Learn to Stand on Your Own Two Feet With Yoga
Standing on your own two feet sounds like one of the simplest of tasks, but it is something I find challenging my students again, and again. Making contact with the ground in a firm and balanced way doesn’t always happen automatically for a number of reasons.
Firstly, we all have our own habitual ways of standing, and the longer we stand the more pronounced these usually become. A teacher of mine used to say, “Let me see your best grocery store line stance!” And there we’d all be, leaning on one foot or the other, maybe a heel rocked back; a slouch though the torso. When we get tired we tend to alternate putting more pressure on one foot, then the other, when in reality we would get heaps more energy if we would just push down into our feet evenly.
Secondly, these habitual patterns create and reinforce muscle and skeletal imbalances. In turn we feel more fatigued, and this spreads throughout the whole body.
Thirdly, our footwear can be truly horrendous. Much of it fails to give adequate support to our feet and legs, some of it tips our pelvis and torso at odd angles (high heels, anyone?), and they can reinforce or exacerbate imbalances already present.
But, never fear…yoga is here, and it provides an easy solution in the posture known as Tadasana, or Mountain Pose.
This posture is basically standing evenly on your own two feet. Try it out (get outside in the grass if you can, it will make this exercise even more yummy):
Come to a standing position in your bare feet (important so that you can feel them.) Stand with your big toes, heels and ankles together; if this is very uncomfortable for you, try separating your feet about 6 inches, but keep them parallel. Allow your hands to hang down by your sides.
Begin to press your feet firmly into the ground. Can you feel each of the four sides, of each foot, touching the ground? Notice if there are any gaps, or if you are leaning a little more to one edge or another. Press down the balls of your feet and lift your toes; then spread them out as if they were fingers, and place them back down one, by one. Press fully into your feet again. Notice the sensations that come as the soles of your feet make contact with the earth; feel the energy that is being drawn up and into your body.
Notice what is happening in your legs as you press. Do you find a new firmness? An increase in energy? What has happened to the pelvis? Bring your awareness further up, and notice the position of your chest, shoulders, neck and head. Do you feel lighter? Straighter? Stronger? Take note of all these things and the way your entire body feels in its position in space.
In Kripalu Yoga we use the energy of moving down, to rise up; this is the foundation of every posture.
If you are new to yoga, welcome—you are doing it! You can continue your sadhana (practice) every time you are standing on your own two feet. May your feet always rest joyfully upon the earth.
Teal Marie Chimblo, RYT, is a certified Kripalu Yoga teacher and Visual Artist living in Gastonia, North Carolina. In addition to teaching yoga, and making art, she loves to write about yoga, meditation, and conscious living.