Supportive Yoga Pose of the Month: November 2014

Supportive Yoga Pose of the Month: November 2014

Uh…so what happened to October?  Anyways, November came in with a bang and cold snap!  Hope you had a great Halloween and you are looking forward to Thanksgiving (gratitude, pie, whatever!).  I’ve got two awesome workshops coming up!  There’s still time to register for my Teaching Yoga to Students with Larger Bodies workshop in DC at Lighthouse Yoga Center on Sunday, November 16th at 2:00pm.  I’m also super excited to be bringing my signature inversions workshop (for everyone, for wimps, for anyone who thinks they can’t do it, or hates the phrase, “just kick up”) to Brooklyn.  I’ll be teaching the workshop at Mala Yoga on Thursday, November 20th at 7:30pm.  Space is limited so please sign up in advance!!

For some reason, this month seems like a return to home base a bit for me.  I adore fall in NYC so maybe that’s part of it – I can really celebrate being “home”.  It might be one of the Instagram challenges I’m doing this month (#fallintoalignment) which, at least for now, is focusing on foundational yoga poses.  Who knows?  So when I put out a call for requests on the Supportive Yoga facebook page, and someone suggested tadasana (mountain pose) – hi Terry! – it seemed just right for this month’s pose of the month.  Nothing fancy, but so important.

Tadasana certainly looks simple, right?  We’re standing still.  On two feet.  What’s the big deal?  But there is so much going on in Tadasana if you do it “right”.  Let’s start, like my teacher, Tias Little, says, from the ground up.  The first thing I ask students to do in tadasana in classes is to bring the attention to the feet.  Where are you putting your weight?  Is it forward on the balls of the feet, towards the back on your heels?  Do you tend to roll out or roll in?  There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but this simple exercise can be the first step (pun intended?) to cultivating awareness of what’s going on in the body, which for me is one of the best things about practicing yoga.  In order to exaggerate whatever is going on in your feet, try standing on a blanket like so:

tadasana-on-blanket mountain pose

In addition to a little bit of a balance and therefore functional core strength challenge, the blanket will make it that much easier to find out what your tendencies are. It’s a super useful trick and one I really love for all standing balance poses.  Also – love taking super awkward pictures of my feet – I need a pedicure! 🙂

Once you’ve organized your feet, draw your attention to your legs.  Lift up through the quads and make sure you aren’t locking your knees.  Draw your tailbone long (in the direction of your heels) but don’t tuck it – that’s usually too much.  Take a deep breath in and find length in the torso but then check and make sure you didn’t do that by shrugging your shoulders up!  Externally rotate your arms (optional) and then close your eyes and breathe!

IMG_0470 IMG_0475 IMG_0492

I had a teacher who once said that if you weren’t sweating in tadasana, you weren’t really doing the pose.  And while I think that’s a little extreme, I do this that it’s a good reminder to stay engaged in the pose.  It’s really easy to tune out here, and that’s a shame because there is a lot going on in this deceptively simple pose!

If you’d like to play along, I’d love it if you’d post a picture of your tadasana on your social media outlet of choice!  Please tag #supportiveyoga so I can see all your beautiful poses!  Happy November and happy practicing!!

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