Stay Strong In Standing Poses
In many yoga classes standing poses make up about 60-70% of the class – and for that reason it is essential that you practice these poses with solid technique and alignment.
The foundation of all standing poses start with the foundation of your body – the feet!
Problems with our feet can have a huge ripple effect on the rest of the body because they are literally the foundation upon which our skeleton lives. The alignment instructions below can be applied to any standing yoga poses – and while they sound detailed, its important that you don’t strain to maintain alignment and become tense. It can take some time for this alignment to feel natural, but with practice it will not only improve your practice, but also your posture throughout the day.
When you are in yoga, ( or any time for that matter ) it is important to evenly distribute your weight on the four corners of your feet. The four corners are underneath the big toe mound, the baby toe mound and either side of the heel. By distributing your weight evenly you give the rest of your body the stable and balanced foundation it needs. You also want to active the arch of your foot by lifting your toes away from the mat, once you have activated the arch, keep it active and slowly lower your toes back down to the mat.
Moving up to the legs, imagine that you are drawing your feet together without actually moving them, and notice how that activates your inner thighs. The inner thighs are often a muscle group that stays inactive unless we consciously work to engage them. Not only will this start to tone your legs, but it will also help you to draw your energy towards the midline of your body. Drawing the energy in, is an essential part to finding your strength in standing poses. Gently lift your knee caps up, without locking through the knee. This action engages the quads.
Next, think about your core. Align your pelvis so it is neither tilted forward or backward, but balanced in a neutral position. Subtly draw your belly button in and up – without force. This is a gentle engagement of the abdominals, but it is not a ridged, contrived action. From here gently lift your sternum skyward, and allow your shoulders to descend towards the floor.
As we have worked our way from the bottom to the top, from the feet we now arrive at the head. Gently draw your ears back, and very, very subtly draw your chin to your chest about 1mm. Lengthen through the crown of your head. From this position you are perfectly balanced, rooting down into the earth, and lengthening up towards the sky.
Finding proper alignment in your standing postures will give you a sense of strength and ease that are a huge part of the beauty of the practice of yoga.