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Standing Poses

This is the first type of asana that one does in Ananda Yoga routine. Standing poses are exactly what the name implies: you’re standing on both feet

The Purpose of Standing Poses

Of the many functions of this broad family of poses, the most important ones in Ananda Yoga are that they help:

1. Improve the posture.

2. Center your awareness in the spine.

3. Promote a sense of overall bodily vitality, awareness, and integration.

Alignment and Technique for Standing Poses

Despite the great diversity in this broad family/ there are some important principles that apply to all standing poses. Foremost among these are the following three.

Spinal awareness: Physical awareness is addressed below. On a subtle level, always move from the astral spine; try to feel energy radiating from the astral spine to move the body into the pose and sustain it. This will be easier if you move gracefully and consciously. Of course, we want to do this in all poses, but it's particularly vital for standing poses.

Breath: Breathe slowly, deeply, and evenly as you enter, hold, and exit the poses. This not only makes the standing poses easier and more enjoyable; it helps you tune in to the subtle energies in the spine. Use your breath as feedback for the inner quality of your asana: if it's labored or uneven, that's your cue to exit or find an easier variation.

Legs: Keep your legs active at all times in the standing poses. Don't allow your weight to collapse onto your legs and feet; rather, focus on lifting up through your legs at all times. Then the standing poses will be easier and enable you to open the spine and upper body more effectively.

Following are a few details of physical alignment; they will help you practice the asanas with greater safety and benefit.


In most standing poses (other than one-legged balance poses), you'll want to distribute your weight equally on both feet, and equally throughout the part of each foot that touches the floor. Keep the inner ankles active to avoid collapsing the arches.


Remember that the knee is a hinge joint: it can extend and flex, but it is not designed to rotate (twist). All rotation of the upper leg should take place in the hip joint (a ball-and-socket joint, which is designed to rotate). Keep the knees facing in the same direction as the toes.

Avoid hyperextending/locking the knees (i.e., avoid positioning the knee behind a straight line from the ankle to the hip); keep them open and alive. When a leg is straight and bearing weight (e.g., trikonasana or padahastasana), you can increase knee stability by energizing the quadriceps (muscles on the top of thigh, especially the portion just above the knee) to lift the knee cap slightly. (If you are constantly lifting through the legs, as described above, this will happen automatically.) If you have a tendency to hyperextend your knees, tensing the quadriceps may push the knee backward; you may first need to retrain yourself keeping the knees slightly bent.


Many people habitually "sit into" their hips. That is, their weight collapses down on to their hip joints, often causing the pelvis to tuck under. If you have this tendency, you can counter it in standing poses by lifting up and slightly backward through the hips joints

Spine and Pelvis

In most asanas, the spine should be "neutral," i.e., it should retain its natural curves. (Note: We also call this position a "straight spine.") This gives its greatest weight-bearing capacity and protects its many parts, especially the intervertebral discs). This also is the position most conducive to the flow of prana in the spine.

A properly aligned pelvis helps distribute the weight of the upper body uniformly through the legs. It also promotes a long, straight, and open spine, which induces a freer flow of prana and makes the pose easier.

All this is easy to see in upright poses such as tadasana; it also applies to other upright poses, such as virabhadrasana or vrikasana—no tipping forward or backward, right or left. In non-upright standing poses such as trikonasana, water would of course spill out, but the pelvis remains in more or less the same alignment relative to the spine.

Upper Body

With your lower body providing a strong and steady-yet-dynamic foundation for the pose, lengthen up through your spine and broaden your shoulders and all around your chest. Your upper body should feel open and free, not rigidly held in place.

Cautions for Standing Poses

• Cardiovascular problems (including high blood pressure)/ practice mild variations, hold each pose for a short duration, and keep your hands below your head.


• Knee injuries/weakness, use caution, making sure knees are always in good alignment, and protected from rotation, hyperextension, and extreme stress.

• Spinal injuries, choose asanas carefully, do mild variations, and hold for just a short time. Concentrate above all on keeping length in the spine.

• Varicose veins, do not overdo the standing poses, especially if you feel a lot of pressure in the legs. Counter the effects of standing poses with inverted poses.




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