Standing asanas strengthen the legs and ankles, bring flexibility into the hip joints and prepare the body for more challenging asanas. By practising these postures we can learn how to move our awareness downwards into our energy centre and the earth. The focus is not on how quickly you transition or how many repetitions you do or how far into a posture you can go, but on the quality and awareness of movement and control – go slow – allow breath and feeling to find the asana within you rather than moving into a preconceived and rigid idea of how you think it should look. Once familiar with the sequence and grounded in the asanas you can repeat blindfolded or with very soft vision.
From Tadasana lift hands over head as you continue to elongate legs from the pelvis and root the feet into the earth. On an inhalation continue elongating both arms and legs, on the exhalation rotate the pelvis and trunk forward (approx. 30-degree angle) as the knees bend towards a right angle. The pelvis first rotates backwards then scoops forward. Arms stay inline with the body. Allow the feet to take the support of the body and keep arms elongating upwards, floating ribs back.
2 – VIRABHADRASANA II
Keep the right leg at a right angle as the left leg steps backwards. Straighten the left leg with the outer left foot rooted into the floor, toes slightly turned towards the front of the mat – keep the outer left foot rooted into the floor. Pelvis faces the left side of the mat. Right arm extends out in front at shoulder height, left arm behind. Gaze of the eyes towards the right hand. Head, trunk and tailbone stay vertical, sitting bones downwards with a slight scoop of the pelvis. Elongate through both arms, both feet rooted, lift the posture up and out of the pelvis, grow from the pelvis in all directions.
3 – PARSVAKONASANA
Keep both legs in the Virabhadrasana II position. Reach right arm towards the front of you keeping the right side of the trunk open and allow the body to also move with the arm. Stay rooted in the feet, particularly the left foot as the centre of gravity shifts. Keep an upward rotation around the naval and chest, don’t collapse or rotate the body towards the floor. Once fully extended, release the right hand and arm towards the floor in front of the inner right leg. Stay rooted in the feet. Continue to rotate the body over the right thigh. If bringing the right arm to the floor isn’t available, either use a support or place the right forearm lightly on the right thigh but keep the energy in the feet and legs not the forearm. The left arm can first of all trail behind as in Virabhadrasana II to help keep the chest broad and the upward rotation of the trunk. Then continue to elongate left arm upwards keeping the broadness of the chest and, if available to you, towards the front of the mat alongside the left ear forming a complete extension from left foot to hand.
4 – TRIKONASANA
Keep the naval and chest revolving upwards and straighten the right leg rooting both feet into the earth. Don’t think being lower to the ground means a ‘better’ posture. Bringing the body a little higher can help the upward rotation. Left arm extends vertically upwards and right arm downwards keeping the chest broad. Stay rooted in the feet and don’t let the trunk turn towards the floor. Gaze of eyes can look towards the raised left hand. Bring the breath equally into the trunk particularly to the left side of the body to help soften.
5 – PRASARITA PADDOTANASANA
Fold the body forwards into a central position between the legs. Both legs wide apart and straight, the feet turned out parallel with one another and the edge of the mat. Hips stay inline with the feet. Root equally into both inner and outer edges of the feet in order to support and strengthen the inner leg and knee. Hands to outer ankles, elbows wide. Elongate from the pelvis into the feet. The back of the thighs elongate backwards and upwards, the pelvis rotates so the sitting bones elevate and allow the trunk and head to release downwards with gravity. If the head touches the floor, bring the legs closer together so the head moves away from the floor. If the head rests you have nowhere else to go with the body and will prevent any further elongation of the trunk.
6 – VIRABHADRASANA
Start turning the body back towards the right leg, turn the right foot back towards the top of the mat and start bending the right leg towards a 90-degree angle, the left foot slightly turns towards the top of the mat with the left leg staying straight and outer left foot rooted. The front of the pelvis turns towards the front of the mat. Root the feet to centre the hips and pelvis and bring the trunk upright. Arms elevate upwards, using the elongation of the arms to lift the pelvis and extend the trunk. Scoop the pelvis, elongate the trunk and head upwards.
7 – VIRABHADRASANA III
Stay anchored in the left foot and start moving the arms and trunk forward keeping the right leg bent. Bring the left foot a little closer to the right as you move the centre of gravity over the right foot. Then like a car jack, extend the right leg straight in order to elevate the straight left leg away from the floor and inline with the hip, left toes point down, leg parallel to the floor. The arms, trunk and left leg are all in alignment elongating in opposite directions from the pelvis as the right leg elongates into the earth. Release into Tadasana to begin the sequence on the other side.