Fundamental Yoga Pose 2: Mountain Pose
Name: Mountain Pose
Sanskrit name: Tadasana
Think there's nothing more to mountain pose than standing around waiting for the next move? Think again! Mountain pose or Tadasana, as its known in Sanskrit, is an excellent pose for improving posture and finding alignment. It also serves as a foundational pose on top of which we can build our standing yoga practice.
Getting into the Pose
Stand with your big toes touching and your heels just slightly apart, keeping a micro bend in the knees*. Lift your toes off the ground, fan them out wide and place them back on the mat, actively pressing into each corner of the foot to stay grounded and balanced.
On an inhale, feel your spine lengthening from the tailbone all the way to the top of the head. Use every inhalation to envision yourself creating more space between each vertebrate as if you are trying to stretchhhh your spine out as long as you can.
Remember, tadasana is an active posture! Draw your shoulder blades together and down to create space in the neck and chest. Allow your arms to hang by your sides and imagine there are weights on the tips of your fingers, drawing them towards the floor. Tilt the top of the pelvis back and draw the tailbone down by engaging the core. Keep that slight bend in the legs and actively pull the kneecaps up with your thigh muscles. It's never a good idea to dump your weight into the joints. We need to use our muscles to maintain proper posture!
As always, once you have taken a moment to find your alignment, breathe deeply and enjoy!
*Why do we keep pestering you to keep a slight bend in the knees? For one, it helps maintain proper alignment in the rest of the body. Locking the knees makes the pelvis tilt forward, which throws off the natural curvature of the spine and puts unnecessary strain on the low back. Locked knees also make balance a lot trickier. Bending the legs keeps the thighs engaged and active, making it easier to adjust in case you begin to lose your footing. Which is all to say, if you keep those knees bent, you're a lot less likely to topple over in the middle of class!
Why we do it
Finding alignment on the mat helps improve posture off the mat. There's a reason your mum used to tell you not to slouch in your chair; practicing good posture improves our health in a myriad of ways:
- Using the stabilizing muscles to maintain good posture prevents pain in the low back, neck and shoulders by lessening strain on the joints and ligaments.
- Our joints wear over time. By lessening the strain we place on them, we slow the rate of this natural process.
- Standing tall gives the lungs more room to expand, allowing us to take deeper, fuller breaths.
- Numerous recent studies  have shown that standing with good posture can be a significant confident boost.
Aside from improving our posture, tadasana is the perfect jumping off point for learning new standing postures. It strengthens the stabilizing muscles in the legs, which are vital for those trickier balancing poses. Most importantly, it provides a moment of pause during a flow to find alignment again, which can then be carried through the rest of the practice.