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Making focus a habit will help you avoid slumps

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Mastering Tadasana (Mountain pose) can help you build a habit of focus that will improve your posture and also keep you from slumping in your daily life.

Mastering Tadasana (Mountain pose) can help you build a habit of focus that will improve your posture and also keep you from slumping in your daily life.

Often the first pose in a yoga class is the simplest — simply standing in Tadasana (Mountain pose). You are instructed to balance the weight on the front and back of your feet, firm the thighs, lift the torso out of the hip sockets, bring the shoulders back and down, and hold the head relaxed and balanced. It feels good and it seems easy.

Then your mind wanders a bit and something slumps — perhaps the shoulders come forward or the abdominal muscles let go. Once you notice, you correct the pose for a bit, but then once again you lose the pose.

In yoga, we say you always have to pose and re-pose. We are properly in the pose when we can keep our mind in the moment and in the body, but because the “slumping” is our habitual state, we fall out of the mindful pose whenever we lose our conscious intention. Then we have to re-pose — move into the pose again.

This pattern occurs over and over in yoga, and once we become aware of it, it is easier to see that it occurs in our daily life, in body and mind. One of the best places to practice “staying in the pose” is walking, which is a lot like moving in Tadasana. Learning the proper posture in Tadasana can carry over to fluid, easy, comfortable walking as opposed to the collapsed posture that we often have when we are walking with our attention on our thoughts, not our body.

The ultimate ideal in this, and life in general, is to get to the point that the mindful way is the habitual way, and that you stay “in the pose” most of the time, even when not focused on it, so the need to re-pose is less.

At first, it takes effort to be in the pose because you are working against your habits. However, by learning what it feels like to be in the right state (the pose) and learning to correct yourself when you fall out of it (re-pose), you can learn to comfortably be in the properly engaged state without as much conscious effort. You don’t have to strain to do the right thing. Better physical and mental habits become second nature, and, like Tadasana is meant to be, things can feel good and seem easy.

  • Jack Krebs in on the staff of the Yoga Center of Lawrence, 920 Massachusetts St. For more about poses and programs, call 785-830-9642 or visit yogacenteroflawrence.org.

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