TADASANA (Mountain Pose)
As summer continues to heat up, so can your practice. One of the most challenging parts of yoga is to remain in the present. When you commit to coming to your mat, or if you want to, but haven’t yet, you will find it just a bit easier each time. You don’t “do” yoga, you experience it, and with each practice you’ll get closer to that experience. When you “do” something, a thought is sent out into the external world, when you experience something, you feel it internally. You “go within”. So, let’s start with a pose that will be one of the cornerstone of your yoga practice: TADASANA or Mountain Pose.
TADASANA sets the foundation for your entire yoga practice. It’s the cornerstone where many of the principles of yoga lie. Out of all the practitioners I’ve met over the years, one was a 9 year veteran who still wasn’t able to master Dancer’s Pose. I asked her if she engaged her muscles throughout the pose, as well as throughout her entire practice. She hesitantly admitted she had not, that no one ever told her to. Imagine my astonishment! It wasn’t until after that chance meeting that I found many students had the same experience: they were either never told to “hug the muscle to bone” throughout their practice, or if they were told, didn’t hear it or if they did hear it, they simply forget.
POSE OF THE MONTH: TADASANA (MOUNTAIN POSE)
- Stand with the feet together, big toe to big toe, heel to heel. Lift and spread the toes and place them firmly on the mat, rocking back and forth slightly until there is equanimity in both feet. Press them firmly into the mat.
- Begin to tighten the quadriceps (thigh muscles) by rotating the inner thighs towards each other and notice (feel) how the kneecaps lift up.
- Engage the core by tilting the pelvis up slightly. Hug the glutes (the muscles in the buttocks) and lengthen the tailbone down to the mat. This Notice (feel) the solidity of your stance. Gently lift the pubic bone first, then the pelvic floor as the groins lengthen – this is mula bandha, which gives a feeling of stability without clenching.
- Take the arms out to the sides, palms facing forward, fingers spread wide. Reach down to the ground and notice (feel) the shoulders pull away from the ears.
- Engage the triceps as the biceps rotate slightly forward.
- Lightly lift the chest away from the stomach without popping the ribs. Notice (feel) the heart is elevated.
- Keep your gaze (drishti) relaxed as the eyes are soft looking straight ahead. The chin is off the chest and level with the floor.
- Press the feet down into the mat as the crown of the head is pulled up to the ceiling. This is the yin/yang, push/pull of yoga.
- IMPORTANT: Although this is considered a resting pose, to gain full benefit of thew pose, you do not relax, but stay engaged (hugging the muscles to the bones – all of them) throughout not only this pose, but every one in the sequence.
- BEGINNER’S TIP: If you aren’t able to balance with the feet together, spread them a few inches apart, but no more than the waist, maintaining the engagement of the muscles.
Enjoy the yin/yang, push/pull of yoga. Remember as you press down with the feet, you lift up with the crown of the head.