Funny how some poses established themselves by their sanskrit name when most are widely known by their english name. In case of Tadasana, I presume it's mainly for two reasons: it's easy to pronounce, and it sounds better/more rhythmic than 'mountain pose'. And it has another name too! In astanga yoga, it is usually refered to as Samasthiti as a kind of call to attention... That's a whole other topic though. Tadasana, or mountain pose, is one of those deceptive postures that seem like nothing at first sight, easy peasy.
Tadasana is the basic standing posture and, as such, one of the main building blocks of the practice. Mastering its principles means we can apply them to all the other postures that follow. Pretty useful then!
♥ Stand with your feet parallel and hip-width apart, arms by the sides, palms facing forward
♥ Lift and spread the toes, press the four corners of the feet into the ground, lift the arches
♥ Engage leg muscles (imagine you are about to jump off the ground, but you don't), lift knee caps, roll thighs back and out
♥ Draw tailbone down and pelvis slightly up towards the belly
♥ Breathe into the middle back, open chest and shoulders wide
♥ Extend up through the top of you head, underside of the chin is parallel to the floor
Those are the basics, a lot of fine tuning left to be done!
First of all, HIP WIDTH APART can be easily misinterpreted. Feet are hip width apart when the heels are directly underneath the sitting bones. Sitting bones are not the outer borders of your hips but, yes you guessed :), the bones at the bottom of your bum cheeks, the ones you sit on. To get the FEET PARALLEL, imagine a line that runs from the front of your ankles between the second and third toe, this line needs to be parallel, not the inner line of your feet.
Next, let's talk about the four corners of the feet. They are: big toe mound (or the big toe ball, what is the best way to call this?), little toe mound, inner heel and outer heel. Little toe mound and big toe mound are straightforward, I think, but inner and outer heel can be difficult to differentiate! To know if both inner and outer heel is pressing down, I find it helpful to check the ankles. For example, if the inner ankle feels passive, it probably means I am pressing down through the outer heel but not so much through the inner heel... It takes a bit of practice and observation but knowing how to operate your feet is key in yoga practice.
Now that the four corners of the feet are pressing down, it should be pretty easy to lift the arches. This is a really great exercise for anyone suffering from FLAT FEET because: it strengthens all the little foot muscles and cultivates an awareness of what exactly is happening in the foot and how it can be affected.
As you are working your way up the legs and torso, all the way to the crown of the head, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the detail and forget the alignment of the feet. But the whole body needs to be working at the same time.
Not so easy peasy then! Tadasana is an active posture that strengthens the whole body and is a great exercise for improving balance (close your eyes and see).
Possibly the most significant benefit of tadasana though is an improved posture: practicing tadasana means that a good posture eventually becomes second nature. Tadasana is usually the starting point for other standing poses but it should also be practiced on its own. And it can be done anywhere: at home, in a queue, on a bus, in a bar... wherever you are at any given time, you can do tadasana!
P.S. For more info, go to yoga journal, which has a great asana library and it's all free!
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