Tadasana: The Mountain Pose
This article was inspired by my return home from a wonderful vacation several years ago. For 10 weeks before leaving, I was commuting to San José four days a week. Before that, I had spent a month in the United States doing workshops on breath and being. It had been four months since I put my toothpaste back on the bathroom shelf instead of back in my travel bag. As much as I enjoyed all that I had been doing and where I have traveled, it felt so nice to be back home.
This homecoming delight is exactly what I feel within the practice of yoga, especially tadasana, known as the mountain pose. It’s a foundational pose, excellent for grounding, centering, and balancing. One of my teachers, Lillah Schwartz, challenged me in my first teacher training to find this foundation, the essence of tadasana, in all postures.
When I can find the essence of tadasana in other postures, I know that I have found ease and effort balanced in my physical body. I have found the clarity of a one-pointed mind, and, given time in the pose, will turn more and more inward, connecting with wisdom.
So although tadasana can look like simply standing in place, doing this pose well and finding its essence is the foundation for grounding, centering and balance in the rest of your practice.
The mountain pose form is well known. Stand with the inner edges of your feet together, or slightly separated (up to hip width apart) if that feels more aligned for your body. The middle of your knees and your middle toes will be in line, and there should be a feeling of comfort where your thigh bone joins the hip socket. The balance of stability and spaciousness there is mirrored in all the joints of your body, including those of the spine and shoulders.
Play with small movements in any areas that might not quite feel that good — maybe small movements of the arms, small back-and-forth movements in the spine, hips or other joints — until it feels like everything is just right.
Let your feet reach down to meet the earth. Yet, also lift earth energy up through the inner and outer arches of your feet. It’s as though you are lifting this energy from your feet, through your spine, up and through the crown of your head, grounding and lifting in balance.
Close your eyes and explore how this balance feels. Invite all your senses inside for this exploration, first feeling what the underside of your skin feels like. Then go deeper to muscles, then bones, then eventually organs.
Then simply watch your mind itself. In a few minutes of stillness, see how still the mind can also become.