Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Yoga’s Foundational Pose
Mountain Pose, also called Tadasana, Samasthiti, or Equal Standing Pose, is one of the most basic yoga poses postures. It’s one of the postures in Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations), vinyasas, and a starting point for standing postures.
Standing upright is something we do every day, and it may seem like there’s not much going on, and that Mountain Pose is not difficult. However, if Mountain Pose is performed correctly, there’s quite a lot going on.
Mountain Pose Basics
Type: Extension, standing
Stretches: The entire body
Strengthens: Abdomen, back, legs
Gaze: Straight in front of you
Benefits of Mountain Pose
Practicing Mountain Pose with attention to alignment is excellent for improving your posture. It also develops balance and can ease sciatica pain and discomfort. Similar to other balancing postures, it can strengthen the muscles in your feet to help lift your arches.
How to Do Mountain Pose
- Start building Mountain Pose from the bottom up. Stand at the top edge of your mat. Bring your big toes together and set your heels slightly apart. Imagine that two parallel lines are going through your second toes and heels.
- Next, lift your toes, spread them as wide apart as you can, and put them back on your mat. Distribute weight evenly between both of your feet. Rock from side to side and forward and back to do that.
- Draw the heads of your thigh bones back so that your sacrum tilts forward. The soft tissue in your hip joints should feel springy, not hard or tight. This helps bring your femurs to a vertical position, which will help you avoid hyperextending your knees. It also places your sacrum in a neutral position, which allows the spine to maintain its natural curves.
- Engage your thighs and lift your kneecaps. Rotate your thighs slightly inward.
- Relax your shoulders and lift your chest without puffing it out or letting your chest flare out. Draw your shoulder blades toward each other and down your back.
- Hold your arms by your sides slightly engaged and with your fingers spread. Turn your palms forward or toward your thighs.
- Lift your chin, making it parallel to the floor, and direct your gaze forward. Try to align your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles to come in one straight line.
- Hold Mountain Pose for a few breaths.
Modifications and Variations
- If balancing in Mountain Pose is challenging to you, position your feet hips-distance apart.
- Keep your feet hip-distance apart, or even wider, if you’re pregnant. Keep your feet as far apart as you need to feel stable.
- There are a few options for holding your hands:
- You can hold them in front of your chest in Anjali Mudra (Prayer Position) or in Reverse Prayer Position, behind your back.
- You can lift your arms above your head and hold your hands parallel to each other or bring them together.
- You can also lift your arms up, interlace your fingers, and turn your palms toward the sky.
- Stretch both sides. Gently reach toward your right knee with your right hand to stretch your left side. You can keep your left hand by your side, but you can also lift it up. You can also lift both of your arms.
- Warm-up with a few twists. Raise your arms all the way up as you inhale. As you exhale, lower them to be parallel to the ground and twist to your right. Hold it there for a few breaths and repeat on the left side.
- Close your eyes as you hold Mountain Pose a few breaths or even longer. You’ll notice that you’re not entirely static but are gently swaying from one side to another.
- Align your heels behind your second and third toes. If your knees are turning inward, your heels are too far out.
- At first, it may seem like your toes aren’t spreading at all. That’s normal because the muscles in your feet are not used to doing it. Do your best, and you’ll see a difference over time as you develop the muscles in your feet.
- Squeeze a block between your thighs to learn proper alignment of the legs.
- When you tuck your pelvis in, keep a slight curve in your low back. Make sure your hips are not moving forward.
- If you’re holding your arms above your head, draw the shoulders down and away from your ears.
- You can also try Mountain Pose standing against the wall. If you do that, only the back of your head, shoulder blades, butt, and heels should touch the wall.
- Avoid hyper-extending your knees. If they are leaning further back than your ankles, slightly bend them.
Contraindications and Risks
Be careful when doing Mountain Pose if you experience headaches, feel lightheaded or dizzy, have low blood pressure, or have slept very little. All these things can affect your balance.
Karina Norton is a certified yoga instructor currently living and teaching in the south of Spain. She is passionate about anatomy and uses her background in weightlifting and dance to teach creative and safe classes. Karina primarily teaches a variety of mixed-level Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Yin yoga classes and workshops, and particularly enjoys working with women during their prenatal and postnatal journey. She continuously learns about different aspects of yoga and blogs on her website yogabykarina.com.