Samasthiti or Tadasana helps us create awareness of our “normal” posture. It can help us realise the habits we have slipped in to, the strength we have lost; the tension we might naturally hold on to in order to try to keep ourselves upright.
Tadasana translates to mean mountain pose whereas Samasthiti means “upright” or “equal”. In other words, to establish a sense of power and relaxation in a dynamic yet soft way. Tadasana and Samasthiti represent a kind of “proforma” for all the standing poses. What we do in these poses, we try to recreate in most of the other standing postures in some way.
I think it’s important to exaggerate the “tensioning” initially to get a clearer idea of what needs to be experienced in the body. Although it looks essentially like a simple standing pose, it can feel strong and challenging. However, once things are established, it’s important to relax. To maintain the “bandha” and the muscle length, but to also be mindful of sthira and sukha – to be firm, yet calm. and focussed.
For this variation:
- Stand with your feet hip width, toes forward, neither pigeon nor splayed. Lift your toes. Spread them, grab the mat/floor gently with each one equally.
- Equally divide your weight between each part of each foot – sides, balls of feet, heels.
- Feel as if you are trying to create more space between your feet (ie ‘stretch mat apart with feet’). At the same time feel as if you are trying to bring your inner ankles a little closer towards each other. Notice how this feels in your calves and how you already feel stronger and more stable.
- Bend knees ever so slightly but imagine you are trying to straighten them.
- Bring tailbone down and ever so slightly forward. Align the front of your hips – the bony bits or iliac crests – with your heels, This lengthens the spine and engages mula bandha or your core muscles naturally. It’s also completely the opposite of where the front of most people’s hips are placed these days due to our sitting culture.
- Bring fingers to touch, round out your upper back and lengthen the front of the body by lifting the sternum (breast bone) towards the ceiling. Do not stick your ribs out, do not squeeze your abs tight.
- Lift elbows towards the ceiling but push armpits down towards the floor. This is another action that engages your core naturally which means you can still breathe naturally…
- Adjust your head so you don’t look like a tortoise! Chin down towards throat (without dropping the head forward) so the back of the neck is long, throat (front of neck) also long. Imagine you are a puppet on a string with the crown of your head being gently lifted up towards the ceiling. This can sometimes be interpreted as thrusting your chin or chest forward. Have a look in the mirror if it helps. We don’t want to squish one thing in our efforts to stretch or lengthen another thing.
- Lastly, just bring your weight forward to the front of your feet ever so slightly so that you feel your toes have to grip a little to stop you from falling. This helps to engage the front thigh muscles and stabilises strengthens knees.
- Finally. Relax, soften, but try not to lose the sense of stability and power you have created.
You can practise aspects of this pose anywhere and anytime – for example, in a queue at the bank or the supermarket, particularly if you have a sore back…
* Rolling our shoulders “back” in an exaggerated way is not natural and will affect breathing which in turn affects our whole physiology. This is because for most people, the ribs will naturally flare and the diaphragm becomes inhibited. Taking shoulders back in an exaggerated way also has a negative impact on core stability.