them so useful. I put them on toward the end of my practice, or when I am teaching a class, before sivasana so that my legs will retain the heat of practice and the muscles won' be shocked by cold air (especially in the Winter when I am going out to a cold car.) The tighter variety can actually do double duty by providing a little bit of compression and support. Try them out and you will see why dancers swear by them.
Healing Meditations: visualization is one of the most powerful healing tools we have available to us. The healing power of our minds is unlimited when use it to tap into our spirits and the prana which permeates us. Try lying down in a comfortable place with a blanket over you, and an eye pillow or small towel covering your eyes to encourage pratyahara, or sense withdrawal. Visualize your body healing on a gross and subtle level. Imagine it right down to the very cellular structures of your body. See yourself as already well; radiantly health and whole.
If you need help getting started with this sort of meditation, try my Progressive Relaxation Meditation, or my Sivasana Meditation. Both are available as audio downloads, for only $2.95, from yogadownload.com.
7. Return to activity slowly and with intelligence.
When we return to activity after an injury it is natural to want to jump right back in, and pick up from where we left off. Unfortunately, this is not right mindedness on our part. If you have been laid up with an injury for 6 weeks, it will take at least that length of time to get back to your pre-injury level of practice; it may take double the amount of time you have been on constructive rest, or longer. This is a time for the utmost practice of patience and compassion towards ourselves. Take your time, go slow, remember the words of Sri Patabhi Jois, "Practice, practice, all is coming." You will beyond where you left off in your practice in no time if you proceed in this way.
May your lives be filled with radiant health, May you honor your body, mind and spirit with lovingkindness and compassion.
Keeping It Positive
In business, as in the rest of life, it can be a challenge to keep things positive. Present global economic woes are making for some highly tense office environments, but they also present an opportunity to bring our yoga "off the mat", and into our daily lives.
Yoga can provide not only a personal refuge from these pressures, but an opportunity to calm down, refocus and re-enter the group with positive energy and patience. Imagine bringing a spirit of peace and healing to your environment, rather then adding to the discord and din.
Go to your office, or even a stall in the bathroom, or step outside, anywhere you can be alone for a few minutes and withdraw from the energy of your office. Take a few deep breaths and follow your inhale and exhale. On the inhale say, "I breath in peace", on the exhale say, "I breathe out all tension." Before you return to your office group say to yourself this simple Metta meditation of lovingkindness..."May all beings be happy, May all beings be free from all suffering."
It is amazing how much a simple break can help us calm down, and regain perspective.
Let me know how you bring your yoga off the mat, and into the world.
If you are looking for more ways to bring the positive back to your office or business check out the blog Emergence Business Coaching written by business coach and writer, Charrise. She has great advice and resources for building business for success, with heart and positive energy.
Rise and Shine with Sun Breath
Rise and Shine!!!
It's morning, and a new day full of possibilites is before you. Wake up your brain, raise your prana, and get ready for a beautiful day with this seated variation of Sun Breath.
1. Sit in Sukhasana (simple cross-legged pose), or Lotus Pose.
2. Start with your hands by your hips, palms turned out. Inhale and sweep the arms overhead – reach out through your finger tips as if your arms are the rays of the sun – keep stretching upwards to the sky, and bring the palms together over your head. Exhale.
3. Keeping your arms raised, look up at the sky, lift your heart to the heat and light of the sun – inhale the prana of our ancient sun – feel this new expansion in the chest. Turn the palms out, reach through the finger tips and exhale the arms down.
4. Repeat on the next inhale, and use the mantra:
Breathing out, I give the light of the sun to our world.
5. Repeat at least 3 times.
Namaste, and may you have a radiant day!
Go out and shine!
A Little Morning Yoga Practice
But you don't need a lot of space, or a spectacular vista for a morning practice; and you don't need an hour and a half. All you need is a yoga mat or a towel, a quiet spot, and 10 or 15 minutes. The key is consistency; commit to doing a short sadhana every morning for 40 days and you will be amazed at the changes that occur in all areas of your life.
Here is a short sequence for you to try:
Sukhasana (easy pose): Sit with your legs crossed (you do not need to bring one leg up into half-lotus as in the picture, you can just cross the shins) and follow your breath for a few minutes. As you inhale say, "I am breathing in," as you exhale say, "I am breathing out." This will help you to stay focused on the breath. Make your inhales slow and deep, letting your belly swell like a balloon; pay special attention to the exhale, making it longer and slower with each breath. The longer the exhale, the more relaxed your body will become. This sort of breathing awakes and freshens the body, but it also quiets the nervous system and helps to lower stress hormone levels, like adrenaline and cortisol.
Table-top pose: Come onto your hands and knees. Press your palms into the floor, and gently do the same with your knees and lower leg. As you inhale, look up and arch the back so that the tail bone reaches toward the sky (dog stretch); on the exhale, look down at your knees and tuck your tail bone under so that your back arches up in the other direction (cat pose). Repeat this linking of movement with breath ten times. This will gently wake up your spine.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog): From table-top pose, turn your toes under, press through your palms as you begin to straighten your arms and legs. Keep a little bend in the legs a first, and you can keep it the whole time if straightening the legs bothers your hamstrings or knees. Never lock the knees back. Remember that as you are pressing down, the energy is also rising back up into you from the ground; do not sink into your joints. Completely release and surrender the head between the arms so it moves towards the floor. The arm pits hollow, and the inner heals move toward the floor. You are now in Downward Dog, and should look something like an upside down 'V'. Remember everyones posture will be different. Stay here for three deep breaths. If the posture is too difficult, bend your knees more, and shorten the number of breaths. This posture is an inversion and nourishes the brain with fresh blood and oxygen. It also helps to relieve depression and balance hormones.
Ustrasana (camel pose): Come down to sitting on the heels and take a few breaths. Then come up to standing on the knees for Ustrasana. Inhale and place the hands on the lower back as you lift the heart to the sky. Really, lift the heart strongly, and lift out of the lower back and you will not feel compression or strain in your lower back. Arch back slowly as if you are going up and over a ball, and only as far as you can without feeling strain in the back. You can keep the hands on the lower back, or bring them down to the heels if you are very strong and flexible. DO NOT push yourself. Be kind to your body and let the pose unfold bit, by bit. You can drop the head back for more extension; if that hurts your neck, bring the chin downwards the chest a little. This pose increases flexibility and strength of the neck and spine, and aids with digestion.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (half spinal twist): Carefully come back to sitting on the heels. Lean your left hip to the ground, bend your left knee and bring your left heel toward your right buttock. Adjust yourself so that both sit bones are on the floor (the right one is going to lift slightly, but try to keep the energy moving it downward). Cross the right foot over your left bent knee and place it down on the outside of your thigh. Place your left finger tips behind you on the ground. Inhale your right arm up and lengthen through your torso as you keep the hips moving down. Twist to the left and bring the right arm to the outside of the left knee (this will give you a little leverage.) On you next inhale move a little further into the twist, and deepen even more on the exhale. Stay here for 3 breaths and repeat on the other side. Twist are extremely detoxifying. The ring out the major organs of the body, and assist in digestion and elimination.
Sivasana (corpse pose): (NOTE: You may want a blanket if you are going to lie in sivasana pose for a while as you make get a little chilly.) Slowly come out of the twist and gently move down to the ground so that your are lieing comfortably on your back. Your feet should be about 6 inches apart with toes flopped out to the side, and the arms should be about 4 inches away from the body. Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Lie here for at least 3 minutes (10-15 is better) and do nothing but breathe. Sivasana is a critical posture in yoga. It gives the body, mind and spirit time to integrate, relax and restore.
I hope that you will give yoga a try, even beginning with 5 minutes of breathing a day.The benefits will amaze you. You can learn more about the important components of a yoga class, here.
May you be full of peace. May your body be healthy and strong.
The illustrations used above are © and licensed from the Iyengar Institute of San Francsico.
Yoga master, 90 next month, says discipline makes him feel one-fifth his age
This is a beautiful and inspirational story about yoga and the positive impact in can make on our lives. This guy is my hero! I'm telling you, if we all did one hour of pranayama each day we would live in radiant health forever.
I was also excited to see that this gentleman did some of his studies with Swami Kripalu, who is the head of the Kripalu Yoga lineage that I teach. They were both from Gujarat, India.
Make sure you watch the slide show! To view it go to the original article by DAVID CASSTEVENS, here.
ARLINGTON — He spoke as if he were seated on an examining table, talking with his doctor.
"I am feeling very goood," he declared.
"No headache. No fever. Never."
Problem with medications?
Kantilal Talati smiled. "No med-i-ca-tion."
The polite, gracious man from India, who turns 90 next month, summarized his well-being in economical English. "I never fall sick. Due to yoga only."
Arpita Shah’s grandfather knelt on the living room carpet of an Arlington home where he has lived with his daughter and son-in-law since leaving Bombay, India, last summer. Limber as an Olympic gymnast, Talati curled his 5-foot, 125-pound frame into a tight ball, and using his head for balance, slowly raised both legs overhead until his inverted body punctuated the accomplishment, forming an exclamation point.
Then Talati lowered his bare feet, turning the soles inward until they met in a posture of prayer.
As he maintained the headstand — the king of yoga poses — his family watched with respect and admiration.
Talati performs a variety of positions — asanas — as part of his disciplined daily yoga schedule.
"Never do I lapse," he said proudly.
Yoga, an ancient Hindu practice, is aimed at achieving a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. Postures and breathing techniques induce relaxation.
Talati devotes one hour every morning to pranayam (breathing exercises), followed by an hour of yoga.
After breakfast he gives yoga lessons to his hosts.
In the afternoon he does another session alone, performing more challenging yoga poses and movements that massage internal organs, enhance blood circulation and act on the joints, increasing strength and flexibility.
According to a yoga philosophy, it’s not the number of years that determines a person’s age but rather the suppleness of the spine.
Talati credits his 30-year regimen for his good health and longevity.
"I am very young now," Talati said. "If someone asks me 'How old are you?’ I always say, 'I am 18 years!’"
Amused by his own statement, the man born Oct. 25, 1918, broke into a high-pitched staccato laugh..
"My grandfather," said Arpita Shah, a 33-year-old nutritionist, "is my hero."
Crisis spurs change
A native of Bharuch, a seaside city in the state of Gujarat in western India, Talati worked as a project developer for the government-operated Western Railway. As a young man he smoked heavily.
"Four packs a day," he said.
"What!" his granddaughter said in disbelief at this revelation.
After Talati suffered a heart attack at age 44, he made a commitment to dramatically change his lifestyle. He learned relaxation and meditation techniques, and yoga poses from famed guru Acharya Swami Krupalvaanandji and, after he retired, began teaching the discipline at schools, temples and public gardens.
Talati is registered with the Yoga Alliance to teach at the 500-hour level, the highest level available.
"He is a jewel, the perfect testimony for yoga," said Marinda Hollar, owner of the Arlington Yoga Center. "It’s not only his physical prowess, but his kindness. Humility. Authenticity. He’s not trying to get money or attention. He cares about others. That’s what a yogi is."
Talati hopes to open a yoga studio next year. For now, his daughter and granddaughter are his regular students.
Arpita Shah’s stamina has improved, but she has yet to master the headstand.
"My grandfather won’t let me use a wall to help balance," she said. "He tells me, 'There are no shortcuts.’ He says I must learn the right way. No matter how long it takes. I am so lucky. I have found my teacher in him."
A simple life
Talati lives simply, modestly, happily, at peace with himself and the world.
He sleeps in a small guest room furnished with a rattan bed and a dresser.
A photograph on one wall pictures the woman to whom he was married for 66 years.
After Padmavati Talati died last year at age 85, her husband left his homeland to live with family in Texas.
"I prefer it here," Talati said. "The climate is better. The atmosphere. The air."
Rising before dawn, the yogi bows before a brightly colored painting of a Hindu deity and then begins his regimented day with a body-cleansing cup of hot water with lemon juice and honey.
A vegetarian, he has whole-wheat toast, with egg whites, juice and Indian tea for breakfast.
He doesn’t require naps and spends hours each day reading and writing about yoga.
Before retiring at 10:30 p.m. he walks about two miles.
"He wants to start jogging," his granddaughter said.
How long will he live?
The question appeared to surprise and amuse the elderly man.
"As long as God gives me that bonus," he said, smiling. "It is not in my hand. I want to die healthy. That is always my prayer."
Child's Pose: It's Child's Play...
A reader request...this one's for you K...
OK, no really, it's called Child's Pose (or, Garbhasana in Sanskrit). But, some of my awesome students back in Houston sort of inadvertently renamed it "Child's Play," and the name has stuck.
It's an apt renaming because this is a really, really easy pose, and the great thing is you have been doing it since you were a child, so no practice required.
This posture is a forward bending movement and so it is extremely calming to the central nervous system. This is something yoga really excels at: turning off the sympathetic nervous system which initiates our "fight or flight" responses, and turning on the parasympathetic system which makes us feel, "ah...relaxed...happy....safe." Too much of the former and not enough of the later leads to chronic stress syndromes, weight gain, adrenal depletion, and many other "dis-eases" of the body, mind and spirit.
So, lets practice together:
Come down on to your hands and knees on your mat, or the floor. Sink your hips back onto your feet and fold forward at your hips so that your hands come down in front of you and your forehead touches the floor; you can also move your hand to your sides with the palms facing up, still keeping your forehead on the floor. Experiment with both and notice the differences. Allow your tail bone to lengthen down towards the floor so that your spine feels very long.
Stay here breathing deeply in and out of your nose for at least three minutes. Allow your body to sink into the posture more deeply with each exhale. Repeat the mantra, "I have everything I need. I have everything I need. I have everything I need."
Notice the changes in your body and mind from when you start to when you complete your posture. Allow the sensations you feel at the end of the posture to resonate inside of you for a minute or two. Remember, as you move slowly out of the pose and into your day, that you carry this calm and equanimity within you...after all, it's just child's play.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Om Peace, Peace, Peace
Mountain Pose: Standing on Your Own Two Feet
Standing on your own two feet sounds like one of the simplest of tasks, but it is something I find challenging my students again, and again. Making contact with the ground in a firm and balanced way doesn't always happen automatically for a number of reasons.
Firstly, we all have our own habitual ways of standing, and the longer we stand the more pronounced these usually become. A teacher of mine used to say, "Let me see your best grocery store line stance." And there we'd all be, leaning on one foot or the other, maybe a heel rocked back; a slouch though the torso. When we get tired we tend to alternate putting more pressure on one foot, then the other, when in reality we would get heaps more energy if we would just push down into our feet evenly.
Secondly, these habitual patterns create, and reinforce muscle and skeletal imbalances. In turn we feel more fatigued, and this spreads throughout the whole body.
Thirdly, our footwear can be truly horrendous. Much of it fails to give adequate support to our feet and legs, some of it tips our pelvis and torso at odd angles (high heels, anyone?), and they can reinforce or exacerbate imbalances already present.
But, never fear...YOGA is here, and it provides an easy solution in the posture known as Tadasana, or Mountain Pose.
This posture is basically standing evenly on your own two feet. Try it out (get outside in the grass if you can, it will make this exercise even more yummy):
Come to a standing position in your bare feet (important so that you can feel them!) Stand with your big toes, heels and ankles together, if this is very uncomfortable for you, try separating your feet about 6 inches, but keep your feet parallel. Allow your hands to hang down by your side.
Begin to press your feet firmly into the ground. Can you feel each of the four sides, of each foot, touching the ground? Notice if there are any gaps, or if you are leaning a little more to one edge or another. Press down the balls of your feet and lift your toes; then spread them out as if they were fingers, and place them back down one, by one. Press fully into your feet again. Notice the sensations that come as the soles of your feet make contact with the earth; feel the energy that is being drawn up and into your body.
Notice what is happening in your legs as you press. Do you find a new firmness? An increase in energy? What has happened to the pelvis? Bring your awareness further up, and notice the position of your chest, shoulders, neck and head. Do you feel lighter? Straighter? Stronger? Take note of all these things and the way your entire body feels in its position in space.
In Yoga we use the energy of moving down, to rise up; this is the foundation of every posture.
If you are new to yoga, WELCOME, you are doing it, and can continue your sadhana (practice) every time you are standing on your own two feet.
May your feet always rest joyfully upon the earth,