How Standing Poses Can Realign the Mind
It’s known that alongside the many physical benefits yoga has to offer, a regular practice may also increase brain power, reduce stress and improve mental health.
Let’s look at yoga as more than just an exercise for the body but also a meditation for the mind.
“One feels light in the body and the mind acquires agility”
Develop a strong mindset
While standing poses are ideal for aligning the body, we are both enforcing chakra alignment and developing discipline within the mind. Like many challenges in life, standing postures may feel difficult when beginning. Remember that committing to yoga has many benefits and will eventually enable us to feel good and light with a sense of absolute presence. You may be surprised how far your resilience and commitment can take you.
Learn to breathe
The correct practice of standing poses teaches us how to support ourselves while also correcting any injuries. This will lead to the growth of more advanced postures in time. You’ll notice yourself gain more flexibility, breath, and enjoyment within the postures. The mental effect enables discipline, strength and clarity within other areas of life. Setting the intention to incorporate this thinking in your day to day may encourage you to breathe through any hurdles that life often presents.
Alignment for your health
Standing poses are vital for developing correct spinal alignment, changing postural habits and strengthening our core. When practiced regularly they also promote spinal elasticity, take away backaches while toning and removing any stiffness in the leg muscle. Whether you have aches and pains from spending long hours in the office or you’re simply exhausted from spending your days bending over to pick up the children’s toys, these poses may just work for you. Setting time aside in the morning to incorporate standing postures will be the first step towards a lighter feeling in the body.
Get started with these 4 basic standing poses
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana):
As the foundation of all standing poses, mountain pose is a great way to begin your practice while also good to use as a resting pose. Head erect, shoulders back, even weight through both feet, legs and buttocks firm. This pose encourages improved posture.
2. Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1):
The first of the three warriors. From a high lunge position with the knee bent, engage the legs to the ground down through the feet, and inhale the hands up from the bent knee. Use the arms to draw the torso back slightly. Make sure the right knee is directly over the right ankle. From there ensure the back foot is slightly turned in and raise the arms above head at shoulder-width apart or press the palms together keeping the arms straight. Breathing smoothly for 4-6 breath cycles either looking straight ahead or up past the extended fingertips. This pose is great for opening the heart chakra while also strengthening the shoulders, arms and back muscles and stretching the thighs calves and ankles.
3. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2):
From a wide crescent lunge position, turn the back foot to 90 degrees so the outside edge of the back foot is parallel with the short edge of your mat. Maintain a 90-degree angle with the front knee and spread from the chest the arms out at shoulder height. Looking at a point directly over the front fingertips. Hold this pose, again, for 4-6 breath cycles. This pose will encourage increased stamina.
4. Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana 3):
From mountain pose, step the right foot a foot length forward and shift all your weight onto this leg. As you exhale, lift the left leg up and out, hinging at the hips to lower the arms and torso down towards the floor. Look down at the floor and stare at a point for balance. Reach out through the left toes and the crown and fingers making one straight line. Breathe and hold for 2-6 breath cycles. Release the pose by inhaling the arms up to lower the leg back to the floor and step both feet together back into mountain pose before repeating the pose on the opposite side. As well as improving balance and posture, this pose will tone help tone the abdomen.
Health notes to remember
It is encouraged to practice on an empty stomach. However, if you’re like me and require the little energy boost first thing in the morning, a piece of fruit or some juice or tea is okay 30 minutes to an hour before practice.
Remember this is your practice. Don’t overexert and extend yourself, particularly if the pose feels uncomfortable. If pregnant, do not stand for prolonged periods of time. Avoid locking the joints as hyperextension will lead to skeletal wear. If you have high or low blood pressure or suffer from any heart issues, ensure not to have the arms overhead for long periods of time.
These postures have wonderful benefits that can be enjoyed by everyone without pushing the limits. Be aware of how your neck feels in standing postures and only take it to where is comfortable for you. Breathe through these poses and aim to improve over time by coming back to your practice regularly.
Written by Akosua (Charmaine) Abotchy
Charmaine is a traveling blogger from Manchester, UK and is passionate about social justice and holistic well-being. Aspiring to become a journalist and researcher, Charmaine is currently working on a scholarship to pursue her career.