Samastitihi: Standing up in this World

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By Justin Casteel

In yoga, there is a pose called “mountain pose”.  Mountain pose is normally overlooked and seen as a transitional stance or as the beginning to a sequence.  But there is deep symbolism in this pose, and together, perhaps, we can explore it’s significance.

Mountain pose in Ashtanga Yoga is called “samastitihi”.  This means “to stand up tall”.  I think this is a powerful concept.  When you stand on your yoga mat, stand with poise and grace.  Stand with the feet engaged, with the mind alert, and a feeling of length in the spine.  Standing up tall, we create a feeling of lightness, physically and mentally.  When you stand with the body aligned, the stresses on the nerves coming out of the spine are lessened and the diaphragm is put in a more efficient position for respiration.

Standing up tall is also a chance to re-evaluate your normal, habitual standing posture.  Most people stand unconsciously.  Sometimes, the weight is shifted over one foot or the other, or maybe an individual will prefer to lean on a stationary object for support.  Some people stand with the weight more toward the heels, and some stand with the weight toward the toes.  None of these are bad, per say, but they indicate a mental shift in a direction, and, unchecked can lead to imbalance in the physical body and in the mind.  Imbalances are brought into the light by the power of our attention.  This is the power of Samastitihi; this is the power of standing tall.

To perform Samastitihi, stand with the feet very close or with the big toes touching.  The outer edges of the feet should be paralell and the weight evenly balanced over the entire foot, from the ball of the foot, to the heel, to the “ball” of the pinky toe.  This is the “triangle” of the foot- standing here reduces postural stresses all through the rest of the body.  Keep the knees “unlocked” but the kneecaps “lifted”.  Having the knees locked disrupts the natural system of curves through the body and can have echo effects anywhere, but most commonly increases the lumbar curve.  Keeping the kneecaps lifted ensures the muscles of the thigh are engaged- we don’t normally use the quadriceps in standing, and they can lose strength because of that.  Make sure the hips are drawn under the shoulders.  Sagging in the lower back throws off the delicate balance in the pelvis’ relationship with the head.  The chin is level with the floor, shoulder blades apart, and the palms pressing together with the thumbs resting against your sternum.

That seems like a physical breakdown of what is described above in psychoemotional terms.  But for yoga, and specifically for Samastitihi, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Stand in that posture for a few moments, making sure the posture is correct.  Check in with your feet, knees, hips, spine, head, and hands.  Then, once you have the basic posture, take a few breaths and “feel” your body from the inside.  Notice if you feel more alert, more relaxed, centered.  Even if you don’t practice yoga, standing up tall and paying attention to how you stand can help unravel postures and patterns that lock you in to inefficient behavior.  This simple standing, alert and alive, will change things deep inside you.  All that is required is to stand.

Namaste!

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Inspiration Corner

  • When our only reality becomes emerged within an “exaggerated importance “of material wealth we feel a certain lack and so, we desire more and more to fill this void.  In truth the material riches of this illusive reality we have created cannot fulfill a spirit robbed of the unseen treasures that are life’s true gifts.  May Peace, Light and Love surround you and yours always, D

  • Sometimes it is our fear and need to know the outcome that keeps us from stepping outside of our comfort zone and grabbing hold of the opportunities that offer us the greatest potential for growth.

  • The cycle of life begins with the innocence of pure acceptance, becomes entangled within the insecurity of doubt only to rise from the mire blossoming into the radiance of knowing and wisdom.

  • Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.

    Saint Francis de Sales

  • Listen, for within the whisper of the wind and the soft rustling from the leaves of the trees lie the wisdom of long forgotten truths.

  • Listen, for within the whisper of the wind and the soft rustling from the leaves of the trees lie the wisdom of long forgotten truths.

  • Life offers us many opportunities.  However, to truly experience the potential we must first be willing to choose and embrace the possibilities.

  • The color of one’s skin and the beliefs they hold are simply the cloak one wears and the staff they carry as they travel life’s journey.  What connects us all like family is not found in the outside appearance but rather in the light from within, which is the brilliancy of our individual Beings.

  • How often have you asked, and then when the very thing you have desired is offered you hesitate to grab it?  Perhaps the time has come for you to recognize the abundance that is within your grasp.

  • It is important that you take responsibility for your life.  After all, it is you who created your experiences.

  • Be happy, be healthy and be whole, for your tomorrows are created by the choices you make today.

  • Learn from the past, hope for the future, but always live in the now.

  • The only real obstacle in your life is the one you believe you cannot overcome.

     

  • Learning to love unconditionally is the key that will unlock the door to understanding your true life’s purpose.

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