Yoga for Beginners – Philosophy and Stance

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Yoga for Beginners – Philosophy and Stance

Yoga for Beginners Philosophy applies to how you do what you do rather than just doing yoga poses. Your understanding of the philosophy and practice of yoga is revealed in your approach to the most basic yoga poses – and the most basic of them all is Tadasana. It is the foundation yoga pose of all standing postures and its alignment and detail is seen in many other yoga poses.

Tadasana is an important pose for its own sake as it establishes an understanding of basic structural alignment, the complementary muscular activity, and the appropriate mental quality of being relaxed yet alert – its understanding is an indication of fundamental yoga philosophy and practice.

In yoga practice Tadasana is often rendered in English as Mountain Pose, which is not wrong as this posture has the qualities of groundedness and stillness of a mountain, yet a more direct rendering would be to call it Palm Tree Pose because its form is very treelike as it is practiced;

  • the feet, legs and tailbone are much like the roots of a tree as their energies are directed downward and into the ground as if the body was immersed in the earth from the lower waist down,
  • the spinal column grows out of the pelvic base in much the same way that the trunk of a tree grows out of the earth,
  • the ribs, arms and hands are like the limbs of a tree,
  • the neck is long and graceful, like the stem of a long stemmed flower,
  • the crown of the head and inner energies open to space like a blossoming flower and the fruit of authentic yoga practice
Yoga for Beginners with James Traverse
Yoga for Beginners with James Traverse

Yoga for beginners

Tadasana is basic yoga practice for both beginners and the most advanced practitioners of yoga:

– begin the practice of this yoga pose by exhaling fully such that you empty your lungs of all stale air and welcome a complete breath of fresh air – let your mind relax yet be alert to feel the flow of breathing and the sensations involved as these signal when each phase of breathing is complete;

– find the particular position that is appropriate for your feet as follows: place your feet side by side with the sides of your large toes and inner heels touching; if this position causes your knees to jamb, then separate your heels and large toes as much as necessary so that your knees are free;

– once you have discovered the appropriate position for your feet, ground them to the earth by first inhaling and lifting the toes and front half of one foot off the floor; then exhale and grind the heel of that foot into the floor as you stretch the front half long and wide while replacing it to the floor;

– pause and notice how the foot you just attended to feels – also feel the quality of the leg associated with that foot; notice how that foot and leg feels more awake and alive as compared to the one you have not yet attended to, and that if your other leg could speak it would say something like ‘how about me?’ as the intelligence of your body seeks balance;

– repeat the grounding with the second foot so that both feet and legs are engaged in a balanced way such that this contact to the earth is the fundamental base of this yoga posture;

– next inhale and assert a feeling of drawing your thigh bones up into your hip sockets; notice that this feeling invites the front thigh muscles to hug the bones and that engaging them in this way also lifts the kneecaps;

– as you exhale place your fingertips on your top front thighs and gently press your thighbones back until you feel significant weight in your heels , yet do not press the thighbones so far back that you have to grip the floor with your toes to maintain balance – feel for the correct place as the position where there is weigh is on all four corners of each foot [the four corners of your foot are: the inner and outer heel, the mount of the large toe and the mount of the little toe];

– pause and glance down the side of one leg; the alignment of your legs in this posture is a simple straight line whereby you position the long bones of your legs to be straight up and down to the floor with your hips directly over your knees, which in turn are directly over your ankles – this straight up and down postural alignment of the long bones of your legs passes the weight through the joints so that you stand on the earth, and, it also avoids hyper-extension of your knees, which can strain the knee joints;

– position your pelvis by putting one hand between the cheeks of your buttocks so that your index finger indicates where your tailbone is pointing, place the palm of your other hand on your lower abdomen, and then position your pelvis such that your tailbone points downward, exhale, feel how your lower abdominal area flattens somewhat and there is a feeling of energy grounding downward from your tailbone, down trough your legs and feet into the earth;

– at this point you have attended to the physical roots of this yoga position by means of the mindful placement of your feet, legs and pelvis; next you enhance the grounding via the energetic connection to the earth;

– inhale and grow your spine long by lifting your chest off your waist; exhale and come to full empty as you evacuate all the stale air out of your lungs; as you welcome a full inhalation let the backs of your hands come up in front of your face; exhale fully once again and gesture downward with your hands until your arms straighten to direct energy down to the earth as you allow a feeling of the roots of the pose being embedded into the earth [now let your arms and hands be passive for a moment];

– inhale again as you gently lift your shoulder girdle up, exhale roll your shoulders out, back and down – the shoulder blades do move toward each other somewhat, yet not so much that there is a pinching of the flesh between them; as you position your shoulders, engage your arms and hands again by gently stretching the long bones of your arms downward and position the palms of your hands to face the sides of your thighs – the hands are active as they are placed deliberately, yet there is no forcing, you simply are aware of how you have positioned your hands and arms;

– lengthen upward through your neck and project the energy skyward from the top back of your head; exhale; with another inhalation give particular emphasis to the length at the back of your neck – as you lengthen the back of your neck your forehead plate and the bridge of your nose both descend somewhat and there is an invitation to tuck your chin slightly; let this happen by keeping the back of your neck long as you gaze into the distance and allow the slight tucking of your chin to happen as you let your gaze fall just below the line of the horizon – if this movement tightens your throat swallow and allow your throat to find its natural opening;

– now allow your eyes to soften so that you are not looking to see; inhale, fill out this form of this yoga pose; then exhale, and allow a switchover from the localized attention to specific areas of your body to the global yogic feeling of being in an asana; your body knows how to breathe – let that happen, and allow your mind to be relaxed yet alert as this yoga exercise is maintained for a minute or more.

Tadasana is a mindful positioning of your body in a yoga pose and it is a challenging meditative yoga practice.

 

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About

James Traverse is a yoga educator and writer who communicates the direct approach to understanding your true nature. This experiential means, which is founded on a shift of attention from conceiving to purely perceiving, flowered principally out of James’ studies with his teacher, Jean Klein, who initiated him in the ways of Advaita Vedanta and Kashmiri Shaivism. His other influences include the works of J. Krishnamurti, David Bohm, Rumi, Adi Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Atmananda Krishnamenon and the yoga of B K S Iyengar, whose method he studied intensely for 15 years.

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James Traverse

Yoga Educator at Nisarga Yoga
James Traverse is a yoga educator and writer who communicates the direct approach to understanding your true nature. This experiential means, which is founded on a shift of attention from conceiving to purely perceiving, flowered principally out of James’ studies with his teacher, Jean Klein, who initiated him in the ways of Advaita Vedanta and Kashmiri Shaivism. His other influences include the works of J. Krishnamurti, David Bohm, Rumi, Adi Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Atmananda Krishnamenon and the yoga of B K S Iyengar, whose method he studied intensely
James Traverse
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