Why does correct alignment in Tadasana matter?
So why exactly is Mountain pose, so important? Surely it’s just standing upright, right? Wrong! Tadasana is so much more than just standing to attention for your yoga teacher. Correct alignment in Tadasana works as a strong base pose from which pretty well all standing poses extend out from. How can you expect to achieve proper alignment in a pose such as Tree pose, if your foundations or ‘roots’ aren’t stable like a mountain?
Think about it, Tadasana is the point of entrance and exit for Sun salutations, the alignment which we extend out from into challenging one-legged balances such as Extended-hand-to-big-toe pose, and the pose from which we can step back into Warrior 1 or High lunge.
Tadasana and aligning into anatomical position for good posture
Beyond our yoga mat, Tadasana is the closest we find to correct anatomical position in physiotherapy. The implications of this mean that standing in a well-aligned Mountain pose, even if just for those few minutes in your yoga class (as its almost impossible to keep such alignment constantly in our day to day lives), will help towards achieving a sustainably good posture both on and off the mat.
How to get into a well-aligned Mountain pose:
- There are two approaches to foot position in Tadasana and neither is right or wrong it simply boils down to personal choice. In the Ashtanga school of yoga, your big toes touch with a small separation between your heels. But it is totally fine to have a small gap between your feet such as more common in Hatha yoga.
- To start with, try lifting your toes and grounding down through the balls of your feet. This should result in an upward lift of your calves, knees and thighs.
- Now drop your toes whilst keeping the upward lift and engagement of the legs.
- Spread your toes to create a broad base and press down evenly through the 4 corners of your feet: big toe, little toe, either side of the heel.
- Internally rotate your thighs slightly.
- Now begin to tilt and tuck your pelvis, stopping in the place where you feel your lumbar spine (lower back) extend up, but whilst still maintaining some of its natural inward curve.
- Next, pull your lower abdominals lightly in and up.
- Broaden across your chest. Turning your palms to the front will help with this action. Make sure that your ribs haven’t puffed out in the process of all this. If they have then you may need to re-tuck your pelvis slightly as in step 6 to help soften your ribs down.
- Draw your arm bones to the back of the shoulder sockets so that your arms are in line with the side of your body and your shoulder blades are sat snugly down your back ribs.
- Finally, extend up through your neck and draw your chin slightly in to further lengthen the back of your neck (cervical spine). Allow yourself to stand tall like a mountain, reaching up to the sky but at the same time being firmly rooted in the earth.