Tadasana may not look like much, but keeping your body active and aligned is hard work. It might look like you’re just standing there, but Mountain Pose — Tadasana is an active pose that helps improve posture, balance, and calm focus. You have to be aware of each part of your body and the role that it plays in stacking your bones and keeping your spine long. You can even break a sweat if you engage your leg muscles as strongly as possible.
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. It is the pose from which every other standing pose in your practice is born! Since this pose looks so simple, there is a temptation to disregard its importance or rush through it. Instead, make sure you get it a least one really attentive Tadasana at the beginning of each practice. So, it’s important to learn how to do it correctly.
It’s a great way to check in with your body and set yourself up to be mindful of your alignment in all your poses. 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. In fact, the basic alignment for mountain pose carries through to many of the other standing (warrior I, for example) and inverted (handstand) poses you’re going to do.
Benefits of Mountain Pose
A correctly executed Tadasana will use every muscle in the body. It improves posture and strengthens of legs> When practiced regularly it 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.
Tadasana steadies the mind and body, bringing a calm focus to the practitioner. Establishing the habits of mountain pose will go a long way in helping you improve your body awareness and posture. 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.
How to Do Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
- Come to stand with the big toes touching.
- Lift up all your toes and let them fan out, then drop them down, creating a wide solid base. You can separate your heels slightly if your ankles are knocking together uncomfortably.
- Let the feet and the calves root down into the floor.
- Engage the quadriceps and draw them upward, causing your knee caps to rise.
- Rotate both thighs inward, creating a widening of the sit bones.
- Maintain the natural curves of your spine.
- Tone the belly, drawing it in slightly.
- Widen the collar bones and check that the shoulders are stacked over the pelvis.
- Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and then roll them back to release your shoulder blades down your back.
- Let your arms hang naturally with the elbows slightly bent and the palms facing forward.
- Your neck is long, you chin is neither tucked down nor lifted up, and the crown of your head rises toward the ceiling.
- Once you have checked all your alignment points, take five to ten breaths to hold yourself in this position.
Mountain Pose for Beginners
Take a block between the thighs. The block should be turned so that the short end faces the front. Squeeze the block with your legs and roll it slightly backward to feel the engagement and rotation of the thighs. Take several breaths this way. Then remove the block but replicate the action of your thighs as is the block was there. You don’t have to use the block every time, but it helps to remember what rolling it back felt like.
- 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.
- 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.
Mountain Pose for Advanced
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!
- 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.
- For a greater challenge, close your eyes in the pose.
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.