The purpose of practicing yoga asanas or postures is to train the physical body to be strong, toned and dynamic. The purpose is not to build muscle but to build muscle tone.
An asana or pose is not a posture that is assumed mechanically. It involves a thought process at the end of which a balance is achieved between movement and resistance. The body weight has to be evenly distributed over muscles, bones, and joints, just as your intelligence must be engaged at every level. Once both sides of the body become symmetrical, undue stress is removed from the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, and excretory systems.
There are many types of asanas performed based on the different positions such as:
- standing asanas
- sitting asanas
- forward bends
- back bends
- reclining asanas
- prone asanas
- kneeling asanas
- supine asanas
In this article we will be exploring the standing asana called the Mountain Pose or tadasana.
Tadasana or Mountain Pose
The mountain pose or tadasana is a fundamental pose that provides the proper alignment for other standing poses. It helps correct any posture problems that may have developed, while restoring a natural state of balance to the body and mind. Some important things to remember while preparing for the Mountain pose is to allow your skeletal system to support the body. Sense that your ears are over your shoulders, shoulders positioned over your hips, hips over ankles. Stand as though you have grown an inch. Pull your shoulders back slightly, down and away from your ears. Splay your toes and press them into the floor.Stand erect, with legs hip-width apart and feet parallel. Place half of your weight onto your heels, the other half onto the balls of your feet. Feel you big toes pressing down.
- Allow your thighbones to move toward your hamstring muscles in the back of your legs. Feel your kneecaps lift.
- Draw your hips inward by compressing them as well as your buttocks.
- Feel yourself lifting out of your waist. The shoulders relaxed and down, the chin level with the floor. Retract your chin slightly to feel a gentle lengthening in the back of the neck.
- Pull your lower abdomen in and up. Lift your sternum and broaden your chest.
- Inhale deeply, filling the lungs. Keep your arms by your sides, palms facing the thighs, fingers pointing down.
- Gaze ahead, hold for 8-10 breaths.
Caution: The neck, lower back and knees are three sensitive areas of the body that should be carefully protected when doing standing poses. The neck and lower back should be kept as relaxed as possible during the pose, lengthening without over stretching. The knee should be bent like a hinge and not twisted for added rotation.
- How to Comfortably Sit Cross Legged in Yoga
Many of us take sitting cross legged on the floor for granted. However, are we in perfect balance and alignment when we sit on the floor. Find out how to sit correctly and for long periods to practice yoga, pranayama or meditation.
- Corpse Pose, Shavasana for Complete Relaxation
In today's fast-paced world, taking time to relax is the greatest challenge. Even if we find time to exercise and do yoga, we rarely find time for complete relaxation. The corpse pose or shavasana, a yogic relaxation technique can be done at any time
Benefits of Standing Asanas
Routines usually begin with standing asanas and are an important part of yoga. We spend most our waking hours standing and walking around, hence it makes sense to start learning to do it correctly.
There are many benefits of performing standing asanas:
- strengthen leg muscles and joints
- increase suppleness and strength of the spine.
- Arteries of the legs are stretched, increasing the blood supply to the lower limbs
- prevents thrombosis in the calf muscles
- tone the cardiovascular system
- the lateral wall of the heart is fully stretched, increasing the supply of fresh blood to the heart.
- Tones the buttock muscles (see locust pose)
- Build strength overall strength, coordination and flexibility.
- Improved body alignment and poise
- develops a feeling of well-being and comfort.
The purpose of the Mountain pose or tadasana is to stand as firm and erect as a mountain. The Sanskrit word 'tada' means mountain and 'asana' means pose or posture. Most people do not balance perfectly on both legs, leading to many ailments. Performing the mountain pose gives rise to a sense of firmness, strength, stillness and steadiness.
Resources for Further Practice
- How to Improve Flexibility of Tight Hamstrings with ...
Did you know that tight hamstrings can cause many injuries, poor posture, inhibit movement, and back pain? Learn how to loosen your hamstrings with yoga and improve performance in sports and daily life.
- Yoga Poses for Legs
Our legs are the most important parts of the body. They support our body weight, help us walk, run, swim, stand and be active in our lives. Yoga is a great way to maintain muscle tone of the legs.
- Yoga Poses for Hips
The hips and buttocks bear the weight or the human body and determine its balance. It is important to strengthen and ensure good muscle tone for easy movement and flexibility in daily life. Learn about some of the yoga poses that can benefit the hip
Sushma Webber (author) from New Zealand on December 27, 2012:
Thanks Rajan, glad you found the article useful.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 26, 2012:
Really useful information. Thanks. Voted up.