Around the world in asana #3

Tadasana and Urdhva Hastasana in the Dutch tulip fields!

Ready for some color? Well here it is, a very colorful third edition of around the world in asana! On today’s blog I’ll talk you through Tadasana (Mountain pose) and Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute pose). I was really struggling with the pictures for this blog though, for these poses aren’t the most exciting ones to take pictures of. These poses, especially Tadasana, are about very subtle movements and so I felt that the setting for the pictures was – even more than usual – very important.

It wasn’t long after my friend from the US – who definitely knows her way around a camera – suggested to visit the Dutch tulip fields, that I realized this would make the perfect setting for Tadasana and Urdhva Hastasana. We went to Noordwijkerhout, a place in the Netherlands in the middle of the ‘Bollenstreek’ (Dutch word for tulip fields region). Early April was the perfect time of year and even for someone who’s used to seeing the flower fields from the train every year, cycling through them on a sunny day was an amazing experience!

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Me and my bad ass mountain bike

Tadasana and Urdhva Hastasana

As said, on today’s blog I’ll take you through Tadasana (Mountain pose) and Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute pose). These poses are generally combined at the beginning of a practice and together they’re part of Sun Salutation A. Both poses are ‘grounding’ poses that strengthen the leg and back muscles and form a good foundation build your practice on. They’re also great to return to after series of poses. I (and with me millions of other yogi’s) use the combination of Urdhva Hastasana to Tadasana often after a physically intense combination of poses to help find the breath, neutralize the body and to become aware of any differences in it (both psychical and mental). Some people like to close their eyes as well when they’re in Tadasana (or moving to Urdhva Hastasana) to focus better on the subtle changes in the body. Though I usually do this too, I sometimes feel a little bit light headed and shaky when I do this, so on those days I just pick a solid point in front of me to gaze at.

Tadasana

So, Tadasana. Picture a tall mountain with a peak that reaches for the sky and that has endured any type of weather for thousands of years, yet remains peaceful and unchanged from the inside. Now stand up straight and imagine you have the same qualities as the mountain I just described. Chances are that you’re already well on your way to a strong and powerful Tadasana pose.

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Breaking down Tadasana

As said, Tadasana is a subtle pose, but its foundation basically comes down to simply standing up straight with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms along side of your body. But, of course there’s more, so let’s do some fine tuning:

  • Toes are spread and the weight is evenly distributed over the whole surface of your feet. Closing your eyes and shifting your weight from the front to the back and from side to side can help the determine the ‘exact’ centre
  • Hands are active, meaning the fingers are stretched and reaching towards the floor
  • Pull your shoulders up to your ears, push them back en lower them (they’re in the back pockets of your jeans)
  • Bandha’s are engaged, so your belly button is pulled in towards your spine and then slightly up
  • Now push away from your feet, really lengthen the spine and reach with the top of your head towards the ceiling
  • Eyes are either closed or focused on a point straight in front of you

Urdhva Hastasana and breaking it down

Though Urdhva Hastasana could be considered a variation on Tadasana, it’s actually a separate pose that follows after Tadasana in a Sun Salutation A-series.  In order to get there, start in Tadasana. Now bring your stretched (active) arms up sideways.

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  • Arms are stretched alongside the ears
  • Hand palms are facing each other (or pressing against each other, depending on what yoga tradition you follow)
  • Shoulders are low and relaxed. If you feel that’s hard, just turn your pinky fingers in a little (inward rotation). You’ll feel your shoulders opening and lowering. You can also create a little more space between your arms.

As a variation on this pose you could also bend backwards a little. Be careful though (especially in the beginning of your practice) not to force anything. When you’re going for a back bend, make sure to keep you chest lifted and length in the spine. The bend comes from high up your spine.

Well, that’s it for the third episode of around the world in asana. I hope you enjoyed it and as always, if you have any questions, remarks or want to share your story, please do contact me either through the comment box below or via social media (on the right side of the website). I would be very happy to hear from you!

Lots of love,

Jantine

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