The name of this pose really says it all: Samasthiti refers to steadiness and balance, both physically and mentally. As you stand in this pose you can feel the world drop away, the chakras line up and the chitta vrittis begin to quiet down. The weight of the body begins to find balance over the fulcrum of the grounded feet, and the bones begin to distribute the resulting rebound of energy up through the body.
Some traditions use the name “tadasana” for samasthiti, although they are slightly different.
In samasthiti your arms are a little more activated with fingers lengthening towards the earth. The bandhas are strongly activated as well, moving the breath higher up into the chest to energize the body in preparation for the sun salutations that follow. The gaze point, or drishti, is down the nose, rather than forward as in tadasana.
Mostly I notice the difference in attitude between the two poses.
I’ve always liked paying attention to the way a pose makes me feel, something I’ve always called its “attitude.” Sometimes it’s expansive, sometimes protective; some poses are joyful, others are introspective.
Samasthiti’s attitude is very alert, ready, a call towards action. Although it is still, there’s anticipation and a sense of almost excitement.
Tadasana’s attitude is more steady, grounded, unmoving and quiet—like if you pushed against someone in tadasana, it would be like pushing against a rock wall.
A push against someone in samasthiti would instead elicit an immediate controlled movement into surya namaskara, completely synchronized with the breath.
So, we could say, tadasana has the strong physical and emotional attitude of a mountain.
Samasthiti has an attitude of alert, balanced preparation for moving into your practice with full connected breath and controlled steady movements.
Of course, you might have your own take on this, and I’d love to hear it. Be sure to add your comments below!
Following are some additional details…as usual, download this tip sheet at the bottom of this post.
asana name (sa-maas-tee-tee-hee)
- sama = equal, balanced
- sthiti = steadfast, upright, established
- Brings you into the present, focused on breath and bandhas.
- Reduces chitta vrittis.
- Strengthens feet, legs and abdomen.
- Readies you for practice.
- can be done in a chair, as needed.
Although it’s not inaccurate to interchange the names of samasthiti and tadasana while you’re teaching or practicing, there are some subtle differences.
Certain traditions will favor one name over the other, and that will probably dictate which name you end up using.
But be willing to sense subtleties in the poses and create your own vocabulary around how each feels to you. That’s a completely valid way to explore these asanas and discover new ways of looking at them.
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