Standing yoga poses and Their Benefits

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Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Tadasana is a beginner level standing yoga pose and is basically work with your breathing. Being the foundation of all standing asanas, it helps in gaining initial sense of balance. It involves standing in an accurate posture. To perform Tadasana, slightly open your legs apart with hands hanging along the body. Don’t forget to focus on consistent breathing
There are proven benefits of this yoga asana:

  1. This standing asana helps to develop a perfect posture.
  2. This pose involves coordination of limbs, hence it greatly helps in balancing.
  3. Tadasana focuses on lower limbs. It strengthens knees, ankle and feet.
  4. Tadasana benefits in overcoming flat foot.

All of the standing Yoga asanas focus on knees, ankles and feet. So, anyone suffering from injuries in these parts of the body should avoid standing asanas.

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Urdhva Hastasana focuses on the torso. It targets  belly, arms and shoulders. It involves stretching arms sideways, raising them upwards and joining them over the head. This standing yogic pose also improves balance and coordination as both upper and lower limbs become functional in it.

The yoga posture helps in:

  1. Improving strength and flexibility of the arms and shoulders.
  2. Enhancing the balance of your body.
  3. Reducing belly fat.
  4. Improving digestion.

Balance is not something we think much about in our daily lives, but as we age, it becomes incredibly important to have good balance to prevent falls and injuries. Improved balance can also help in your yoga practice, in other physical activities, and in daily life.

The problem is improving balance can be a bit of a catch-22. You struggle to balance so the postures are frustrating, but if you don’t practice those postures, your balance will never improve. Here are six standing yoga poses to improve your balance.

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

It may not seem like much more than standing, but Tadasana is a great way to find your balance. By feeling where your weight is balanced on your feet and elongating your spine, you will improve your posture which, in turn, improves your balance.

You can also get even more balancing benefits out of the pose by doing it with your eyes closed.

2. Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Credit: Anna Coventry

The key to getting the most out of this is really paying attention to every part of your body.

Start at the ground and feel where weight is concentrated on your standing foot. Now move up your standing leg and feel the muscles engaged with a micro-bend in your knee. Notice where your hips and pelvis are? Are they level and tucked under slightly or is one side sticking out?

Make sure your spine is straight and your shoulders and head continue along that straight line. You can also challenge yourself by changing the position of your arms or even closing your eyes.

3. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)

It’s not easy, but this posture will help you notice where your weight is and help you make sure your hips are in line and your body is straight. If your hip is jutted out or your butt is too far back, you’ll lose your balance.

But when you get it right and can balance, you’ll see how your body should be aligned to stay strong. If reaching your toe is too challenging, you can still get the benefits of this pose by keeping your leg bent and holding on to your knee.

4. Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)

When done well, it looks effortless, but Dancer Pose not only requires balance but also requires strength, which is important for balance. The pose works the muscles of the back, legs and core.

Additionally, to do Dancer Pose successfully requires keeping your hips squared and facing forward and also making sure that one is not higher than the other. This strength and proper hip alignment are both useful in improving balance in the long term.

5. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III)

This challenging balancing pose requires the engagement of not only the standing leg, but the entire back body, including the shoulders, back, buttocks, and legs.

On top of that, the only way to successfully hold the pose is by feeling the body lengthen from fingertips to the sole of your foot and by knowing exactly where your hips are and making sure they’re on a square plane.

While you may not replicate this pose in your daily life, it will help you balance better when you’re standing upright.

The first in a series of our guide to the asana poses looks at the standing position.

by Sandra Shama Kanpur

When I first started practicing yoga, I really appreciated how my teacher pointed out the specific physical, mental and emotional benefits that one reaped from practicing a particular group of asanas.

Typically, there are 10 groups of asanas: standing, balancing, back-bending, forward- folding, hip openers, inversions, corestrengtheners, twisting, meditative and relaxation. In this series, I will go into depth about each group of asanas referring to the physical, emotional and mental benefits as well as its relation to our chakras.

The word asana means yoga postures. Traditionally, asanas are held for a certain amount of time — from a few seconds to a few hours. On average savannas are held between two and three minutes.

Besides being held steadily, they should also be held comfortably. No pain should be experienced while holding the postures or in the hours or days that follow.

Benefits of Standing Poses

Standing poses have tremendous benefits for strengthening and stretching all group muscles in the legs, particularly the thighs, hamstrings, gluts, calves and ankles. These muscles are some of the largest muscles in the body, which contributes to burning of stubborn fat and toning.

Standing poses provide the practitioner with ‘grounding,’ which is the ability to connect deeply to the earth and thereby cultivate stability in life. This includes your basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and safety, as well as your more emotional needs such as letting go of fear. When these needs are met, you feel grounded and safe, and you tend to worry less.

The Chakra

Standing poses work predominately on the First (root) Chakra, known as Muladhara. It is located at the base of the spine and is the root of your being. It establishes the deepest connections with your physical body, your environment and the earth.

The Muladhara — which breaks down into two Sanskrit words: Mula meaning “root” and Adhara, which means “support” or “base” — is responsible for your sense of safety and security on this earthly journey. Balancing this chakra creates a solid foundation for opening the chakras above. Imagine that you’re laying the foundation for a house in which you’re going to live for a long time.

Imbalance

If there is an imbalance in the root chakra, you may experience anxiety disorders, fears, or nightmares. Physical imbalances may manifest as problems in the colon, with the bladder, with elimination, or with lower back, leg, or feet issues. In men, prostate problems may occur. Eating disorders may also be a sign of a root chakra imbalance.

To bring balance into your root chakra, practice some of these poses regularly and consider looking into crystal healing therapy — go for the reddish crystals.

Sandra Shama Kanpur is a Kundalini yoga teacher and founder of Yalla Yoga

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