Mountain Pose – Tadasana Alignment in Restoratives

You may have heard Carmen and I cue, from time to time, to bring your body into a Tadasana alignment for restoratives.  What does this mean and how is this beneficial?  Here is the low down on this alignment cue.

The benefits of Tadasana alignment are calming and clearing for your nervous system, supporting the circulation of your blood throughout the body, and in that joints and muscles are in position where optimal healing can occur. It is the foundation pose for all yoga poses creating stability. The body feels the least amount of stress so that the mind can become a calm, balanced setting for deeper healing and connection with the self.

The Tadasana alignment is where the joints, bones and muscles are in their natural alignment according to your own body’s alignment.  This may not be the  textbook “perfect” alignment but it is exactly where your body is at the moment. If you come into a pose and it feels comfortable, and you don’t feel that you are adding any tension by holding the muscles, or you can stay calm and relaxed, that particular alignment is working for you. But if you become irritable or agitated, and feel intense sensation, that tells you to come out and reposition yourself or take a break.  Another indicator of the alignment being “off” for you is that your breathing changes from a calm, natural breath to faster, more rapid breath or a holding of the breath.  

You always have the permission to let yourself change position in a pose, come out completely or come into a different pose altogether.  Make these healing restoratives work for you exactly where you are at that moment.  Now go scale your own mountain!

The Breath
Straw Breath
Benefits: increase range of motion of diaphragm, aid in continuous and smooth movement of the breath, support complete exhalation and removal of toxins in the body, calming practice.
Props: narrow opening straw or just pursing your lips.

Begin in a comfortable position, either seated, lying down or even standing supported.  Inhale through the nose in a natural relaxed way, exhale evenly and naturally hrough the straw or pursed lips. The head position is neutral with the straw facing forward not down. A variation is to take the straw out for the very last bits of air releasing and exhale through the nose but it takes some practice to do this evenly.  Try 4-5 rounds at the beginning, returning to your natural breath between rounds.  

The Poses
Legs up the Wall Variation

Props: 1-2 bolsters, blocks, blankets, neck roll
Benefits: drains fluid from the legs, releases pelvic floor, chest and shoulder opener, back of legs get a gentle stretch.

Place one bolster horizontally on mat (for the knees) and one vertically (for the feet, ankes and lower legs). Arrange a triple-folded blanket horizontally (lumbar and thoracic spine area). Recline legs over the bolsters and lower the upper body on the blanket. Adjust so that the tips of the shoulder blades are right above the blanket. Add neck pillow under neck and move arms to Goddess position if comfortable for  your shoulders. Otherwise, they can go by your side or stack hands on top of your belly.  Cover pelvic area with a blanket or whole body and add a wrapy for shins so legs stay in Tadasana alignment. 10 to 15 minutes, dropping the weight of your body on the exhalations.

Straddle Forward Fold or Childs Pose

Benefits: calming, gently stretches lower back, nice transition from the days activities.  A good pose to do if you need a few minutes break from your daily work, easy to do and easily accessible.  Good for headaches.  Breathing is easier since muscles of the respiratory system are relaxed.
Props: chair, 2-4 blankets

Place blanket single-fold on chair draping down. Legs can stretch through chair or straddle or cross-legged.  Arms placed folded on chair in front of you. Rest forehead on arms. Tilt chin slightly toward your chest.  Close eyes. For comfort or lower back issues, sit on blanket, add rolled up blankets under knees if legs in straddle, or blocks/blankets under knees if cross legged. May add a blanket at sacrum for grounding.

Nesting Pose
Props: blankets, bolster

Benefits; Nurturing, sense of security, well-supported pose to regulate the nervous system, good for when you are feeling anxious, keeps body in alignment, supportive for the spine, hips, shoulders, head.  Allows for optimal healing and sleeping position. nurturing, sense of security, optimal for sleeping.

Create a big enough folded blanket to place between the knees to align the legs in Tadasana. Add a folded blanket to rest your top arm on. Recline on a side that is comfortable, resting your head on a blanket. A neck roll can go under the ankles for support.  Bolster can rest along spine for further support and grounding. Finally, cover yourself with a blanket from head to toes.  Sink down with each long exhalation.  Mantra to accompany pose “I am safe, I am supported”.