Good morning Yogis! Welcome to our detailed breakdown of each of the poses in the Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations Series from a couple of days ago. We will begin at the beginning Asana of this Sun Salutations series Tadasana (ta-DA-sa-nuh), which literally translates from Sanskrit as Mountain Pose, and is often the first pose in many Yoga classes. You will be surprised how much there is to take into account with your posture in this seemingly basic standing pose!
I know many of you who have practiced Yoga in the past, especially those who have attended classes at Yoga Studios, are very familiar with this series and the poses in them. However, what really got me interested in Yoga, and start focusing on Yoga rather than Pilates, was ONE class I did not want to take, after sporadically practicing Yoga for over 3 years. This transformation class was an alignment focused mandatory new student class at a Hot Yoga studio I wanted to join shortly after moving to Atlanta in 2013. We went into deep detail on each of the poses in the Sun Salutations series in this class, and I learned I had alignment issues in nearly all of these “easy” poses. I completely changed my practice and focus after only one class.
Also, I expect quite a few Yogi newbies will be joining us on this journey. I was SO nervous to attend my first Yoga class in a studio rather than following a DVD, and being comfortable with these basic poses is often the key to feeling comfortable in a studio practicing with others.
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to again perform the traditional Asana series – Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations Series. This time, do the full series twice on each side rather than just once. Stop and take a couple breaths in each Tadasana / Mountain pose, and see if you came back into “proper” alignment. Check where you placed your feet, hips, and shoulder/ears. and gently adjust if necessary before you start again. Also, we will focus on incorporating Diaphragmatic Breathing, and try to get a “flow” with one deep inhale or exhale for each pose.
Tadasana – Mountain Pose
Feet – Think of your feet as three primary contact points with the ground. These are the heels, pinky toes, and big toes. Make sure your big toes are touching. If possible, make sure the back of your heels are touching. If you have a lower back injury like I do, you may find it easier to keep the heels slightly apart. Claw your toes into the mat slightly to keep your arches from falling into the mat.
Legs – Make sure your legs are comfortably straight. Perhaps keep a slight bend in the knee. Always make sure you avoid hyper-extending or locking your knees.
Hips – Make sure your hips are neutral. Try to tilt your hips forward and back a bit to get a feel for your natural posture. Err on the side of tucking your tailbone under, rather than sticking your booty out.
Torso – Notice your rib cage. If you notice the bottom of rib cage is sticking out, pull back in and down to correct your posture. Next notice your shoulders. Try to gently roll your shoulders back and down, away from your ears. Notice how this helps your chest open. Allow your arms to rest by your sides a couple inches away from your body, with your palms facing forward or slightly to the outside.
Head and Neck – Check where your ears are compared to your shoulders. Most of us keep our heads slightly forward. If you notice you are doing this, tuck your chin slightly and gently press back to bring your neck and ears into alignment with your shoulders. Either close your eyes, or gaze softly ahead.
If you are a new Yogi, please be gentle with yourself! Please remember this is a journey, and be compassionate and accept where you are today. I have been practicing over 10 years and am still constantly working to improve my ear/shoulder alignment.
What do I do with my hands?!
Check out this little video for a few options for arms through Tadasana. I prefer to “swan dive” forward as in the first and second option. I find bringing hands up together above head and bringing prayer hands straight down to be most popular in the Yoga Studios I visit. You can also try bringing arms up straight in front of you… Try a few options, and pick your favorite!
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Please comment to share your experience! What did you think? Did you have any surprises going through your alignment from the ground up? Did you notice yourself improving as you repeated this series? Were you able to get the “flow” with your breath? More experienced Yogis.. have you taken a class or otherwise done a “back to the basics”? Always remember, be kind!