“Be still like a mountain, and flow like a great river” – Lao Tzu
These are fantastic asanas (postures) for cultivating a sense of stillness and strength. They help us to discover alignment anomalies we may have hidden under the surface in our own bodies, and they help us to work with them to find more functional movement. These two asanas form the basis for all standing postures in Yoga.
The name Tadasana comes from the Sanskrit word “tada”, meaning “mountain”. In Tadasana we look to ground ourselves, becoming steady and strong. When practicing Tadasana we can form a connection with the earth below us. Samasthiti is an important tool to help us build awareness of our bodies, balance and areas of tension.
They look completely similar as postures, and no one is better than the other. They may also come across as slightly mundane, or straight-forward, but there is more to it than meets the eye here! These two standing asanas can help us take awareness from the soles of the feet upwards, and inwards, to gain a more “whole body experience” that we can take into more complex and demanding standing asanas.
Be sure to spend some time in either of these postures each time you practice, whether at home or in class.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog
Uttanasana – Foward Fold
Step By Step Guide
Depending on your preference, you can stand either feet touching, or up to a hip width apart. If your feet are together, stand with the bases of the big toes touching and your heels slightly apart so that your second toes are in line with each other. If you are standing with your feet up to a hip width apart, make sure your middle toes are directly in front of your heels so that your feet are pointing directly forwards.
Lift your toes from the floor and spread the toes wide. With the toes lifted and spread, feel the arches come back to your feet and the contact of your four corners of your feet, base of big toe and little toe and inner and outer edges of heels, to the floor. Keep awareness in your feet as you lower the toes and maintain active arches.
Now cascade your awareness up your legs. Feel activity from your inner arches running up your inner calves and thighs towards the groin. Firm your thigh muscles to the bones and lift your kneecaps without locking your knee joints back. Taking awareness into your pelvis, slightly lift at your pelvic floor, draw in at the base of the belly and drop your tailbone downwards, letting it roll slightly forwards towards your pubis.
From this activity of soft strength and stability at your lower belly / pelvic area, inhale and let your awareness travel up from your stable “core”, along the spine and into the crown of the head. Draw your shoulder blades into your back and let them soften downwards. Lift up at the breastbone and widen the collarbone area whilst keeping the lower ribs contained and not letting them fall forwards. Your arms are next to your waist and hips. They are active all the way through to the fingertips.
Soften the front of your throat as your draw the chin slightly inwards to lengthen the back of your neck. Soften your eye gaze and keep them focussed in front of you. Breathe deeply, fully and consciously. Take your attention inwards to feel all aspects of the pose and the stability it can bring.
So there you have it! Be sure to put this at the beginning of each of your home practices and spend some time there.