When I teach Yoga classes to beginners I often say that the first class is a lesson in sitting, standing and lying down. The are invariably 3 poses I always do in every class: Sukhasana (easy sitting pose – see my pic at right), Tadasana (Mountain pose, standing) and Savasana (Corpse pose, lying). I’m also known to say that after that first lesson beginning yoga becomes like a game of Twister. Left foot red, right foot green, arms overhead… you get the picture.
Several of my fellow teachers and I are studying one yoga pose more in depth every month starting this month. As practitioners ourselves it is helpful to have a them to our practice or something to focus on. You challenge yourself, you learn new things, your body is always changing so there are always new things to learn. The same things apply when you teach – you want to learn more. The difference is that you also want to share what you’ve learned.
Tadasana, or Mountain pose, is a great introduction to Yoga. If only I had a nickel for every time someone said to me “I can’t do Yoga, I’m not flexible”. That only tells me that they have no idea what Yoga is and just don’t even want to go there (lack of interest, lack of understanding, fear?) The point is, you don’t do Yoga because you are flexible, you do it to become flexible. At least that’s my counterpoint. For further clarification I’d also like to add that it increases strength, endurance, relaxation and a sense of well being. Frankly, I could almost care less about being flexible. As another great Yoga teacher once said “They won’t put on your tombstone ‘she had really open hamstrings’”.
Back to Mountain pose. Mountain pose, in essence, is standing straight up and standing still. OK, there is more to it than that. The rest of it, however, is a practice in subtleness. How am I standing? What is my posture like? How do my feet feel? Where is the weight in my feet? What are my toes doing? How does my back feel? Are my shoulders lifting, slumping forward or gliding down and back? Is the weight of my head balanced? I could go on. You could think of it not as ‘just standing’ but as really STANDING. Try it sometime and you’ll know what I mean.
Want to learn more? Find out what we learned during our Month of Mountain pose.