By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
The term “Yoga” itself can be translated as the merging of the individual with the Divine Consciousness. When we consider the benefits of practicing Yoga, the first thought that may come to our minds may not be one of independence, but of spiritual attainment and the merging of the consciousness that underlies the fabric of the universe. However, similar to the practice of Buddhism, a Yogic path ultimately frees the individual from the suffering that arises from the dependency on external circumstances, situations, substances, or people to create happiness.
Some of these external circumstances may include having ample time to spend with your friends and family, or even the time to meditate daily in a beautiful environment. For instance, do you find yourself perturbed if some one is beeping their car horn outside your window when you are trying to meditate? Do you feel sad, depressed or lonely if you are unable to spend time with your friends or family because you have to work on Saturday evening in order to make some extra money? As you can see, the list of circumstances that are less than ideal is almost endless.
This external dependency on people and particular places, or on substances such a prescription pain killers and mood altering drugs, is the root cause of much consternation and suffering for many people. One way to become free of the constraints of dependency on external circumstances is a consistent practice of Yoga asanas, pranayama exercises and meditation techniques. When all of these Yogic exercises and techniques as practiced daily, or at least several times a week, you will slowly be able to release your dependency on external factors, in order independently sustain your own happiness.
* Tadasana or Mountain Pose
Tadasana is a deceptively simple Yoga pose. This pose requires you to stand on your own two feet with perfect alignment (hopefully!) and equally distribute your weight between both feet. It also requires you to slow down and stand still for a period of time. Just the process of slowing down in our hyper-speeded up, virtual world can create a feeling of anxiety in many of us. Like many Yoga practitioners, you may find that standing quietly on your own two feet, with no external stimuli to keep your mind occupied, can generate anxiety.
Breathing fully and deeply if you experience any free floating anxiety and unrest in your body and mind is the first step to witnessing your own dependency on external stimuli, in order to better manage your thoughts and emotions. As you become aware of your dependency on people, circumstances, substances, and the unending variety of stimuli in our society that many of us use to help manage or repress difficult thoughts and emotions, you will become more able to independently sustain your well-being by engaging in activities that are nurturing to both your physical and mental health.
Breathing deeply and fully while you stand in Tadasana is a very effective Yoga exercise for feeling independently grounded on your own two feet. Tadasana is also a foundational pose for the Sun Salutations and the sequence of standing postures that are frequently practiced in most Yoga classes. To practice Tadasana, come to the front of your Yoga mat and stand with your feet flat on the mat and your feet gently touching. Lift each toe, starting with the little toe of each foot, and place your toes consciously back on the Yoga mat, one at a time.
Feel the ground beneath you and begin to notice any mental tapes playing in your head. Are you becoming bored or restless very quickly? Bring your awareness to your breathing. Are you holding your breath or breathing in a shallow manner? If so, compassionately elongate your breath so that you are breathing fully and deeply by inhaling completely, and then pausing for a moment, and exhaling completely. Feel the sensations in your own body. Are there memories or experiences that are painful or difficult arising in your conscious awareness? Are you at peace with these difficult experiences?
If not, you may wish to take some time after your Yoga practice to journal your thoughts, in order to integrate them more fully into your present day understanding. You may even wish to offer the difficult experiences that have arisen in your awareness to a sacred fire in your mind’s eye so that you may be released of those memories. When you have completed your practice of Tadasana, bring your hands to Prayer Position and bow your head to the independent light of your own heart before continuing on with the rest of your Yoga practice.
© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division