Have you ever wondered why certain poses are grouped together in a yoga class? Yoga teachers know, in order to make the body feel good, they should keep similar poses together in each part of a class. When you know how to group poses yourself, you can lead a safer home practice. So which poses are similar? It all depends on how the legs (or, if you happen to be upside down, your hands) are positioned. The position of the legs and feet is the basis for the four family tree of yoga.
Leg Position Basics
Your hips can either be internally rotated or externally rotated. It can get a little confusing because many students are confused about proper alignment in poses. By knowing which family tree a pose belongs to, though, you will always know whether to think “internal” or “external” with your hips. The second critical element in leg positions is whether your stance is symmetrical or asymmetrical. This one is a bit easier to remember; just ask, “Are my legs doing the same thing or different things?” Based on those two factors – internal or external rotation and symmetry or asymmetry – you will know which tree a pose belongs to.
Family Tree #1: Tadasana or Mountain Pose
In tadasana, both hips are internally rotated. When you have achieved the “perfect” tadasana, your inner thighs will feel as if they are energetically rotating back behind you, and your shins will feel as if they are energetically hugging in to the midline of the body. Since the legs are symmetrical in tadasana, this family tree classification is “symmetrical internal.” Other poses with this position include: