March Yoga Pose of the Month
A pose you can do practically anywhere, without looking too conspicuous.
The March Pose of the Month is Tadasana (Tah-DAH-sah-nah) or Mountain Pose. This is a foundational pose and, with spring upon us, it seems appropriate to start at the very beginning. It is also the first pose in Surya Namaskar (SUR-yah-NAM-ah-skar) — known as the Sun Salutation, which is a very traditional sequence performed in most yoga classes.
Tadasana is the blue print for many poses in yoga. Even though it seems simple, it is important to understand what is happening (or should be) happening in this pose. It is active and there is a lot to think about.
The whole purpose of the pose is to take a moment to set your alignment, stack the spine and line up the chakras. It is not just standing in a relaxed way. It is about fighting gravity and the oppression of our occupations and day-to-day tasks. So much of our daily activities require that we unhealthily curve and bend our upper back: typing on computers and laptops, sitting at desks, looking at our phones, cooking, driving, biking and the list goes on and on.
My favorite thing about this pose is that we can do it almost anywhere without looking totally conspicuous. As we stack our bones in the best possible way and remove the over-exaggerated curvatures of the spine that happen when we are not thinking, we open up our airways. The blood as well as the breath can flow freely. Your breath increases your life force and your chakras flow optimally as well.
Another reason I chose this pose because it is a balanced and symmetrical. The Spring Equinox falls in this month, during which the days and night are equal in length. Because of this important time of the year, I wanted a pose that was equal on the right and left sides of the body.
To set up the pose, start by standing. place your feet hip-width apart and parallel to each other, which means your heels are right behind your second and third toes. Lift your toes and spread them wide to widen your platform. Place them back down and push your entire foot down into the ground. Focus on the four corners of your foot, then focus on outer edges of your heels. Next focus on pinky toe and then inner edges of heels. Feel the connection in all parts of the feet with weight balanced on both feet.
Your knees should be right above your ankles and under your hips. For some of us, when we straighten our legs, our knees are behind ankles and hips. This is called a hyperextension of the knees. If this happens in your body, don’t lock out your knees, instead take a micro bend in the knees to bring them in line with the ankles and hips.
Draw your tailbone down slightly without exaggerating this motion. Imagine your pelvis is a bowl of water and this bowl is positioned so that no water spills out. If it is tilted too far one way and your lower back is arched, the water will “spill out” of the front. Tilted the other and the pelvis is tucked, it will “spill out” the back.
Turn the palms to face whatever is in front of you. This externally rotates the shoulders, taking some of the rounding out of the shoulders and upper back. Make sure your front ribs don’t pop out. If they do, draw them back in. Bring your chin in ever so slightly so that your chin is parallel to the floor. Reach the crown of the head to the sky. Lengthen the back of your neck and your spine.
Imagine growing taller. You are indeed lengthening your spine. Root down in your feet. Energy radiates down from the lower half of your body into the floor. Imagine growing roots from your feet, planting you nice and stable into the floor. The crown of the head reaches up on an inhale. As you exhale, soften shoulders away front the ears and reach fingertips to the floor.
You can practice this pose while waiting in line at the grocery store, talking to a friend at a party, watching your child’s soccer game. You can do it anywhere and you won’t look nearly as strange as you would if you were practicing Eagle.
So take some time this month to refine Tadasana, the grandfather of all poses.