tadasana, mountain pose
Entering from tadasana, mountain pose, maintain your feet an equal distance from each other, front to back and side to side. If you tend to lean on one leg, it may not take equal strength to be balanced. Now press down from the ankle down and pull up through the entire legs. This should balance your hips, so simply lifting your perineum will pull the base of the spine downwards. Suck up through your spine, including your neck, while moving into the first vinyasa.
It’s very important to pull the shoulders down into their sockets while reaching up passionately through your fingertips. Focusing your eyes on your thumbnails while relaxing your forehead and tongue calms the mind while pulling breath into the lungs and keeps the nasal passages soft. On the exhale, maintain this, as well as your wide ribcage and strong legs, while gently firming the belly.
A variation to prep for forward and back bends (drop backs), as well as handstands, is moving the hands shoulder distance apart (some preggies keep our legs apart, though you might need to now) while pressing the flat of the palm towards the ceiling. Eye focus moves to above and between the fingertips. Make sure you counteract this greater bend in the upper body with equal strength in the lower body and reach with the hands. This will lengthen and firm the lower back, keeping it safe, while the upper, generally stiffer back learns to open. Have fun practicing tadasana, mountain pose!
While I’m doing yoga I try to ask myself, “am I really listening to my breath and practicing being, using all the strength, softness and focus I have, or am I just trying to look fancy?” That way I can take this honesty off the mat and ask, “am I really giving love, doing the best I can, or do I have some complex agenda?” To answer these questions honestly, it helps to trust that I won’t judge my answer, only learn from it. That way, if I do catch myself being Queen Poser, on or off the mat, I’m more likely to learn from it, not get all uptight. As a teacher I want to share with my students not only skills I’ve learned over the years of doing poses, but the joys of practicing humor, acceptance and love while trying to learn them. That way, together, we’re practicing having greater, more honest and passionate lives, as well as executing the next fancy yoga pose.
Being pregnant, or anytime you have a physically limiting condition, is a time to focus on seemingly simple, much traveled territory, and go deeper. Many of us begin our practice every day by going into Sun Salutations, but bypass its profound rewards in anticipation of the more “advanced” poses to come. Meanwhile, the riches in this movement are the premise for all to come! Here our breath is freed if we practice correct apana and prana (downward and upward energy), correct internal actions, or bandhas, will strengthen and align the body, while correct eye focus will calm the mind – all in the precise form that we will use in both forward and back bends, even handstand. You are even working on balance and building tapas, heat, heat, heat!