Namaskara=Greeting or Salutation=
Surya means the sun and Namaskara is a greeting of honor and respect to the divinity present in each of us. Surya Namaskara, or salutation to the sun, is an important yogic practice dating back to the vedic period when the sun was worshipped as a symbol of spiritual consciousness. There are many variations on Sun Salutations. In this series we will focus on the practice of the postures that make up Surya Namaskara A, or Sun Salute A. These postures weave together to generate prana (subtle energy) aiming towards the purification and rejuvenation of the yoga practitioner. Sun Salutations can be a full practice on their own or they can be used as kramas (steps) to weave together a vinyasa flow (breath syncronized movement).
For the benefit of the home practioner we will breakdown each posture one by one. In a typical vinyasa class the sun salutation can move rather quickly and the momentum doesn’t always allow us to explore each pose and all the benefits they can offer.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
At first glance it may look like there is not a lot going on in Tadasana. But, with further exploration you will see that this is a very active pose and can actually be used as a practice on its’ own. If it helps you may record these instructions for your own use. Some find they connect more deeply in this posture with their eyes closed and relying only on verbal instructions.
The main objective here is to learn to stand firmly. The way we connect to the ground in combination with the use of the legs determines the entire state of our body. All postures whether standing or not come from a firm foundation. The energetic effect will be strengthening and grounding. Regardless of what standing pose you are in, think about constructing it in a manner that no body could knock you over.
1) Come to standing at the front of your mat. Bring feet together, big toes touching, heels slightly apart. Connect to the breath & initiate Ujaii Breathing. For those not familiar with the ujaii breath please click here.
2) Bring your attention to the Padha Banda, the foot lock. Feet are deeply rooted into the earth. Lift and spread all 10 toes and then lower, trying to maintain the space betweeen them that you have just created. Find your balance and stability by engaging all four corners of the feet.
3) Feel the energy of the earth start to radiate up into the legs, lift up your kneecaps and thighs, engaging the quadriceps, feel the energy continue to rise as your awareness goes to the Mulabanda, your root lock, located in the pelvic floor. Lift the perineum (the area between the anus and the genitals) Keep the mula engaged throughout Tadasana.
4) Engage Uddiyana Badha by drawing the navel in and then upward, creating an upward flow of energy and notice a lightness that comes across your whole being. Uddiyana remains engaged throughout Tadasana.
5) Grow long in the spine, feel the energy flow up your central axis, the Shushumna nadi, tail bone draws down, heart is shining up and open, ribs are tucked in, soften the tops of the shoulders, arms straight down along your sides, hands active, prana radiating out of the fingertips.
6) Elongate the neck allowing the crown of the head to ascend toward the sky.
7) Engage Jalandhara Banda, the chin lock, slightly tucking the chin, whilst creating the greatest length of the neck you can achieve.
8) As the feet are rooted, energy flowing from bottom to top, feel the lightness that eminates from within the body.
9) Stay here for several rounds of breath with all badhas engaged and the ujjai breath flowing.
Tadasana is said to be found in each and every pose. In other words the essential qualities in each and every pose should work one’s ability to bring awareness from the foundation of the body and up, while visualizing oneself as aligned along the central axis.
Tadasana is the perfect place to explore the bandhas and the breath. It takes a long time to cultivate the bandhas and the breath and connecting with them here will help carry you through your practice.
One of my teachers used to say “to be a master, you must master the basics.” Spend all the time you need in Tadasana. It can teach you a lot about yourself and your practice.
Keep practicing and join us next time for Uttanasana, the standing forward fold, as we continue breaking down all the postures of Surya Namaskara.
*** Your assignment, if you choose to accept? Practice all of the essential energenic components of Tadasana throughout your day. Try for at least twice a day where you are feeling grounded, engage your bandas and feel lightness in your body.
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Stacy and the Y3 team