I thought I would take a little bit of time to look at probably the simplest of all yoga poses Tadasana or Mountain Pose. Having said it is the easiest there are still a lot things going on in it and it takes concentration and practise which is where you get most of the benefits. This is one of my favourite poses for calming the mind and centring me. If you have difficulty with meditation then standing in mountain pose and bring your mind to your breath is a brilliant way to begin and to train the mind.
How To Practise Mountain Pose
1. The most important thing with mountain pose is to have a solid base and traditionally it is taught with the feet together, either with the big toes touching and the heels slightly apart or with the heels and touching. However if you feel more stable practise it with your feet directly under your hips.
2. Now work on spreading your weight evenly over your feet so come up on to your toes and lower your heels fully to the ground then lift the toes, spread them as much as possible and bring them down one at a time. Sway back and forth and side to side slightly to distribute your weight evenly before coming to a still position.
3. Keep your legs as firm as possible by pulling the knee caps up and firming the thighs. Also pull up at the ankles to make the legs as strong as possible.
4. Tilt the pelvis under and lock on your abs to keep a strong, straight core. There should be no curve in the lower back in this position so until you get used to it check with your hands to make sure the pelvis is tilted correctly.
5. the shoulder blades should be flattened against the back so opening the chest. The hands should be straight down by your sides with the palms facing forward and the chest opening.
6. The crown of your head should be held directly above the core, at the same time there should be no tension in the neck and it should feel like your head is just resting on your neck.
7. Close your eyes in this pose and imagine that as you breath in your grow taller, your head lifting towards the sky and as you exhale your feet are grounded solidly in the earth. This is a good starting point for a number of poses and also the perfect way to clam your mind.
Benefits of Mountain Pose
1. Improves Posture – while in mountain pose you need to take time to concentrate on the alignment of the whole body which can be used as an aid to improve your posture. For instance if like me you spend a lot of time on the computer you will probably find that your shoulders round forward slightly leaving the chest contracted. By practising mountain pose you can open the chest and bring the shoulders back to their correct alignment. This muscle memory will stay with you and encourage you to correct your posture at other times.
2. Firms the Body – if you are looking for a lovely toned body then practising this pose every day could really help. You literally have to use every muscle in your body to practise Tadasana correctly which leads to great strength in the body.
3. Relives Sciatica – this pose brings your spine into correct alignment which can really help with the relief of sciatica. Very few people stand straight on a day to day basis, they will stand on one leg or another and will often tilt their pelvis so their bottoms stock out and there is a big curve in the lower back so practising this pose will help to correct these postural problems and indirectly aid with sciatica.
4. Calms the Mind – staying in mountain pose will bring a lot of quite to the mind. In our busy lives we rarely spend any time when we are completely still in the body but keeping the body still helps to bring stillness to the mind which in turn can help with things like stress, anxiety and depression.
5. Reduces Flat Feet – the fact you distribute your weight between your heels and balls of your feet you can create a great strength and balance in your feet. This can be of great help to changing the muscle memory of people with flat feet.
There are a few times when you should not practise Tadasana:
1. If you suffer from headaches, insomnia or low blood pressure then you should not practise Mountain Pose for an extended length of time.
2. Be careful with your knees in this pose. You are supposed to lock on the thighs and pull the knee caps up but you do not want to hyperextend the knee so just make sure you are comfortable in the pose and not taking it too far.