In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Rocket Yoga practice, the standing asanas are practiced after Sun Salutations. In order to facilitate your practice in this section of the sequence, there are some general principles that you must apply.
In standing sequence, we can group the postures as symmetric and asymmetric. Asanas like Padangusthasana and Padahastansana are examples of symmetric asanas, while other postures like Utthitha Trikonasana and Parsvottanasana are examples of asymmetric postures.
The symmetric asanas are focused mainly in opening the hamstrings – in order to lengthen this group of muscles in a safe way, we have to mindfully engage the front of the body, especially the quadriceps. When the quadriceps are active, the hamstrings will relax and this will ensure a safe stretch. In order to properly activate the quadriceps, it will be very important to transfer your body weight toward the balls of the feet as you bend your body down, getting your hips in line with the ankles.
The other group – asymmetric postures – works on the hamstrings, different groups of muscles around the hips, and other muscles at the front, side and back of the leg. In order to get into these types of asanas in a safe way, the quadriceps have to stay active as well. Something particular about asymmetric asanas is the position of the legs. When your legs are separated, you want to work into the subtle action of pulling the legs back into the hip socket. Another way to visualize this is to imagine that you want to scissor your legs together like you are trying to fold the mat between your feet. This action, most of the time, is achievable by rotating the front leg outward and the back leg inward, but without moving the feet. On top of this, it is very important that you always keep most of your body weight on the back foot – this will ensure that you deeply open the hip of the back leg and will keep your front knee safe.
Apply these techniques as you practice your standing asanas to help you prepare you for the deep hip openers of the seated postures.