But for over a year I have been trying to understand the simplest of poses: Tadasana. And the more I do it the more I seem to discover about my body, my yoga practice, and my strengths and weaknesses. At my teachers training my practice was transformed by the simplest of observations – whatever we do in Tadasana we do in every yoga pose we attempt. So for example, if my left foot points a bit out in Tadasana then in every pose I do my left foot is going to point a little out.
Standing in namaz (prayer), I find that I can focus on my breath and my prayer more if I am aware of how i’m standing in Tadasana. The feet, hip width apart or close together, ground into the earth, the toes spread, the calves and thighs engage, the pelvis becomes neutral as your tailbone quietly tucks in, your navel centre engages, spine lengthens, shoulders relax down your back and your head and neck stay neutral with your eyes softly gazing ahead. This month, more often than in yoga practice I spent five times a day repeatedly moving in and out of Tadasana because of praying, and now I feel even more intimately connected to the beauty and complexity of simply “standing”. And yet, no matter how often I do it consciously no Tadasana I do is the same. Each time the pose changes, subtly evolving.
While you prepare your body in Tadasana, the final touch is to spread relaxation throughout your body – finding that incredibly fine line between relaxation and effort before beginning to move into any posture. That’s why all standing poses start from Tadasana, ofcourse! It makes sense that we first get grounded in our body before we move one of our legs back 2-3 feet to begin any of our favorite standing poses.
Yoga is a movement like dance, if it is done from the heart, with grace and intuition, no pose, no matter how one does it, will look “wrong”. When we see someone move with grace and confidence, anything they do reflects that beauty. Craig (teacher at Yandara) asked each of us to get into our downward dog in front of everyone. And most of us on our first try would try to “be perfect”. But instinctively he would know when we weren’t truly “in” the pose because in over thinking it we would forget to experience the pose. And the truth is we can all see that, because when someone is in their body performing (like an athlete, a dancer, or an actor/actress) we can instantly recognize if that person is being authentic or genuine — if that person is “present” or not in their body and movement. We can all read body language so well but for some reason we disconnect and stop applying this amazing skill of perception in our lives. This is perhaps one of the greatest gifts yoga can give anyone: more awareness and attention to our body translates to more awareness and attention in other parts of our lives.
So the first principle in any posture should be: feel the sensations. They are subtle and magnificent all at once. If you start from what seems easiest, like standing, it may lead you to understand that the challenge is not in the shape we can accomplish but in finding our “edge” – which only your inner voice can guide you towards. So trust yourself, don’t worry about what someone is doing next to you, or what the teacher can do, bring your attention to that feeling you want to cultivate – the perfect combination of effort and relaxation.
I just read this wonderful post by another yogi, and it fits so perfectly with this post of mine. please enjoy!