Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain Pose - Tadasana
Ben Goldstein

Type of pose: Standing

Benefits: Improves your posture and body awareness, strengthens your legs, establishes good alignment

Tadasana may not look like much, but keeping your body active and aligned is hard work. You're not just standing around any old way. 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.

 

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. It's a great way to check in with your body and set yourself up to be mindful of your form throughout all your poses. In fact, the basic alignment for mountain pose carries through to many of the other standing postures (warrior I, for example) and inverted poses (handstand) you're going to do. 

Instructions:

1. Come to stand with your big toes touching.

2. Lift up all your toes and fan them out, then drop them back down to create a wide, solid base. You can separate your heels slightly if your ankles are knocking together uncomfortably.

3. Let your feet and calves root down into the floor.

4. Engage your quadriceps and draw them upward, causing your knee caps to rise.

5. Rotate both thighs inward, creating a widening of the sit bones.

6. Maintain the natural curves of your spine.

7. Tone your belly, drawing it in slightly.

8. Widen your collar bones and check that your shoulders are stacked over your pelvis.

9. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and then roll them back to release your shoulder blades down your back. 

10. Let your arms hang naturally with the elbows slightly bent and the palms facing forward.

11. Your neck is long, your chin is neither tucked down nor lifted up, and the crown of your head rises toward the ceiling.

12. Once you have checked all your alignment points, take five to ten breaths while you hold yourself in this position.

Beginners' Tip: 

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 if the block was still there. You don't have to use the block every time but it helps your body remember how to inwardly rotate the thighs.

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