Learning Basic Standing Poses

Before I go further into the breakdown of a practice let’s talk about poses. This week I would like to share with you basic standing positions and their benefits.

All standing poses help bring balance back into the body.

Tadasana- Standing mountain pose


This pose is basically standing savasana (you know the final laying down position everyone covets) focusing on the subtle alignment in this pose helps correct posture over time.

Ukatasana -Chair Pose


This pose is a lot harder than it looks. I often tell students to pretend they are sitting on the edge of a chair but still remind them to reach up to the sky like they’re trying to hold on to the sun. It is excellent for strengthening the back arms and legs. It also helps protect the lower back if you inhale the navel towards the back of the spine (not shown in this diagram.)



This is a standing forward fold. It is perfectly ok to have your knees slightly bent in the back. This helps lengthen and stretch tight hamstrings as well as reverse blood flow towards the head.

Ardha Uttanasana


It is the same position as Uttanasana except on the inhale we place our hands on the shins, open the chest as if we are offering our heart to the earth,  simultaneously  lengthening through the crown of the head creates more space in the spine.  As we exhale and lower into Uttanasana we can then surrender more deeply into the pose.

If you begin with these poses, you will have achieved 1/2 of Surya Namaskara. The sun salutations.

The Breakdown of a Warm Up

Each practice begins with a warm up.  If your body is a vehicle the goal is not to rev your engine, but to slip it smoothly, silently and warmly into gear.

It should be so subtle and gentle by the time you’re deeper in the practice your energy raises to match your effort as you begin to flow.
The world is in a constant state of change doing yoga helps you ride your energy waves through it, calmly and wisely.  As if you were a surfer of your own energy.  The ocean is always  in motion. We must keep our bodies moving. When we do, we reset our vibrations and encourage balance and harmony. Your body is an instrument of peace.
So the most important thing to do when warming up is connect to your breath and drop in to the body. By that you send your awareness to the lungs, belly and heart beat. You do so by directing the breath to these places, down the spine over the belly and out through the feet.  Check in with your “self”, your pulse,  your vital energy.
Once you’ve dropped in (become aware of your body) beginner practices start gently working and area of the body. For example, the spine. An simple gentle way to wake up the back is by laying down and rocking your knees side to side.  These slow yet guided movements begin sending energy to and from this area.

Top yoga books, teachings and yoga instructors commonly recommend to start the practice with Surya Namaskar A (the sun salutation)

sun sal·u·ta·tion
plural noun: sun salutations
  1. a series of yoga poses performed in a continuous flowing sequence and intended to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles.

It is a series of poses designed to warm up the body and prepare it for yoga practice.  Some people like to do just 10 minutes of sun salutations in the morning it is a brilliant way to start the day!

Go ahead and give it a try, how may rounds can you do?
Spiritually, teacher Christopher Chapple says: Surya Namaskar is nothing less than the embodiment of the Gayatri mantra, a sacred prayer to the sun. “As we sweep our arms up and bow forward, we honor the earth, the heavens, and all of life in between that is nourished by the breath cycle,” he says. “As we lower our bodies, we connect with the earth. As we rise up from the earth, we stretch through the atmosphere once more, reaching for the sky. As we bring our hands together in Namaste, we gather the space of the heavens back into our heart and breath, acknowledging that our body forms the center point between heaven and earth.”