Uncover the Symbolism in 10 Common Yoga Poses
If you have a dedicated asana practice, postures can tend to feel rote over the course of a lifetime. If you have a home practice, you may notice yourself doing the same poses in the same way, day after day. Yet like most things in life, whatever effort you put in to something, you get back tenfold. Infusing creativity into your yoga practice (whether you are a student or a teacher) can be the key to creating a lifelong practice that is sustainable, enlivening, and invigorating.
The poses hold within them many profound symbols and metaphors that can bring more magic and meaning to every moment spent in that pose. The next time you execute one of the following yoga postures, try going deeper by considering some of the symbolism inherent in their shape.
Probably the most common and easily identifiable mudra, prayer position can happen in just about any pose. Most yogis are familiar with this mudra as an indicator of gratitude, respect, or prayer, but try this subtle shift to get more out of it: rather than pressing the palms flat against each other, cup your hands ever so slightly. This creates a small space between your palms, into which you mentally and energetically place the seed of your intention or prayer. Holding that small space consciously creates space for blessings to enter your heart and your life.
Tadasana is the foundation for all standing poses. It is solid, stable, and profound—as you yourself can be when you inhabit all the possibilities of this posture. When you want to feel grounded and balanced, you can envision yourself as the mountain—standing tall, steady, and expansive. When want to connect to your potential, and the vastness of the possibilities ahead (in your practice, day, or life), you can see yourself as standing on top of the mountain. With your third eye, envision the clouds, the birds, the treetops out beyond you and below you. Everything is possible in this pose, and if you’ve ever done Mountain pose ON a mountain, then you’ve tasted the majesty available to you.
Vrksasana gives you a chance to align with the beauty and wisdom of nature by encouraging you to extend your roots downward, while reaching your limbs and heart upward toward something higher. The shape of the pose calls for a strong standing leg (tree trunk), and the dispersion of energy asks you to be both steady and flexible. If a strong wind tries to blow you over in this pose, rigidity can cause a limb to break. Going with the wind, while staying rooted in your power, will help you to dance with grace no matter what comes your way.