Tadasana – Mountain Pose

Tadasana – Mountain Pose

From the Secret Lives of Yoga Poses Archive 2008 – 2009

Tadasana – Mountain Pose

Mt Hood, Oregon (Wy'east)

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Mountain pose builds steadiness and confidence, as well as self awareness. This pose can be a usefull tool to bring light into the dark places, or the blind spots, of your inner vision. It also teaches us the strengthening principle of balanced muscular engagement as applied to facilitated stretching, and the actions described below can be applied to every pose in your yoga practice.

The Secret Life

Mountain Pose, or tadasana, is the fundamental standing pose. It’s the earth of the poses – eternally, effortlessly present. When I first began practicing yoga, it seemed like a non-pose to me. Like just standing still. But as the yogic practice of awareness began to sharpen my perceptions, this unassuming posture took on life. The life of myriad plants and animals making their home in the shoulder of the great rock. The life evoked by the sounds of soft wind in deep valleys. Practicing mountain pose is practicing peace amidst the glorious chaos of our lives.

Perhaps because I was a child of the seventies, I tend to lend the pronoun “she” to all expressions of nature. But I understand that historically in India, the mountain is associated with Siva himself. This is in part because the upward thrust of the mountain’s shape corresponds with the upward pointing triangle that is a symbol for the what’s sometimes called “liberating” energy, which moves away from the earth and our manifest, embodied experience. The archetypal association with Siva also speaks to the steady, enduring quality we sense when beholding a great mountain from afar, such as in the picture of Mt Hood, above.

I love the Hindu image of the Goddess as the river, running down the surface of the mountain, further embedded as a metaphor for Siva’s dreadlocks, providing the complimentary earth bound, dynamic, manifesting current. As with any symbol or archetype, you can play with it. We can pull apart these energies in theory only – in matter they are deeply, irrevocably interwoven.

Mt. Hood is called Wy’east in the Multnomah language of the native Chinook, and is considered a he, although not all mountains are. Wy’east is considered to be one of two sons of the Great Spirit.

The Pose

1) Stand with your feet at hip width, pointing straight ahead, with your arms at your sides. Let your knees be straight but not locked, and bring your weight to rest evenly on all the corners of your feet. Let your head float comfortably at the top of your spine, in anatomical neutral position. You can think of this as looking right at the back of the head of the person sitting in front of you on a city bus.

2) Begin with softening, and filling up. This is to ensure that your self effort will be seasoned by an awareness of what is beyond yourself and whatever activity we are doing at the moment. Settle your weight into your feet as if you trust the earth to hold you, and let the breath come in, and lift you and support you from the inside. Let it rustle the leaves of the bushes and trees on the mountain.

3) Now, engage your muscles. Really, it’s is as simple as that. Sometimes we call it hugging in; this gentle engagement is the first step in a process called “facilitated stretching”. Starting at your feet, begin to slowly hug your muscles in, around the supported, filled up feeling. Nestling the muscles in close to the bones will calm your nervous system, ensuring your body that someone (you) is making sure all the parts are being kept secure. Believe it or not, this a step toward lengthening your muscles and opening your joints. Keep hugging your muscles in, around your ankles and legs, your hips, your belly and chest, your arms and hands and fingers, your whole body. Then, from deep in your belly, root your feet into the earth, and extend out in all directions like a star.

Try not to overdo. Don’t clench your bones, hug them. And please remember to continue breathing. The trick to finding your center is finding the middle. The middle point between the softening and surrender, and the strengthening and effort, is Yoga.

The Sanskrit name for Mountain Pose is Tadasana. It is also sometimes called samastithi, or Equal Standing Pose.

nataraja statue like noah's

Related Post: Foot Help – For All the Poses in Your Life

To read more about facilitated stretching, check out Dr. Ray Long’s blog, here.

This information is meant to inspire you, and to encourage you to begin your own life-affirming practice of yoga. A safe and rewarding yoga practice can only be ensured by the guidance of a well trained, real live teacher. 

To schedule a session with me online, contact me here.