Tadasana: Mountain Pose

tadasana stephschwartz

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.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • 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.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Stand at the top of your mat with your ankles directly under your inner hip bones.
  2. 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.
  3. Internal rotation: Feel your inner thighs squeeze toward each other and back behind you.
  4. Neutral pelvis: Draw your tailbone down as you lift your pubic bone toward your belly.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Tada = mountain
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Improves posture.
  • Strengthens thighs, ankles, feet.
  • Tones the muscles of the abdomen.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Calms the mind.
  • Relaxes the central nervous system.
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Malasana: Squat Pose or Garland Pose

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ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     CONTRAINDICATIONS    |     MANTRA    |     MUDRA    |     PREP POSES    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS    |     TIPS

A great stretch for ankles and the lower back, Malasana (mahl-AH-sana), which is also referred to as Squat or Garland pose, opens the groin and tones the belly. While comfortable for some, Malasana can be difficult for others. Appropriate adjustments and modifications can help students enjoy the benefits of this posture while strengthening and opening the muscles needed to practice Malasana and other postures.

Philosophy + Origin

There are many beautiful attempts to defend the translation of Malasana as “Garland Pose.” While mala most commonly refers to a garland or rosary, many students have a difficult time understanding how this imagery applies to the pose. Some teachers argue that the shape of the body depicts the bead on a mala, or perhaps the arms look like a mala or garland hanging from the neck. Other teachers will use the story of how this posture is traditionally taken when receiving the gift of a garland from a spiritual teacher. While all very poetic, there’s another lesser-known understanding of Malasana that makes more sense. The word mala can also be translated as excrement. Considering the digestive benefits of this posture, it makes a lot more sense.

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