Stand your ground with samasthiti
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on February 3, 2015
Whenever I was nose-to-nose with someone, I never knew what to do with my arms.
During a face off with a boss, a friend, a family member or some stranger, my body was a bothersome appendage.
I dropped into one hip, crossed my arms over my power center, explored the interior of my pockets, popped arms akimbo or found a wall for support. Sometimes I’d scratch.
Now, I practice samasthiti.
I first learned about applying this foundational yogic principle from Miami yogi Rina Jakubowicz. (Check out more at www.RinaYoga.com.) Samasthiti transforms every yoga pose into a practice of active awareness and engagement of the body.
For me, samasthiti is now about balanced strength and stability when I must speak my truth. The center line of the body, the sushumna, is aligned allowing for a free flow of energy that grounds and liberates.
Following Rina’s lead, I practice my own samasthiti, and this prepares me to stand in strength in any situation:
- I stand with my toes touching, heels an inch apart.
- I press all four corners of my feet into the earth.
- I lift my knees and engage and inwardly rotate the thighs.
- I imagine two handles on either side of my pubic bone to lift the lower abdomen.
- I pull in my ribs for alignment with my hips.
- I open my collarbone and push down my shoulder blades.
- I drop my arms to my sides.
- I lower my chin so it is parallel to the floor.
- I imagine my crown lifting to the sky, and I grow.
- My gaze is soft, and I create space between my top and bottom teeth to slacken my jaw.
- My tongue tip is just behind my front teeth at firepoint.
This is more than Mountain Pose.
Imagine plank, and start from the ground. Push and ground both the hands and toes into the earth, and push the heels back as if the back wall is the ground. Internally rotate the thighs and feel the sacrum release. Lift the abdomen and align the ribs. As the hands and arms are engaging the floor, open the collarbones and slide the shoulder blades down the back. Elongate the neck and open the crown.
Then, extend samasthiti into forward bends, Warriors I and III, Crow and Tree Pose. Even when sitting in a chair, plant the feet to the ground and the buttocks in the seat. Apply samasthiti up the body.
Yet, my favorite pose in samasthiti remains the interpersonal face off. I don’t stand in a stiff “ten hut.” I balance the body, tasking my attention to my feet, my legs, my abdomen, my ribs, my shoulders, my head.
It is in the hips-squared poses that samasthiti has been the most valuable for me. When I am confronted by a situation that demands I be true to myself, I am vulnerable, exposed. In samasthiti, I reconnect to my core of strength.
Practice standing strength, preferably in a full-length mirror. Step to samasthiti, set a timer for five minutes and maintain eye contact. In wave after wave, check samasthiti principles from feet to crown.
Remember this stability, intentioned and aware without being rigid, and hold your ground.