It might look like you're just standing there, but Mountain Pose — Tadasana (tah-DAHS-uh-nuh) — is an active pose that helps improve posture, balance, and calm focus. Its name comes from the Sanskrit words "tada" (meaning "mountain") and "asana" (meaning "pose"). Tadasana is the foundational pose for all standing yoga postures and full inversions, such as Handstand and Headstand. It is the pose from which every other standing pose in your practice is born! The alignment, muscle movements, and mindset you learn in Tadasana are applied every time you do a standing yoga pose. So, it's important to learn how to do it correctly. Once you understand the proper form of Mountain Pose, it will be easier to gain and maintain the alignment for all other standing poses and inversions.
Benefits of Mountain Pose
A correctly executed Tadasana will use every muscle in the body. It improves posture and, when practiced regularly, can help reduce back pain. This pose strengthens the thighs, knees, ankles, abdomen, and buttocks. It is also helpful for relieving sciatica and for reducing the affects of flat feet.
Breathe and all will be revealed; love and all will be healed. This is yoga.
Tadasana steadies the mind and body, bringing a calm focus to the practitioner. Practicing the pose with steady and smooth breath will help relieve stress and improve concentration.
Due to the balancing nature of the posture, do not practice Mountain Pose if you are currently experiencing headaches, insomnia, low blood pressure, or if you are lightheaded and/or dizzy. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Press your weight evenly across the balls and arches of your feet. Breathe steadily and rhythmically. Draw your awareness inward. Focus on the present moment, letting all worries and concerns fade away.
Press your big toes together (separate your heels if you need to). Lift your toes and spread them apart. Then, place them back down on the mat, one at a time.
- If you have trouble balancing, stand with your feet six inches apart (or wider).
- Draw down through your heels and straighten your legs. Ground your feet firmly into the earth, pressing evenly across all four corners of both feet.
- Then, lift your ankles and the arches of your feet. Squeeze your outer shins toward each other.
- Draw the top of your thighs up and back, engaging the quadriceps. Rotate your thighs slightly inward, widening your sit bones.
- Tuck in your tailbone slightly, but don't round your lower back. Lift the back of your thighs, but release your buttocks. Keep your hips even with the center line of your body.
- Bring your pelvis to its neutral position. Do not let your front hip bones point down or up; instead, point them straight forward. Draw your belly in slightly.
- As you inhale, elongate through your torso. Exhale and release your shoulder blades away from your head, toward the back of your waist.
- Broaden across your collarbones, keeping your shoulders in line with the sides of your body.
- Press your shoulder blades toward the back ribs, but don't squeeze them together. Keep your arms straight, fingers extended, and triceps firm. Allow your inner arms to rotate slightly outward.
- Elongate your neck. Your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles should all be in one line.
- Keep your breathing smooth and even. With each exhalation, feel your spine elongating. Softly gaze forward toward the horizon line. Hold the pose for up to one minute.
Modifications & Variations
Since Mountain Pose is the foundation for all other standing poses and inversions, it's important to learn the correct alignment. Often, this means changing habitual patterns of alignment in your body. Standing up properly can take some getting used to! Try these simple changes to learn the pose correctly:
- If it's difficult to balance with your feet together, stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Gradually step your feet closer together as you gain balance in the pose.
- Women who are pregnant should widen their stances as much as necessary to feel stable.
- Beginners can practice the pose backed up against a wall. There will be a slight curve in your lower back, but your heels, buttocks, and shoulders should gently touch the wall. Keep your head away from the wall, keeping your ears in line with your shoulders.
- For a greater challenge, close your eyes in the pose.
- Your arms and hands can be placed in a variety of positions. To learn the correct alignment, keep the palms facing inward. To open the chest and shoulders more, turn your palms forward. To calm your mind and find center and balance, place your palms together in prayer position at your chest (this is called Anjali Mudra).
In order for the alignment of Tadasana to translate to the rest of your standing and inverted yoga postures, it's vital to get this basic pose right. Here are a couple of tips to help you stand up straight:
- Work the pose from the ground up. Notice and align your feet, heels, arches, and toes. Then, bring your awareness to your ankles. Continue upward to your shins, calves, and thighs. Find alignment in your tailbone, pelvis, and belly; and then in your collarbones, shoulder blades, arms, and neck. Finally, extend the pose through the crown of your head.
- To find your center of balance, slightly lean your whole body forward, then backward; then to the left, and then to the right. Realign yourself so that your ears, shoulders, hips, and heels are in a straight line with your weight even across both feet.
- To find the neutral balance of your pelvis, imagine your pelvis is a bowl filled with water. Tip your front hip bones forward (your butt will stick out) and the water will spill over your front thighs. Tuck your tailbone and round your low back and the water will spill over your back thighs. Practice tipping and tucking a few times to find the neutral balance of your pelvis — where the "water" will remain steady and not spill.
- Check and correct your alignment every time you come into the pose throughout class.
- To learn the lift and inner rotation of the thighs, place a block between your thighs, above the knees. Squeeze the block and roll it slightly backward, engaging and rotating your thighs.
Stand Up Tall
You can practice Mountain Pose many times throughout your normal day: While brushing your teeth, standing in line, or riding the elevator. You can even practice it while walking, running, or doing the dishes! Once you have a hang of the correct alignment, you may find yourself standing and sitting straighter throughout your day with reduced back pain and a calm, clear mind.