As I mentioned Tadasana in my blog post yesterday I thought I would write a little about this glorious grounding posture today.
Tadasana is one of those postures that if someone looked through the window of a yoga class and saw everyone doing it, they would wonder what all the fuss is about, it appears simply to be standing up!! This beautiful pose is so much more than just standing however. Active standing may get closer to understanding the pose but actually words can never do it justice, as with all yoga poses, in order to feel its power and majesty you have to embody it. Let it live through you and you through it.
I love this pose for many reasons. Firstly it is accessible and available to everyone no matter how flexible or inflexible they may be and because of this it allows everyone an opportunity to connect with their breath, open up to and become aware of the prana (universal life force) all around them and within them and quite literally feel themselves pulse in unison with the universe, nature, life in all its wonder.
Now before I lose some of you because that all seems a bit too ‘tree hugging’, ‘hippy dippy’ for you, let me reasure you all of the benefits you can get from Tadasana even if you don’t find yourself feeling gloriously connected to the universe as you root down and stretch up. Indeed those with a regular yoga practice will know there are days when you are much more connected to your breath and sensitive to the prana all around and within you, and other days where you go through the motions of the poses, but don’t feel them on a deeper level.
Tadasana develops physical and mental balance. The entire spine is stretched and loosened, helping to clear up congestion of the spinal nerves at the points where they emerge from the spinal column and thereby improve posture and align the chakras. It relieves sciatica, reduces flat feet and strenthens the thighs, knees and ankles. It also firms the abdomen and buttocks (and who doesn’t want that?!).
There are a number of variations of this pose depending on which lineage of yoga you follow and in Astanga yoga it is also referred to as Samisthiti, however whichever variation you favour (and I will mention a few below) the essence of the pose is the same. So without further ado, I give you….Tadasana………as I say, it looks fairly unspectacular….
Step 1: Stand with your big toes together and your heels slightly apart. Spread your toes and root into the earth, feeling strong and solid.
Step two: Activate your thighs firming them and lifting your knee caps. Rotate the upper thighs slightly inward, keeping your thighs active.
Step three: Bring your spine to neutral by tucking your tailbone in slightly.
Many of us when we think we are standing up straight are actually tilting our tail bone out so that all the weight is taken in our lower back rather than our core, as in the picture on the left below. Others over compensate when tucking the tail bone in so that the shoulders round and the chest hallows, as in the picture on the right below. Be careful of both.
Step four: roll your shoulders up and back. Turn your palms forward bringing your shoulder blades together. Activate your hands, spreading and stretching your fingers, creating space. Take a few breaths here, feeling the tingle in your fingertips.
Step five: rotate your palms back in towards the body. Keeping space between your arms and your body. Raise your chest and gaze slightly. Close your eyes and inhale deeply. Exhale slowly and completely and become aware of your breath pulsing with each inhale and exhale. Still the mind, concentrate on the breath.
- You may like to bring your hands into prayer, bring them to your forehead and then raise them from there straight up. Bring your gaze to the eye shaped space between your palms, remember to keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Alternatively, raise the arms over your head, interlock your fingers and turn the palms upward. Fix the eyes at a point on the wall slightly above the level of the head, and keep them fixed on this point throughout the practice. Inhale and stretch the arms shoulders and chest upward. Raise the heels coming up onto the toes. Stretch the whole body from top to bottom without losing balance or moving the feet. Hold the breath and the position for a few seconds, exhale and release.
I encourage you all to take a few moments to try this posture today, to connect with your breath and the prana within you and all around you. Let the pose be organic, not rigid and stiff, expand and open to receive the prana on the inhale and relax and allow the prana travel through you on the exhale so that you are literally pulsing with each breath. Feel the connection between the earth and sky, with you as a conduit for the flow of energy. Embody the posture, feeling the grouding effect of rooting into the earth, the solid foundational strength of the mountain, and through your breath, breathe life into every cell of your body as you grow in stature whilst remaining firmly and solidly grounded.
Try to keep this awareness of your place in, and connection to the bigger whole throughout the day. I find sometimes when I am walking, if I simply activate and spread my fingers and allow a smile to come from within and reach my face I can feel a tingle at the fingertips which brings me back to the sensation on the mat in Tadasana. I also encourage you to check your posture, whether sitting or standing throughout the day, remind yourself to relax your shoulders so that you become aware of how much tension you may routinely and unconciously carry there, engage your core, and align your spine as you did in Tadasana so that the nadis (energy channels) within your body remain unconstricted and you remain open to receive just that little bit more.
As Eckhart Tolle wrote in his wonderful book ‘A new earth: awakening to your life’s purpose’:
‘life is the dancer, and you are the dance’,
let Tadasana awaken this awareness within you and embrace life dancing within you,through you and all around you.
If you are new to yoga and give it a whirl, I would be delighted to hear how you found it, do please share. It would also be lovely to hear from any yogis or yogini’s out there with anything you would add or your feelings about the pose.
I guess all that there is left to say today is……Tadasana……let’s be havin’ ya!!
Namaste beautiful souls.