This is the first of a series that will review various yoga postures and will include anatomy and alignment of the pose. There will be suggestions to adapt the pose to make it less or more difficult. I’ve also included ‘PT Notes’ for those looking for ways to incorporate physical therapy and yoga postures into assessment and/or treatment of clients.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Deceptively simple, this posture is the foundation of asana. Understanding the subtleties of tadasana is essential for performing yoga. Otherwise, postures will just be physical shapes and stretches devoid of full potential.
Muscles Strengthened in Mountain Pose: All anti-gravity muscles of the legs and trunk.
Points of Body Awareness:
- Is your weight equally distributed throughout your feet? Your arches should be slightly lifted with weight equally distributed among the inner and outer edges of the heel and the balls of the big and little toes. There should be symmetry between the right and left.
- Are you hyper-extending your knees? There should be a very slight micro-bend in the knees.
- Is your spine in neutral alignment?
- Are your shoulders in line with your hips?
- Is your head lined up over your shoulders? If so, the chin will be parallel to the ground and the crown of your head will be lifting up toward the ceiling, lengthening the spine.
- Can you feel yourself being grounded or rooting down from the navel, through your legs and into the floor? Can you feel yourself rising up, lengthening from the navel, up through the spine toward the sky?
- Do you feel a sense of alert relaxation?
- Can you focus your attention on your breath?
To Modify: Mountain pose can be done seated but instead of the weight being evenly distributed throughout just the feet, distribute your weight equally among all points of contact: the ‘sit bones’, the back of the legs and the feet. This yoga posture can also be performed lying supine with the feet on a wall. While you won’t be working the legs and spine in an anti-gravity manner, you can still find optimal alignment and you can energetically lengthen the body in opposing directions.
To Challenge: Consider planks, handstands, and headstands to be advanced versions of tadasana. The bottom line with all these postures is to find optimal alignment and maintain the pose with a sense of alert relaxation.
Another interesting challenge for tadasana is the ‘Pez dispenser’ exercise. This is really an inquiry into how to find the ideal alignment of the hips. Place a block between the thighs. Roll the thighs back (externally rotate) to move the block forward. Roll the legs in (internally rotate) to move the block backward. As you do this, notice how the alignment of the feet, pelvis and lower back change. Experiment until you find the most optimal neutral position for your body.
PT Notes: All physical therapists should recognize instruction in mountain pose as essentially, standing posture re-education. Tadasana should go a step further than just physical alignment cues. There is an energetic aspect of feeling a sense of grounding and lengthening and there is a mental aspect of alert relaxation and focus on the breath.
I admit that I have at times rushed past the basics, especially when I sense that the patient or client is physically capable of doing more. But a yoga practice, as opposed to just postural re-education, will inform us and our patients of so much more than just physical knowledge.
Tadasana can change from day to day, even moment by moment, depending on what is happening in our bodies and minds. By ‘checking in’ with mountain posture before moving on to other yoga postures or exercises, our clients will be able to learn much more about themselves than just the ideal alignment of spinal curves.
More details can be found on Yoga Journal.
Click here to read more about author Lisa Minn
Did you like this article? Share it!