Yoga Asana Series: Tadasana aka Mountain Pose

24th June 2021

Full name: TADASANA = MOUNTAIN POSE
Tada = mountain
Asana = pose
(pronunciation: tad-AHS-anna)

Why You Should Practise Tadasana

tadasana

In yoga, tadasana is your standing pose home base. Also, along with bhujangasana it shows up multiple times in Surya Namaskar (it’s where you start and end all your sun salutations), and throughout your practice. And if I were to add a pose to the yoga asana you should be practising everyday, tadasana would be it!

It’s easy to skim over mountain pose, after all, it’s just standing right? Something you have been doing since you were 10 months old. Well, no, not quite. Mountain pose in yoga teaches you the foundational posture, alignment and muscle engagement you will carry with you into most poses. And it’s a lot easier to learn how to engage your core when you are standing up straight, as opposed to when you are trying to balance on your hands (trust me).

Tadasana or Samastitihi?

If you are familiar with Ashtanga, you might have heard tadasana pose referred to as samastitihi. So what’s the difference? Nothing.

Tadasana is the more commonly referred to name, but the Sanskrit translation of samastitihi has some valuable insights into the pose:

  • Sama means ‘equal’, ‘level’, or ‘balanced’
  • Sthiti means ‘stand’

So tadasana is your balanced, level standing pose.

Read on for your samastitihi/tadasana steps!

Tadasana Instructions

In this section, I will lay out a basic blueprint for tad asan, and in the Tips, Tricks and Variations section I have included helpful modifications.

  1. Stand at the top of your mat.
  2. Adjust your feet so your big toes touch and there is a slight gap between the heels, and the outer blades of your feet are in parallel lines. Lift the toes, spread them, put them back down, and push firmly through the big toe and little toe. Push slightly into the outside blade of your feet to find a lift through the inner arches. 
  3. Check you are not hanging back in the heels, or forward in the toes. Shift your weight until it is evenly spread through the feet. There is a light, evenness that comes when you find the body’s midline, so your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders are all stacked 
  4. From the lift in your arches, imagine you are drawing energy upwards through the body. Slightly engage the quads to lift the knees, and slightly engage your pelvic floor and core muscles to lengthen the torso and find stability. 
  5. The lower back is in a neutral position, with a gentle curve. Check you are not tucking the tailbone under (this will flatten out the back, and we need those spinal curves!) or sticking your butt out.
  6. The shoulders are soft down the back. Think of relaxing the shoulder blades, as opposed to engaging them to pull the shoulders downwards.
  7. The arms extend down by your sides, gently energise through the fingers (but not so much that you look like a soldier on parade). The palms can face inwards, or you can rotate the arm so they face forward.
  8. Lengthen through the back of the neck, by slightly drawing the chin inwards so the crown of the head elevates towards the sky.
  9. Take a few breaths here, noting the gentle energy, openness, strength and length of this pose. 

Benefits of Tadasana

  • Improves overall posture 
  • Strengthens and tones core, legs, and arms
  • Improves balance and helps build a solid foundation for standing balance poses
  • Whole-body muscle engagement 
  • As a yoga pose, mountain pose teaches you the fundamental alignment principles you can transfer across into other asana, such as stacking joints, gentle engagement of key muscle groups, and a balance between muscle engagement and softness.

Tadasana Tips, Tricks and Variations

Staying Grounded

You will only get mountain pose benefits if you can balance, and for many people having their feet close together makes them feel unstable, and it can be uncomfortable for people with bigger thighs. Broadening your base by taking your feet hip-width apart (or even wider!) will help you find stability and stay grounded in your taad asana. Even if you can stand with your feet close together, taking them further apart is a nice thing to do for gentler practices.

Strength AND Ease

I always laugh at the tadasana images of people who are standing ramrod straight, everything engaged, with a semi-constipated facial expression. As Patanjali said in the Yoga Sutras, it’s sthirha-sukha asanam (II.46), which means strength (stirha) and ease (sukha) in your asana.

Almost all the muscle groups of the body are engaged in mountain pose, but gently engaged (about 10-20% of max activation), so make sure you are finding that balance between strength/engagement and ease/softness.

Tadasana Variations

Utthita Tadasana

Utthita Tad asana, AKA extended mountain pose, is the first actual movement in a sun salutation where you raise your arms up overhead. Sometimes called urdhva hastasana.

Tiryaka Tadasana

Tiryaka Tadasana, AKA standing side bend (literally swaying mountain pose), is a great way to stretch and strengthen your oblique muscles.

From Tadasana, take your feet hip-width apart. Raise your arms up over your head and interlace your fingers so your palms face the sky. It’s okay for the shoulders to lift slightly towards the ears (just make sure they are not hunched all the way up).

Inhale to find length and engage your obliques. Exhale arch over to the right-hand side. Take a few breaths, feeling the left side of the body expand and lengthen. On an exhale engage the core and come back to centre. Repeat on the left-hand side.

Tiryaka tadasana image:

tiryaka tadasana

Sequencing Tadasana

Sequencing tada asan is super easy… It’s the starting and endpoint for sun salutations, and any standing poses that you come into from a neutral position — particularly standing balance poses.

In yoga, mountain pose is an essential asana to know well. It’s all too easy to think it is just standing up straight, but I promise it is so much more. The tadasana benefits are often unexpected and can be felt across a wide variety of poses!

Looking for more asana guides? Check out this one on trikonasana, and if you are looking for something with a little less impact then watch one of my favourite yoga movies.

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