Don’t Forget Your Roots
In this series of blog posts we are breaking down different yoga poses and walking through how to build them from the tips of your toes, to the top of your crown. That’s right, we’re focusing on building yoga poses from the ground up for a strong and sturdy foundation! We kicked off the series with Don’t Forget Your Roots, an intro to the idea. Now we continue that series with Tadasana or Mountain Pose
Tada! Mountain Pose or Tadasana is one of the first poses we learn when we begin a yoga practice. Every time I think of this pose, I’m reminded of a five year old that I was teaching yoga. The moment she achieved the posture, she exclaimed “Tada!” with such joy. While Tadasana might be considered a beginner pose, it is not an easy pose. There is a lot going on in this pose as it incorporates many different joints and muscle groups.
There are many benefits to practicing mountain pose. It is a foundational pose for so many others in our practice, even the more advanced postures like headstands! Mountain pose is calming, and is a great alternate pose for conscious breathing. Continued practice of the posture can help strengthen any joints in the feet, ankles and muscles in the legs and torso. The pose can help to improve your posture as well, making it a great break to take at different times during the workday to counteract that computer slouch or hunch.
Build your poses from the ground up
To practice Tadasana or Mountain Pose, come into a standing position with feet placed together. If this is uncomfortable or causes strain, try stepping the feet shoulder or hip distance apart or opening the heels slightly so that the toes are touching and feet are at an angle. Taking variations of poses or postures is a great way to honor your body and go only as far as you are called to in this moment.
Check in with your feet. Lift the toes and slowly lower them down to the mat. Try this a few times, or doing so one foot at a time. Walk your feet out in place, lifting the heel of one foot and then the other. Come back to stillness in the standing position and notice a change in the feet. Your feet might feel more connected or rooted to the mat. They might feel more relaxed or flatter. You might also notice your toes spreading apart. That’s awesome! In yoga we talk about the four corners of the feet – one on either side of where your toes sprout from your feet, and one on either side of the heel. All four should connect with earth in these standing postures.
Movin’ on up
Draw your shins and thighs closer to each other. If you’re standing with feet apart focus on aligning these areas of the body, there might be some rotation in the thighs for example that’s needed to align the body. Typically you’ll hear instructors tell you to lift your thighs. I had no idea what that meant until one day it just clicked. Try to engage your quads and hip flexors, you may notice a bit of that “lift”. Engage or tighten your glutes. You’ll notice a slight tilt of the pelvis in doing so. Be careful not to tilt the pelvis or curve the spine too much here. A neutral position is what we’re striving for. Take a moment to notice the alignment of the ankles, knees and hips and draw these into a straight line.
Told you there was a lot going on in this pose! You’re almost there.
Draw the tummy in, like your belly button is striving to reach your spine. Roll your shoulders up and back, allowing them to slide into place. Draw the tops of the shoulders down away from ears. Arms are down at the sides, radiating out slightly or in Namaste. Take whatever position is calling to you today.
Lift the chin so that it is parallel to the floor and reach up through the crown of the head. You’ll notice your neck feel a bit longer here. Eyes can be open and gazing at a spot on the floor in front of your mat, or if you’d like to challenge your balance closing your eyes can do so. Focus here on your breathing. Standing tall gives the diaphragm lots of room to move, giving you the ability to really take in a deep breath and draw it down towards your belly.
Tada! You’ve achieved mountain pose. Favorite this post to come back to mountain pose throughout your day and you’ll be on your way to better posture, better health and better yoga.