In most systems of Hatha Yoga, Tadasana(Utah-DAHS-uh-nuh), or Mountain Pose is seen as the most foundational pose in the entire practice.
Also known as samsthithi, or equal standing, this pose is essentially the simple act of standing up straight with upright and alert posture, but like so many things in yoga, the details are limitless, and the simplest things are often the hardest to master.
The alignment that you learn in Tadasana will translate into almost every other pose in practice. Sometimes in subtle ways, but often in self-explanatory ones.
Tadasana teaches us how to engage every muscle group in the body and how to articulate every joint complex to achieve a posture that allows energy and information to move freely through the body.
Most importantly, because Tadasana is a pose that directly translates into the basic movements and bodily positions of everyday life, it helps us to internalize positive patterns and retrain negative ones to remove the various strains on the body and mind created by inefficient posture.
Tadasana or Mountain Pose Contraindications
Tadasana is applied throughout the day, whether we are aware of it or not. But people with headaches, low blood pressure, insomnia or dizziness are advised against practicing the pose for long periods of time. Women who are menstruating and pregnant are advised to practice Tadasana with their backs against a wall.
How to do Tadasana or Mountain Pose
Stand at the front of your mat with your feet together. The big toes should be touching. Ideally, the heel should be touching as well, but for certain body types, it will be more comfortable to have them remain slightly apart.
If the balance is an issue, it is acceptable to have the feet hip-width apart at the beginning. After you start to master the posture, the balance will naturally improve, and you should be able to bring the feet together.
The most important part of Tadasana is the even distribution of the weight between both feet, and between the four corners of the feet themselves. Focus on the sensations occurring on the bottoms of the feet; the weight should be in the center of the heel, the outside of the foot and the balls of the feet, particularly the mound of the big toe.
Lift the toes up and spread them before placing them back down on the floor. Pressing down through the big toe mound and the outside of the foot will create a strong arch through the feet.
Engage through the quadriceps muscles at the front of the upper leg. This will lift the kneecap and prevent the legs from hyperextending.
Start to tilt the pelvis so that the tailbone moves down and slightly forward and the top of the pelvis moves back and slightly down. Maintain a neutral position in the pelvis so that there is a sense of gentle extension in the lower spine.
Expand through the chest and upper back at the same time. The chest should lift without puffing forward. Maintain as much length in the spine as possible. Try not to arch the back.
Roll the shoulders down and back. Try not to pinch the shoulder blades together. Keep a sense of subtle expansion through the upper back.
The arms will remain at the sides, held straight with gentle engagement through the muscles of the arm. Hold the head slightly back, with the chin level with the floor and the gaze straight ahead.
Breathe slowly and deeply through the whole trunk.
Maintain the posture and experiment with subtle changes in the pose to observe the effects they have on the body both physically and energetically.
10 Top Benefits of Tadasana or Mountain Pose
1. Tadasana teaches us how to do all the other Asanas.
The alignment cues and energetic principles that are learned in Tadasana translate to virtually all of the other Asanas in yoga. There are subtle changes in certain poses, but the bodily intelligence that you gain through practicing Tadasana will always be carried into other Asanas, even very complicated and difficult ones.
2. Tadasana teaches us to balance the weight and engagement of both sides of the body.
Our physical and mental health is affected by the way we sit, stand, and recline.
When we keep the weight of the body over one foot or engage the muscles of one side of the body more than the other, we create patterns that can eventually lead to long-term dysfunction. Tadasana helps us to become sensitive to, and ultimately correct, these imbalances.
3. Tadasana strengthens the feet.
In Tadasana, we pay special attention to the feet. Creating a strong arch during the practice of Tadasana can help to strengthen the feet in people who have flat feet. Even among people with normal feet, you’d be surprised at how strengthening the feet can help you to move more effortlessly in almost all situations.
4. Tadasana may help with back pain.
Learning how to align our pelvis and shoulder girdle brings intelligence, awareness, and mobility to the muscles that maintain the position of our spine. Practicing Tadasana can help us to move in ways that limit strain on the back and distribute the load evenly throughout the body when lifting objects or participating in strenuous activities.
5. Tadasana helps us to maintain balanced energy.
Our posture directly reflects our mental state. For instance, people who suffer from depression generally have a rounded back with the shoulders hunched forward. Learning to stand up straight with relaxed alertness will allow us to bring calmness and composure to our daily life. Tadasana helps us to cultivate energy without anxiety.
6. Tadasana helps us to breathe freely.
When the chest is chronically compressed, the respiratory system cannot function adequately. An upright posture allows for expansion of the abdomen and rib-cage in all directions which encourages the lungs to expand in kind. This helps bring air to all of the tissues of the lungs and allows efficient exchange of oxygen into the bloodstream.
7. Tadasana increases blood flow
When Tadasana is performed correctly, all of the muscle groups of the body are articulated and engaged without tension. This brings blood into each of these areas, which improves the efficiency of cellular function as well as the removal of toxins from the body. Though the process is subtle, learning to stand this way in daily life will strengthen and improve the function of our cardiovascular system.
8. Tadasana helps to improve our mood.
Enhanced breathing, increased blood flow, and an alert, responsive posture are all factors that affect our mood. Regular practice of Tadasana can help treat symptoms of mild anxiety and depression, especially when combined with a holistic yoga practice and a moderate lifestyle.
9. Tadasana teaches us about the subtle, energetic body.
Because Tadasana is a relatively simple pose that is immediately accessible to everyone with normal mobility, it allows to fine-tune and deepen our understanding of the body not only on a physical level but on an energetic one as well. A mindful practice of Tadasana will teach us to recognize how the energetic sensations and the flow of energy in our body mirror our emotional and mental states and vice versa.
10. Tadasana teaches us how to bring meditation into everyday life.
Tadasana is a powerful meditation pose because it helps us to bring a meditative quality into the regular actions of ordinary life. It is very common in the Zen Buddhist tradition to practicing standing meditation for this very reason.
Tadasana can be a powerful tool for bringing equanimity and mindfulness into our actions.
Tadasana is a vital pose that should not be omitted from any Hatha Yoga practice, no matter how advanced.
Learn how to perform it with deep detail and awareness by signing up for one of our intensive, residential teacher training programs today!