Try These 3 Propped Mountain Pose Variations to Improve Posture

how to practice yoga's mountain pose sanskrit is (Tadasana)

In our modern world, we spend most of our time seated. We sit in the car or on the subway on our way to work. We sit at our desks or in meetings all day at work. We sit for our commute back home, and then we sit some more as we relax and unwind on the couch after a long day. As a society, we are becoming more and more sedentary in our lives.

Sitting isn’t always bad, but excessive sitting can wreak havoc on our bodies. As our habitual patterns continue to express themselves over and over, our connective tissue and muscles literally begin to change their patterning shapes.

We tend to overly round our upper backs. We extend our heads forward of our shoulders. We round our shoulders forward and sink into a slouched position. And our positioning stays that way as we continuously reinforce its shape by holding our bodies in this patterning.  

Thankfully, our yoga practice helps to counteract a lot of our postural “bad” habits and improve posture overall. We can use the poses to create effective change in our tissues. We can gradually draw our heads back to align over our shoulders. We can slowly reestablish the neutral curvature of our backs. We can gently open our chests and relax our shoulders. 

But it takes conscious awareness of our postural habits and positional alignment and actions in our tissues to be able to effect this change. And this isn’t always so easy to establish. But luckily, props like a chair, can be especially useful to help us learn about this positioning and these actions to realign our posture.

The perfect place to practice this postural realignment is in simple foundational postures like Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Try These 3 Mountain Pose Variations to Find Space and Stability to Improve Posture

For all of these Mountain Pose variations, you will need a lightweight folding chair that you can easily lift and move and a yoga mat.

Variation 1: Open Your Heart in Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose with a chair held on the back

  1. Come to stand in a neutral Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet together or roughly hip-distance apart. Root down into the tripod base of your feet and elongate your whole body.
  2. Fold your chair completely and hold it behind your back with the feet pointing toward the floor and the backrest pointing toward the ceiling.
  3. Thread your right arm through the backrest of the chair behind you and hold onto either the seat or the foot of the chair with your hand.
  4. Repeat the same actions with your left hand until both of your arms are thread through the backrest of the chair and holding toward the bottom of the chair. 
  5. Roll your shoulders gently down your back and very subtly hug your shoulder blades toward each other. 
  6. Gently press your back against the chair behind you.
  7. Expand and open your chest forward toward the top of your mat as you simultaneously draw your arms toward the back of your mat.
  8. Feel the broadening across your chest and the weight of the chair drawing your shoulders down your back.
  9. Pause and hold here for a few long, deep breaths.

Variation 2: Relax Your Shoulders in your Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose practiced holding a chair

  1. Come to stand in a neutral Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet together or roughly hip-distance apart. Root down into the tripod base of your feet and elongate your whole body.
  2. Fold your chair completely and hold it sideways behind your back with the feet pointing toward your left and the backrest pointing toward your right.
  3. Reach your right arm over the chair behind you and hold onto the bottom edge of the backrest.
  4. Reach your left arm over the chair behind you and hold onto the bottom leg of the chair.
  5. Roll your shoulders gently down your back and very subtly hug your shoulder blades toward each other. 
  6. Gently press your back against the chair behind you.
  7. Gently press the backs of your thighs into the chair behind you.
  8. Expand and open your chest forward toward the top of your mat as you simultaneously draw your arms toward the back of your mat.
  9. Feel the broadening across your chest and the chair’s weight drawing your shoulders down your back.
  10. Lift and lengthen both sides of your waistline equally.
  11. Pause and hold here for a few long, deep breaths.

Variation 3 Root Down to Rise Up: Lengthen Your Spine

Tadasna with a chair held overhead

  1. Come to stand in a neutral Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet together or roughly hip-distance apart. Root down into the tripod base of your feet and elongate your whole body.
  2. Fold your chair completely and hold onto the outer edges of the center of the seat with both hands so you have a firm, stable grip.
  3. Ground down into your legs and send energy all the way up your whole spine.
  4. Integrate your core by three-dimensionally cinching in around your waistline as if tightening a corset and drawing your navel in toward your spine and up toward your rib cage.
  5. From the stability in your center, reach your arms and the chair up over your head and straighten your arms as much as possible.
  6. Telescope your ribs up toward the sky and then knit your lower ribs in toward your back body to avoid overarching your lower back.
  7. With this added weight in your arms, feel the stability needed in your core and the length and extension needed throughout your whole body to support the shape.
  8. Hold here for a few long, deep breaths.

Create Positive Postural Habits and Improve Posture Overall on Your Yoga Mat With These Mountain Pose Variations

Because so many of us have “bad” postural habits in our everyday lives, our yoga mats can be safe havens for our bodies to gradually learn to realign structures and reestablish strength and stability as well as openness and space.

Practicing foundational postures like Tadasana with the help of props can bring your awareness to the subtleties of your body’s alignment so that you’re better able to find space and stability in areas like your chest, spine, and core and, therefore, improve posture.

We come to our mats for a multitude of different reasons every time we practice, so why not add postural integrity to your growing list of reasons to practice? Your body will very likely be grateful for it.

**images and concepts courtesy of David Jacobs

Images courtesy of David Jacobs
Leah Sugerman, E-RYT 500, YACEP, yoga writer

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.

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