Every yoga pose, known in Sanskrit as an “asana,” has its own way of bringing the body and mind into greater harmony. World-renowned yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar poetically compares the body to a bow and each asana to the various arrows with which individuals target the ultimate aim of yoga practice — the soul.
This guide offers an in-depth look at mountain pose (tadasana).
About the Pose
Perhaps the most quintessential yoga posture, mountain pose provides the foundation for many asana sequences. This pose derives its name from the stability, strength, and equanimity it gives practitioners. A true yogi stands tall, unphased by whatever inclement weather life might bring. This marks a stark contrast to the poor posture of most people in the modern age, whose sedentary lifestyle leaves them slumped over and depressed. Level: Beginner (Tadasana is among the first poses taught in most yoga classes.) Key Benefits:
- Improves posture
- Strengthens the legs, back, core, and feet
- Helps to relieve plantar fasciitis and heel spurs by restoring the arches
- Enhances an individual’s self-awareness of how they stand and where they place their weight
- Energizes the body while calming the mind
- Engenders confidence, making it a useful pose for public speakers
- B.K.S. Iyengar recommends yoga practitioners with Parkinson’s disease, a herniated disk, or another spinal disorder gain support for mountain pose by standing with their palms against a wall.
- Individuals with scoliosis can try placing their spine against a support beam or other structure that supports the spine while still allowing their shoulder blades to relax and fall down and back.
- Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana): This beginner pose lengthens the spine, stimulates the digestive organs, and reduces fatigue.
- Chair Pose (Utkatasana): This beginner pose builds strength and willpower.
- Standing Backbend (Anuvittasana): This beginner pose improves circulation, tones the spine, and strengthens the abdominal muscles.
Trying It Out
This pose requires no special props beyond your yoga mat. Keep your breathing full and steady throughout your practice, and follow these step-by-step instructions to try this pose out for yourself:
Stand with both feet together. Lift your chest, let your shoulders relax, and rest your arms at your sides. Evenly distribute your weight across both feet and then draw support from your entire foot — from the heel to the toes.
With your feet firmly grounded on the floor, engage your quadriceps, glutes (buttock muscles), and hamstrings. This should raise the front of your pelvis while tucking your tailbone under your spine. Your knees should feel steady, but not overextended. Let gravity pull your arms toward the ground as you keep your fingers relaxed and your palms turned inward toward your thighs.
Extend your neck so your ears, shoulders, hips, and knees form a straight line, perpendicular to the ground. Imagine that you cemented your feet in place, but a string continually pulls the crown of your head up toward the sky. Soften the muscles in your neck and face.
Notice any parts of your body that seem out of place and make the proper adjustments. Hold this pose for 30 seconds or as long as it feels comfortable.
Refining the Pose
Achieving maximum benefit from your yoga practice requires you to pay close attention to your physical alignment. To ensure you maintain proper alignment, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you standing straight and tall?
- Did you distribute your weight across the whole foot on both feet?
- Are your shoulders and arms relaxed?
- Is your tailbone tucked under your spine?
- Steady Mountain Pose (Tadasana Samasthiti): This variation of tadasana has practitioners set their feet set apart roughly 10 to 12 inches while they keep their hands slightly away from their sides.
- Mountain Pose With Arms Folded Behind the Back (Tadasana Paschima Baddha Hastasana): This pose involves placing your arms behind your back with each hand clasping the opposite elbow (or somewhere near it).
- Mountain Pose With Hands Folded Behind the Back (Tadasana Paschima Baddha Namaskarasana): In this pose, the hands come together behind the back in a gesture of prayer.
- Mountain Pose With Fingers Interlocked (Tadasana Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana): In this variation, practitioners hold their arms high above their head with their fingers tightly interlaced and their elbows locked.
- Mountain Pose With Arms Stretched Upward (Tadasana Urdhva Hastasana): This version of mountain pose involves extending and raising the arms upward with the hands facing forward and the armpits exposed.
- Mountain Pose With Hands Clasped Behind the Back (Tadasana Gomukhasana): This variation involves raising one arm and bending it behind the back to clasp the fingers of the other hand.