The first in a series of our guide to the asana poses looks at the standing position.
by Sandra Shama Kaur
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 ssanas 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.
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.
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 Kaur is a Kundalini yoga teacher and founder of Yalla Yoga.