Mantra: I Am Steady
Exercise: Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
I attended the Burning Man Festival a few years ago in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. A high percentage of Burning Man attendees spend massive amounts of time and energy creating projects and pieces for this extravagant show and tell. I noted a particularly yogic theme central to this festival: that which rises must pass away. This is also the core teaching of a Buddhist meditation technique called Vipassana.
During the course of the week, the temporary community marvels at the infinite and radical creativity of their fellow artists, practices true loving kindness, and celebrates the absolute freedom of expression. The year I attended, an architect had constructed an extraordinary, massive wooden structure that cost him a quarter of a million dollars to build. At the end of the week, participants gather around these phenomenal structures and watch as they are burned to the ground. At the festival's close there is no physical trace left.
This week the world witnessed a massive natural disaster in Haiti. Thousands were killed and a capital city was destroyed. I watched several video clips that were posted by witnesses. Several of them cried, "the world is ending," and in many ways, aspects of their world did end. I am very pleased to see the United States immediately responding to this tragedy by sending support, resources and medical care.
What can we learn from this? How will we be prepared when our world shakes and maybe even begins to crumble?
The yoga posture Tadasana mirrors the reverent stillness, innate strength, majestic power and relaxed stability associated with mountains. Mountains endure the most extreme of weather conditions, they host travelers of every kind and they continue to persevere.
Many physical benefits result from the proper practice of this pose, including:
- improving one's posture
- reducing flat-footed conditions
- strengthening thighs, lower back, abdomen and ankles
- relieving sciatica
1. Begin standing with your feet together and your big toes touching.
2. Lift and fan all your toes, then drop them down creating a wide solid base.
3. Let your feet and calves root down into the floor.
4. Engage your quadriceps and draw them upward (your knee caps should rise).
5. Rotate both thighs inward and tuck your tailbone in alignment underneath your sacrum.
6. Engage your abdomen, drawing it in slightly.
7. Widen your collar bones and make sure that your shoulders are parallel to your pelvis.
9. Keep your neck long, the crown of the head lifting toward the ceiling, and your shoulder blades pressing down the back.
It may seem like you are just standing there, but bringing the body into alignment (whether you are standing or sitting) is hard work. The alignment for Tadasana pose carries over into many of the standing and inverted yoga postures.
While you are standing in Tadasana, observe your breath rising and falling. Observe sounds rising and falling. Watch each moment rise and fall. Surrender yourself completely to this inevitable reality of our existence.
This practice may draw you deeper into a sense of presence and gratitude. You may find yourself so incredibly grateful for the time that you do have, the life that you do have, each breath that you do have, the potential of experiences that you do have, the freedom to create most anything that you would like, etc. Carpe Diem. Be a steady witness. Be a mountain through every rise and fall of life.
"If the sun refused to shine, I'd still be loving you. If mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me." ~ Led Zeppelin
Wishing strength, nourishment and safety to those affected by the earthquake in Haiti...