I inserted key takeaways from my first five days of journal entries to expand upon the three benefits listed in the manual (page 33).
Teaches basic principles of alignment: Not just my feet but, all of my body parts were trending with gravity. I articulated it as “soaking downwards”. It supported me in feeling grounded from a source all throughout the body and not just from my feet. The first day, I kept returning to the reminder to not lock out my knees. I would adjust after receiving the internal reminder but my habit persisted. From doing it up to 20 minutes at a time, there became pain in my lower back. I came to realize I was arching my lower back too much instead of tucking my tailbone. The alignment principle can be cued in Tadasana and reminded to students in other poses such as lunges. On the first day, my hands felt like they had to be slightly adjusted. However, I came to realize it was just me being antsy and critical. I know because, the next day, my hand position felt comfortable and in alignment without actually being attributed to its position. I just felt calm surrounding the issue.
Improves posture: It’s becoming default for my shoulder blades to drop in and down now.
Develops witness consciousness: The first day, my dog walked up and licked my hands a few times. My witness consciousness detected the bliss I felt from being loved by him while in a traditional yoga pose. The second day, I considered how awesome it was for my dog to witness me meditate. My witness consciousness felt a sacred oneness with him. It intensified when I slowly came out of the pose, opened my eyes and saw him staring at me with focused eyes. A couple of days after that, while in the pose with my eyes closed, I remembered that image of my dog watching me. I articulated it as “I loved coming back to the situation of my dog witnessing me meditate. It’s similar to the soul- a form of life that is full of love witnessing calm presence”. Just as a mountain, I noticed the birds and other sounds brought me such peace. I also noticed the peace I felt from letting my phone beep without impulsively adhering to it and staying in meditation. Consistent theme of experiencing more ease the longer in it. I linked stressful thoughts with clenching in the body when I noticed that the top of my right foot was clenching as my brain was turning. I was clenching in effort to help my balance. Another day, I noticed myself physically rock out of balance and return back to balance, similar to noticing thoughts during meditation, seeing them and returning to ease. One of the days, I witnessed myself notice the pauses between sounds from the washing machine. The very next day, I noticed the sound of passing cars and that I was specifically paying attention to the end just as the sound was fading away. A few days later, I noticed myself feeling a slight pain in the chest, made the conscious decision to breathe with it and then witnessed myself notice the passing of car sound in full from beginning to end. Noticed myself have gratitude with the feeling of being exactly where I needed to be in that moment.
The sixth day, I did Tadasana while waiting at the starting line of the Asheville Half Marathon. I got there early and essentially did Tadasana from 7:10-7:30. I focused on relaxing in the pose, reminding myself to loosen, my witness consciousness inquired, “where can I loosen”? My prior practice in the pose informed me to shake out the limbs. I focused on the meaning of mountain pose holding qualities of strength and confidence while waiting by myself.
The next couple days after the race, I discovered a new variation of Tadasana. It can be considered Tadasana on the wall or, how I implemented it, Tadasana laying down on a surface. However, muscle engagement is important to distinguish it from Savasana. It is interesting and quite profound to still have that muscle engagement and still cultivate relaxation as the feet are flexed. I journaled about surrendering to do this pose on my back as part of noticing what I needed after the race. It was also a good variation for me to do considering that my stomach and head were in pain. It is a good reminder to support students in doing poses on their backs when they are in pain. My witness consciousness detected the ease I felt from the contact between my back and bed. I also noticed myself recognizing my strength even while I was surrendering on my back. I felt at ease giving myself permission to surrender. It made me feel empowered that I can rest.
My final days in exploration, I invented another variation. It is Tadasana standing up with the elbows bent, so that the arms are at a 90 degree angle, and the palms are facing down. Using the standing desk at work and being in Tadasana during it showed me that a benefit of it is to prohibit other self-destructive alternatives as Tadasana improves posture. The variation takes the distraction from the hands away and also guides people to be reminded of the witness consciousness throughout their days at work when stressors may arise. Also, the variation can guide students to imagine their palms pressing into the ground surface as all other body parts are moving down with gravity. Imagining palms pressing into the ground surface also puts focus into pressing into the feet, bending the knees and tucking the tailbone. I would adjust the person in the photo below to support them in working the shoulder blades in towards the midline and down towards the feet.