october/november spotlight on: foundation

Computer issues have prevented me from updating this site in a long, long while. In fact, I’ve had to rebuild the whole site from scratch. In hindsight, the experience has been an excellent lesson in detachment (but I’ll save detachment for another month).

A few weeks ago, in an independent bookstore that sells an unusually large number of books about mountaineering, I thumbed through one such volume and came across this sentence at the beginning of a chapter: “It starts with a mountain.” The yogic wheels started turning: Of course. It starts with a mountain.

Allegorically, having a strong foundation means grounding yourself firmly in something tried and true, something strong and timeless. (“Build your house on the rock…and the rains descended, the winds blew and beat on that house…and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” Matt. 7.24). Different religious paths liken strong foundations to unwavering faithfulness, and a deep, meaningful knowledge of your convictions. A belief founded in truth has the strength of a mountain.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana) is the foundational pose of all other poses in asana practice, what we know as the physical practice of yoga. There are elements of Tadasana in every single yoga pose. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes less so. Like grounding yourself firmly in your beliefs, in Tadasana you ground your feet firmly into the mat. Like standing strong and still when the storms of life descend upon you, you activate your muscles (quadriceps, abdominals, back, and arms) to weather the challenges ahead and protect your body from harm.

We sometimes get caught up in the more physically demanding yoga poses and forget all about our foundation, Tadasana. By committing to a strong foundation, you commit to a yoga practice that will last, long after you’ve rolled your mat away. It starts with a strong foundation. It starts with a mountain.

Guruji demonstrating Tadasana (or as Ashtangis call it, Samastithi)

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