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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tadasana - Mountain Pose - Yoga Wuji

Notes from B.K.S. Iyengar
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar is considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world and has been practising and teaching yoga for more than 75 years. He has written many books on yoga practice and philosophy. In 2004, Iyengar was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.

The body extends upwards, with the base as firm as a rock; the mind is steady and attentive. Tadasana teaches balance, centering and evenness and direction of extensions. These principles apply to all the postures. -B.K.S Iyengar

Tadasana is perhaps the most basic yoga pose. All yoga poses are called asana and the word tada translates from Sanskrit to mountain, thus this is the 'mountain posture'. As it is a very simple and restful pose it is usually one of the very first that must be mastered by a new student. It is the base for all the other asanas, particularly the standing ones.
Although the pose looks simple, and indeed is the most simple of the asanas, it still takes much practise and concentration to master all the different areas of the body and combine them into a strong yet relaxed posture. Placing the body correctly from the beginning is of utmost importance as this will help the pose to be balanced for its entirety.

The ideal when practising tadasana is that the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and ears are exactly in a straight, vertical line. At first, this may take a surprising amount of concentration and effort. In order for your body to be lined up this way, its base, that is your feet, must be lined up. Think about the way people stand most of the time, they pretty much always lean one way or the other. Resting most of their weight on one leg, perhaps switching between the two, or standing with one leg placed more forward that the other. Even when sitting ones feet are hardly ever planted flat on the floor.

That is why this pose is so important and teaches many of the fundamental disciplines needed to carry out other standing poses successfully. Balance, alignment, concentration and awareness of the body are all focused on whilst practising tadasana. When one first begins to practise it is very important to take care when doing each of the following steps so that the end result is good. As one becomes more experienced the body will more naturally align its self, and many of the steps will become less conscious.

Once the body is correctly lined up and placed in this position, it is very important to focus on keeping it this way. Make sure that you are not leaning more weight onto one foot and that your arms are still hanging in line. Focus on taking long, deep breathes. Checking your alignment will make you aware of adjusting your body in a sensitive and subtle way. Your left and right and front and back should be exactly in line and parallel, even if one finger is bent and the other is not, this alignment is lost. Become aware of the line that runs between your legs, through the front and back of the body and to the crown of your head. This line should be vertical and once achieved you should take note of the balance and stability your body has in this position.

Try and make the mind still, do not let it wander, instead making it focus on the body, thus making it aware of the equilibrium gained. The position is normally held for about a minute, but at first you may wish to only stay in it for shorter amounts of time, and with practice you may extend it to any length you feel comfortable with. It is an excellent pose to start off with and once mastered will make all other poses more balanced and strong.

Settling into the posture brings repose. It follows precise placement of the limbs, correct extension and balance. There is peace and unity within. The mind fills every particle of the body, bringing harmony. This is Yoga.
 - B.K.S Iyengar