Answers to your essential Yoga questions
One of the most common questions we get at Yoga for Men is “How can I begin my home practice?” While there are many answers to this broad question, the solution varies greatly depending upon which stage of practice you are in, and what your prior physical history has been up until this point. In this ongoing series, YfM will focus some of the more frequent questions that arise.
I wanted to say some good things about Mountain Pose, Tadasana. When we are learning yoga it can get quickly forgotten in the flood of new information in it’s simplicity, so maybe this will refocus our attention back to it a little. This is just a reminder that a good Mountain pose is more than just standing up straight and that it takes practice just like any other pose. In fact it can be hard to master and if you have posture and alignment issues you will need the correcting effects of other yoga positions (asanas) to perfect Mountain.
Mountain is the beginning of our practice and not just because it is the first (and last) position of the sun salutation flow. It is the beginning of body awareness and centering. It’s a static equilibrium between body and mind. It is the point at which you are most straight and tall; physically nearest the sky, sun, and if you like, Heaven. This is a powerful pose. You exude confidence and pride while practicing your Tadasana.
I think at some point most yogis take to making a concerted effort to practice Mountain when they are standing still, at least for a phase if not as a consistent conscious thing everyday. It’s a great thing to do and if you haven’t tried it yet I suggest next time you are waiting in a line somewhere strike your Mountain pose. The time may go by faster, plus, you will most likely look and feel better while you really don’t have much else to do besides wait anyway.
Here’s a quick checklist of what goes into a good Tadasana or Mountain pose:
- Stand with feet together- big toes, heels and ankles touching (if that is unstable try a fist’s width apart with parallel feet)
- Knees straight and thigh muscles lift knee caps
- Legs are stretching up while the spine extends and the front of the body lifts
- Shoulders back- blades in as arms hang loosely
- Relax the hands and keep them facing the hips
- Make the neck long and straight
- Relax your face and look forward
- Concentrate on centering the body
- Balance weight evenly on both feet
- Keep your chest open
- Extend both sides of the body evenly to be as “tall” as possible
- Keep your glutes relaxed as your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are all in alignment
- BREATHE and feel the lightness in your upper spine through the top of your head
Yoga poses have a symbolic or metaphoric name to help us remember them. Traditionally Mountain pose is talked about as a lifesource metaphor with rivers being born in the mountains and the flowing water giving life as it travels down. I like that a lot, but I had another thought about a natural phenomenon that has to do with mountains as it relates to this pose I wanted to share…
When we do Tadasana correctly our upper body feels light and lifted. Air easily fills the lungs during deep breaths naturally. Just as that sensation of lift and rushing air find us in Mountain pose, winds form on very tall mountains in nature. These winds move up the mountain on all sides early in the morning regardless of the direction. They just lift and move up because the air on top of the mountain which is closer to the sun is heated first, as that air heats, it also rises creating an upward force and a vacuum for more air to be pulled up the mountain as well.
So as you are doing your mountain perhaps you might imagine the top of a mountain somewhere in your pelvic belly. Everything below that point is steady and firmly grounded like a mountain. Everything above is gently lifted on these winds as your head floats upward like a cloud being pushed higher on these rushing air currents. It’s a very nice place to be, and from here on top of your mountain you can peacefully enjoy a quiet stable center whether it’s in line at the supermarket, on your yoga mat or whereever you go.
That’s all for now. Be sure to leave your comment in the comments section below, along with any other “newbie” questions you may have.
breathe and release forward…YfM