First, I want to start this off by saying that ALL poses (and everything else you do in life) should be done with love. I don’t want you forcing your body to be some way that it’s not, or being mad that it’s not fitting into the image you have in your mind of how it’s supposed to be. Your body is not wrong. It’s yours and it’s a miracle and I want you to move in a way that makes you feel good inside and out.
How many times have you gone into a yoga class and they tell you, “Move into Mountain Pose, or Tadasana,” and you stand there with your feet hip width apart and arms sort of out to the side. No real tension in any of your muscles. You’re standing up straight. You’re doing what you’ve been taught. Well I want to teach you that there’s more to this pose and that you can get so much more from what can just feel like standing there if you aren’t given good instruction.
I’ll start at your feet. You may or may not have heard the phrase “root to rise”. Imagine that your feet and toes are the roots of a tree. They push into the ground. Roots aren’t passive. They’re digging into the dirt. You’re feet and toes shouldn’t be passive either. You want all four corners of your feet to press into the ground like roots pressing into the dirt. Lift your toes and spread them. Root them into the ground when you put them back down. If you have a partner in the room, have them place their hands on the top of your foot, fingers toward ankles, and press down just a little. Just feel the strength of pressing into the earth. Just doing this should already make you feel more stable or mountain like, but you haven’t seen anything yet!
Your hips should be over your ankles and your knees should be slightly bent. To get even more strength and stability you’re going to engage your quadriceps. When you engage your quadriceps you should feel a little extra stretch in your hamstrings. If you have tight hamstrings, engaging your quadriceps will help give you length. You aren’t done with the legs yet though. You will also want to engage your inner thighs and turn them toward the back of the room. It won’t be a big movement and you’re feet or knees shouldn’t move, but you should feel yourself pressing. How strong do your legs feel right now!!! You now have a very stable base. I hope you feel super strong. This is not a passive pose!
Now place one hand on your lower back near your tailbone and one hand on your navel. Rotate your navel in and upward while feeling your tailbone rotate down and forward. You want to feel your pelvic floor muscles engage as well as your abdominals. If when you do this your lower ribs also move forward you will need to tuck them back inline over your hips. You want a strong core to go with your strong legs. You’re a mountain! And as you feel the strength in your front body, feel for the stretch in you’re back body. There is strength and length to each pose and if you stop to feel them you’ll figure out how you can add more of each in your particular body.
Now, the way that I’m going to tell you how to get your shoulders in the right position may not be necessary each time that you get into the pose, but it’s a good way to learn how the pose is supposed to feel. Raise both hands straight out in front of you, shoulder width apart, with palms facing each other. Then push the upper arm bones straight back into their sockets. You might want to do that a couple of times if you have rounded shoulders (like I tend to). You should feel yourself stand up straighter. Your chest should push forward. Mind your core and rib cage and readjust them into their proper position if you need to. Feel the shoulder blades react and squeeze when you do this motion. You can then slowly move your hands into the anatomical position (where they are beside your body with palms facing forward). Take a minute to rotate your palms in this position to feel why it’s so important to have palms facing forward. Palms forward automatically opens up your shoulders.
You’re final step is to deal with your neck and head. You want the crown of your head to face toward the sky. The back of your neck should be nice and long. Sometimes I like to reach up and just massage the vertebrae and get a feel for my neck in this position. And because this can be a lot to concentrate on, relax your face. Relax your throat and jaw. Relax your eyes and just breathe. Feel the strength that is your body. Feel the length that has been created. Relax into mountain pose without compromising form.