Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekly Asana Analysis- Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose amid Baby Blur

Maybe this pose looks too easy but one of the great things about it is you can do it almost anywhere, standing in the elevator, waiting in line, at the bus stop, at the bar... And for people who are a little yoga shy don't worry, no one will even know you're doing it.

Mountain Pose- Tadasana
  1. Start this pose standing up with your feet hip width apart.  Your feet should be parallel to each.
  2. Once you've found the right position for your feet plant your heels and lift the front part of your foot up. When you put the ball of your foot back down try to put it closer to the heel of your foot, making a higher arch in your foot. Spread your toes as far apart from each other as you can.
  3. Moving up the body consider the tilt of your pelvis. The easiest way to do this is by touching your lower back. If there seems to have a big 'C' curve in it your pelvis is tilted forward. If it is very flat your pelvis is tilted back. If your flexibility allows it find a place in the middle where there is a curve in the lower spine but not so much that it is pushing your ribs out.
  4. Engage your abdominals slightly but do not make them so rigid as to stop your breath from entering your  abdomen.
  5. Pretend there is a string attached to the top part of your head in the area where all your hair swirls apart (the crown). Stretch up as though someone is pulling that string towards the ceiling. 
  6. Roll your shoulders together in front of you and then roll them back behind you like you are trying to touch your shoulder blades. Find somewhere in the middle that feels strong but not rigid. Take and deep breath and relax your shoulders away from your ears on the exhale.
  7. Turn your hands so that your palms are facing towards your legs.
  8. Tuck your chin towards your collar bone slightly (pulling it in maybe 1 inch).
  9. On your inhale fill your belly and your chest and on your exhale allow the chest to fall and your belly button to come towards your spine.
  10. Stay like this for ten deep breaths.
Tips- This is a great pose for assessing imbalance. If you perform it in front of the mirror look at your shoulders. Are they the same level and distance from the mirror or is one higher or more rolled forward? Look at your feet. Are your toes trying to turn out or in? Do your knees bend backwards or away from each other? Turn sideways and look again. Do you notice the extra curve in your lower back keeps wanting to return? Do your shoulders try to roll forward? Is your chin pulling forward? All of these are signs of misalignments in the body which can lead to pain in many different parts of the body. While it may not be obvious when you first look in the mirror it will become more obvious as you get used to looking for these things and also as you practice yoga these things will begin to come back into line.

For an added stretch reach your right hand behind your back and grab your left hand or left elbow. Let your right ear drop to the right shoulder. Depending how much stretch you feel you can start pulling your left arm to your right side behind your back. Try to release the weight of your head and relax all the muscles in the left side of your neck. Breathe and repeat on the other side.

For an added challenge while standing in Mountain Pose bend your arms at the elbow until your arms are right angles. Raise your arms until your fingers are in line with your chin. Pull your shoulder blades towards each other, contracting the muscles between your shoulder blades, release. Do this for three sets of 20, moving with the breathe and remembering to breath deeply.