Tadasana: Mountain Pose
While the tadasana (tah-DAHS-anna), or mountain pose, appears to be one of the most basic yoga poses, it is far more profound than it seems. Learning how to truly stand in mountain pose, with awareness from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet, brings benefits in practicing nearly every other yoga pose — especially standing poses. Understanding the ins and outs of tadasana gives the knowledge needed to move confidently and safely into your practice for years to come. Regularly practicing mountain pose is also great for improving posture.
Philosophy + Origin
Mountain pose can look like a “non-pose” to some, but there is much to discover. In an age where we move quickly from one thing to the next, learning how to be strong, steady, and unwavering like a mountain is beneficial for our mental, physical, and spiritual health. As you stand in mountain pose, notice the subtleties of the posture. What can be discovered by being still? The more you practice tadasana, the more you’ll experience its meditative qualities, each breath inviting another step up the proverbial mountain until you quietly take in the incredible vista from the top.
- Stand with your heels, hips, and shoulder blades against a wall as a guide for proper alignment.
- To learn to engage the leg muscles correctly, practice with a block between your thighs. Use your inner thigh muscles to squeeze the block and imagine you can push it behind you (internal rotation). This action is fundamental to many standing poses.
- Stand at the top of your mat with your ankles directly under your inner hip bones.
- Root down: Lift and spread your toes wide, then gently place them back down. Balance your weight between the four corners of your feet – the base of the big toe, the base of the pinky toe, the inner heel, and the outer heel.
- Internal rotation: Feel your inner thighs squeeze toward each other and back behind you.
- Neutral pelvis: Draw your tailbone down as you lift your pubic bone toward your belly.
- Broad shoulders: Widen your shoulder blades as you simultaneously draw them down. Lift your sternum to allow more space between your collarbones. Let your arms rest at your sides with palms facing forward.
- Feel the midline: Feel the crown of your head align with the center of your pelvis; align your chin so that it’s parallel to the mat.
- Tada = mountain
- Asana = pose
- Improves posture.
- Strengthens thighs, ankles, feet.
- Tones the muscles of the abdomen.
- Calms the mind.
- Relaxes the central nervous system.
Parsvottanasana: Intense Side Stretch Pose
From lengthening the spine to stretching the legs to calming the mind, there’s a little bit of everything in parsvottanasana (parsh-voh-tahn-AHS-ah-nah) Also known as intense side stretch pose or pyramid pose, this shape is helpful for finding balance while stretching hamstrings.
Parsvottanasana requires a combination of flexibility, strength, and patience. With the help of props such as blocks or a wall, the\is pose becomes accessible for everyone.
- Blocks: Place hands on blocks to help keep the torso long.
- Wall: Place hands on a wall in front of you to work on strengthening the muscles of the back.
- Heart opening variation: Take the hands in reverse prayer position behind the back to stretch and open your shoulders and chest while also challenging your balance. If reverse prayer isn’t accessible, you can still bring the arms behind the back, reaching for opposite elbows instead.
- Adjust your stance: If the back heel is lifted off of the floor, shorten the stance so you can push through the heel to activate the back leg. For more stability, widen your stance.