Standing Mountain, or Tadasana in Sanskrit, is one of the five foundational poses that has evolved for me over time. In my first ever Yoga class, I remember standing with my shoulders hunched forward and feeling as if time was being wasted. As I grew in my awareness of my physical body, I began to discover dynamic tension. Dynamic tension asks us to investigate the pulling of our muscles in opposite directions. My Standing Mountain went from letting my shoulders hunch forward and my mind becoming bored to a posture that brought beads of sweat to my forehead.
Challenge ourselves to stand upright, feet hips distance apart and spread our toes wide. Pressing into our mat with our entire foot we begin to activate dynamic tension and disobey gravity here. Soften the knees enough for a tiny bend (no one wants to be that person at a wedding that falls over from our knees being locked out) and let our belly be pulled in toward our spine. As our shoulders roll back, let our fingers become active in reaching toward the floor. The crown of our head reaches skyward allowing our spine to lengthen. Continue to cycle our consciousness through these different points of emphasis. Hold the posture for five full breaths. How do we feel?
Feel free to repeat for fewer or more breaths as we feel necessary. This posture can also be completed in a chair at home, work or even in our car (please keep both hands on the wheel though if driving). Always investigate and ask how we feel :). Who knows what we might learn about our body.
Health Benefits (http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/mountain-pose/)
- Improves posture
- Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles
- Firms abdomen and buttocks
- Relieves sciatica
- Reduces flat feet
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We are all incompetent to some capacity. There are two ways to respond to our inadequacies, violence or love. I’ve learned to accept that there are just some poses in yoga that my body, anatomically, just isn’t prepared for yet. It’s really frustrating. My background in competitive sports often clicks in and I want to surpass what others are doing and even what I thought I could do myself. When recently working on flying pigeon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEsJMOW6RKc), I injured my right knee. Everything went fantastic on the left side, but I don’t have as much openness or flexibility in my right hip. The lack of flexibility here also puts strain on my right knee. So in a hurried state of thinking both sides should be equal, I heard a pop in my right knee. It seems to be healing pretty well so far, but all of that could have been avoided if I just decided to not be violent towards myself. There was no reason to throw myself into a pose that I know my body was not prepared for.
I tell the above recent reflection because I do not want you to be discouraged by your practice. Yoga is not a “on to the next level of poses and see what I can do one or two times.” It is a constant communication between your mind, body and the world within and around us. A practice filled with familiar poses and a positive acceptance of the state of your body can do wonders for you mentally and physically. You aren’t powerless … you are quite powerful when you display patience, acceptance and love. Don’t let the anger you hold towards yourself keep you from the beauty of the moment.
Dealing with Powerlessness
Mantra – I love who I am right now.
Whether we respond with anger, withdrawal, frustration, or resignation, there is a way in which our mind shuts down, as if we are riding a train through a dark tunnel and we can’t see anything but darkness and anxiety. Ahimsa, nonviolence, invites us to question the feeling of powerlessness rather than accept it.
There are three ways of thinking that can shift you out of a feeling of powerlessness: practicing gratitude, trust in the moment, and thinking about others. Any sense of powerlessness we are feeling can be traced back to the story we are telling ourselves in the moment about the situation. We all have the choice to tell a different story and grow ourselves up to take responsibility for our lives in a new and fresh way. With this attitude, feelings of powerlessness become opportunities to become competent rather than violent.
Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele