Click here for illustrated Standing Postures
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The standing poses provide us with a strong foundation for our yoga practice and our lives. They are vigorous, demanding postures that call us to attention and help us find our own strength and determination. In a physical sense, the standing poses are very strengthening and tonifying for the body, especially for the legs and abdomen. Mentally and emotionally, they also strengthen us by increasing our stamina, our ability to remain focused and alert, our sense of confidence and valor, and our ability to act with intention and precision. As a yogi becomes increasingly comfortable and skilled at the standing postures, the yogi also learns how to maintain a sense of ease and calm even during such demanding postures.
The more conscious vitality you can bring to a standing pose, the “easier” it becomes. A leg that is truly straight and rooting into the mat provides much more support than a half-forgotten leg that has fallen out of our thoughts. Each standing pose calls heavily upon certain muscles, and less heavily upon others. By learning to use all our muscular resources, no areas are dissociated from the posture and neither are there areas working overtime. Because they require so much strength and poise, the standing postures are also a critical time to consciously include your breath and your thoughts to help support you.
Steady, stable breathing is an important ally to the standing postures. Keeping the breath even and balanced helps to be sure that you are not working too hard (and that you are working hard enough). Observing the changes in the breath can help you to know about how hard to push yourself or how much to relax yourself. Ideally the breath is always strong and comfortable. If the breath lulls off into the unconscious breathing that most of us do all day, then the chances are likely that the mind has also wandered elsewhere. If your breathing becomes heavy and belabored (or stops altogether!), you are pushing too hard – which also forces the mind away. Evened breathing balances our vitality and our ease, and helps keep our minds on the pose and in the moment.
The standing postures are all expressions of very valiant and noble body language. Allow this expression to seep into your experience of the posture and fill your thoughts with the optimism and strength that your body language conveys.
Through regular, dedicated practice of the standing poses, a yogi will develop increased strength, vigor, vitality, stamina, focus, courage, and self-knowledge. These postures create a strong physical foundation, by fortifying our connection to the earth; and also a strong spiritual foundation, by fortifying the union between breath, mind and body and by teaching us about conviction and dedication.
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