One thing I like to do when I start a yoga session, either by myself or when I’m teaching, is, beginning with centering. I find that centering is important. I like to begin with sighs and releasing breathe. And close my eyes. I tell myself to leave the worries and troubles and concerns outside at the door. If I need to pick them up on my way out, I can do that. But, for the half hour to hour that I am giving myself this treat of yoga, I can leave the troubles outside. And that includes all the self-judgment about postures that I might or might not be able to do or the fat that I carry on my body. I think that is one of the things that has made yoga good for me. I permit myself not to be disappointed with myself…..mentally, emotionally, or physically. It doesn’t always work. And I give myself permission for that, too.
Tadasana: The Mountain
Tadasana is one of the most basic of all yoga postures. It is a grounding posture to bring the body and mind in balance and alignment.
I know you are on your computer, but take a moment and stand erect. Your feet are hip-width apart and parallel like railroad tracks. Your weight is distributed evenly on both feet.
Stand tall. Your chin is level. Your arms are at your side. Your shoulders are relaxed, downward.
You feel strong in your legs. They are your support. They are reaching down into the earth. Your thighs are firm. Your kneecaps are raised. Your buttocks are tucked.
All the energy in the lower part of your body is your support. With this strength, grow from your waist, your chest, reaching out through the crown of your head. Your torso reaches up.
And of course, remember to breathe. Life is easier when we take the time to breathe.
Bring your arms up to a “t” position. Stretch to the east and the west. Reaching out to infinity. Remember to keep those shoulders relaxed.
Now turn the palms up and bring your arms up parallel beside your ears. Your arms and legs are in alignment. (Remember those shoulders).
Feel the gentle touch of a loved one on your shoulders reminding them to stay relaxed. Keeping your neck long. Still reaching out through the crown of your head, growing taller. Taller in your life.
The lower part of your body is reaching Earthward. It is giving you support and grounding. The upper part of your body is reaching Heavenward, your arms held up by angels. As you breathe, you may wonder, are you a human (with the lower part of your body reaching Earthward) having a spiritual experience (upper body reaching upward)? Or are you a spiritual creature from the Heavens having a human experience reaching into the earth?
When the time is right, let your arms float down, release the holding in your legs and thighs and buttocks. Close your eyes and relax.
Virabhadrasana 1: Warrior I
This is one of 3 warrior postures. It is sometimes called the male warrior.
Stand in Tadasana/Mountain with your arms overhead. Feel strong in this posture. Feel grounded and supported.
Step forward about 3 feet with your right foot. This is your “leading foot.” Your right foot is flat on the ground, but your left heel has come off the ground.
Bend your right/leading knee and sink down with your torso, allowing your sitz bones and your tailbone to become heavy and relax. Your leading knee should be just above your leading ankle and foot. You don’t want your knee to extend forward beyond your foot or be too far behind your foot.
Press down solidly with your right foot.
Now, about that torso, it should be straight. Your hip bones are pressing forward. Your chest is pressing forward. Your shoulders are relaxed (ha!) as your arms are straight beside your ears. The crown of your head is pressing upward.
Your buttocks are squeezed. This helps to protect your lower back. Your spine is elongated.
What about the back foot? Press your back (left) heel downward. It probably won’t reach the floor. Press in that direction. And press the back of your left knee up.
This is a potent position. You are the peaceful warrior. You can sit in this posture for about five breaths (or so). Forget how your body feels for a moment. Breathe in this posture. You are determined. You are invincible. You are strong. You are relaxed. You are relaxing into this posture of strength. You are calm. You are in control.
Now, after five breaths (or so), press down on your leading foot and push yourself back up to standing. Let your arms come down to your sides and let the palms relax open to the front. Let your eyes close. And let go of the posture.
After a moment or so, repeat this posture on the other side with your left foot as the leading foot.