Do you have goals for 2015? Resolutions? Are you rethinking your approach to an important area of your life? Chances are good that you are, because what better time to realign ourselves than at the beginning of a whole new year.
I have many goals for the new year, and I'm excited to share this one. Over the years as a practicing yogi, I've learned lots of poses, or asanas. I've learned both how to shape my body into them, how to teach others these shapes, and what these shapes are called ...in English. Because my teacher training program encouraged the use of English names only in order to make the poses more accessible to Americans, I have so far learned very few in Sanskrit. Various teachers at various studios I've attended used Sanskrit names repeatedly in class, and through that repetition, I picked up some. But I want to learn more, so...
My goal for this year is to learn a new pose in Sanskrit each week, and use the Sanskrit name in my practice and my teaching. Each week I will focus on a new pose, tell you the Sanskrit and English names, describe the physical shape and the mental benefits.
Why take on this task? Is it important to learn these poses in Sanskrit? Well, this is a question I've asked myself lots of times over the years, and obviously my answer until now has been "no, not really, not important enough." But I've changed my mind for one simple reason. Using Sanskrit honors the antiquity and wisdom of the practice. Honoring the practice is an important way to keep ourselves balanced within it.
So here's the first pose I will present in Sanskrit, as I get a head start on the new year! And I get a two-for-one because this pose has two names.
In this pose, stand balanced on your two feet together or hips-width distance apart, depending on which version allows the most stability and focus. Feel the four corners of each foot grounded into the earth. Engage the thigh muscles and turn them inward. Tuck the pelvis, and feel the abdominals engage. Lift the spine toward the sky, and pull the shoulders back slightly and allow the shoulder blades glide down the back. Relax the neck and forehead, and gaze forward.
Tadasana tests our ability to engage only as much as necessary, and focus on the simplicity of standing upright. It may help you understand when your desires are out of balance. For instance, if you stand in tadasana and find yourself wanting to move out of it immediately, ask yourself what would you rather be doing right now? If you'd rather be doing a push up or a headstand, you may over-desire movement. If you'd rather be sitting or lying down, you might tend to over-desire stillness. If you'd rather be checking items off your to do list, you might over-desire work. And so on. Tadasana teaches us to be here now in lightly engaged stillness.
Kambria Kennedy-Dominguez, Counselor and yoga teacher specializing in mental health, substance abuse and wellness.