Top

Pathfinding

Tadasana: The Pose for Standing Witness

fizkes/Getty

Take a moment to stand upright. Do your best to stand as you normally do, without trying to find a “correct” posture. Close your eyes and notice what you feel.

One of the most common postures in a yoga class is tadasana: standing posture. We don’t always think or talk about it much, because it’s such a common part of life—standing on our own two feet.

One way I like to think about this posture is as “standing witness.” We often come to this pose after moving through a sequence or holding a different pose. In standing, we can pause to consider how we feel, how the body is receiving the practice.

We can also witness ourselves in standing. There are some surprising secrets for us that our standing posture might just tell.

Adjusting “Looking Down at My Phone” and “Good Front”

Take a moment to stand upright. Do your best to stand as you normally do, without trying to find a “correct” posture. Close your eyes and notice what you feel.

Check in with your shoulders, your jaw, your lower back, your belly, hips, knees, and feet. What is supporting your body in standing? Are your knees locked? Your lower back tight? Are your glutes activated or slack? Are your shoulders up around your ears?

What does this posture remind you of? Our emotional state is often reflected in the way we stand. Some of us lean our hips forward, so most of our weight is over our toes. The bum disappears under the body and the upper back curves forward—this is a “looking down at my phone” posture. It’s also a little slack, a little exhausted. The heart is collapsed in toward the back body. In this posture, we do not feel strong enough to be vulnerable and open our hearts.

Some of us thrust the chest forward. The stomach is tight and shoulders are broad—think of a military stance. This is the posture of someone who is approaching the world with a need to protect themselves, to put up a “good front.” There is no vulnerability here, and tension shows up especially in the neck, shoulders, and chest. The core is too tight all the time, which can lead to lower back pain and other issues.

[Read: “The Spiritual Meaning of Lower Back Pain.”]

Finally, some of us stand in tadasana with a slight twist to the body, like we are listing to one side or one shoulder is coming forward more than the other. This is a posture that can relate to trauma. There is an energetic feeling of trying to twist away from pain or a threat, thrusting a shoulder forward to protect the heart.

Let Your Posture Be Soft, not Rigid

With all this in mind, close your eyes in your standing posture. Point your feet straight forward so that when you bend your knees, they move straight forward in line with each other. Soften the knee joints slightly so they are straight but not locked. Shift the weight of the hips back so they are more over the heels than the toes, and allow your tailbone to nod back slightly. Arrange the ribs over the hips as if they were stacks of a layer cake, one resting right on top of the other. Let the shoulders relax naturally. And then lift your chin slightly, just until your jaw relaxes. You might move a little bit, sway slightly, loosen up. Let your corrected posture be soft, not rigid.

I also like to imagine here that I am suspended in water, or that all the joints in my body have a little space in them. How does it feel to stand like this, soft and balanced? It might feel very strange if it is not your usual pattern of standing. Notice if you can breathe any deeper. Stand witness to how you feel in this moment, and allow your tadasana to teach you something.

Stay standing and consider these ways to stay grounded.

Pathfinding

Yoga and mindfulness can be tools to living a richer, more meaningful life. Explore with Julie...
Read More

Continue your journey