Technology creates an illusion of perfection, but perhaps we are missing out on the beauty of the universe by manicuring our imperfections. Perhaps by creating false stability we are actually desensitizing ourselves and removing a cue to a deeper understanding.
After a workout in the gym, instead of “stretching” I practice 15 minutes of yoga.
Over the years I’ve taken notice of what yoga feels like on the days I keep my shoes on, versus the days I practice in bare feet. Both are informative, but having bare feet allows more receptivity and helps honestly reflect your clarity of center.
The pose “Samasthiti (Equal Standing) is a command to attention, to stand in balanced stillness. It is the practice of standing with equal, steady, and still attention.” You may also hear this pose instructed as Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Mountain pose “is the posture that invokes Samasthiti. … They are the same.” (http://www.yogajournal.com/for_teachers/2431)
Asana Practice: Try doing Mountain pose in shoes, and then try doing it again in bare feet. Notice the difference. Perhaps your shoes, if they are orthopedically designed, provide support and allow you to feel balanced. Can you find the four corners of your feet in the shoes you are wearing? Are you able to press in to the ground? Notice whether your shoes encourage the proper spiral of your leg muscles?
[As an aside, this exercise is useful for determining whether your shoe choice is helping or harming you. I have known people to become both healed and severely injured simply by their choice in shoes. Don't underestimate the health impact of your shoe choice. It can make all the difference in the world.]
When experiencing Mountain pose in shoes, notice if the shoes drop your heels below your toes, or raise your heel above your toes. How does this affect the curve of the spine? How does this inform the lifting of your knee caps or the turning down (often called “tucking in) of the tailbone?
Take a moment each day to feel your balance in Mountain pose. Begin to allow different flooring, different shoes, etc to influence this pose.
Most of us stand every single day. Therefore, we can feel our body in mountain pose daily without much effort. For many lineages, this is the first asana taught. You can learn all of the key actions of yoga asana simply while standing. Feel your feet ground down, while energy shoots up and out of the spine. Feel your energy squeezing in towards the midline, while the shoulders and lungs expand. Feel how the energy of the body pools in towards the heart. With attention and focus, this one asana can bring you to the source….again and again.
Lesson Learned: Simply by standing we can experience the beauty and education of yoga asana. Practice the act of standing in attention everyday. Connect to source by feeling the directions of prana (or life force) move through you as you find focused awareness in Mountain Pose.