“The fundamental posture that governs all postures through its alignment and energetic qualities, is the mountain pose.” – Duncan Peak
As teachers and students of yoga, it’s always beneficial to go back to the fundamentals! And that is what the pose, Mountain Pose (Tadasana), can teach us.
In this seemingly simple pose, we physically ground down, while energetically lifting upwards. We engage the muscles around our joints for stability and strength, and we bring our attention to the most simple thing of all – our breath.
Why would we want to create Tadasana alignment in every pose? By engaging our muscles in the way that Tadasana teaches us, we can experience the full benefits of our poses. We create more strength, more stability, and more vibrancy, no matter the shape we take and no matter how “advanced” or “basic” the expression of the pose is.
Here are 4 essential Tadasana cues that you can focus on in any pose you come into! You will often hear these cues throughout your Vinyasa yoga practice, so here’s a closer look at them:
1. GROUND DOWN INTO ALL 4 CORNERS OF THE FEET
Every pose starts with our feet, so if the foundation isn’t strong, we can’t expect the rest of the pose to feel balanced! By grounding down into all 4 corners of the feet, we begin to stabilise (or create bandha) around the joints of our ankles and knees, which will impact everything else above.
By grounding into the heel of the foot, we engage the underside of our legs. So in a lunging pose for example, by grounding into your heel, not just the ball of your foot, you will make your hamstrings work for you, not just your quadriceps. By engaging this simple Tadasana cue at your feet, you are developing more strength in every standing pose.
2. SHOULDERS BACK/BROADEN THE COLLARBONES
With our lifestyles being so entwined with laptops and our phones, this alignment cue is more important than ever!
By drawing our inner and outer shoulders back, we activate the internal and external rotators of the shoulder joint. By focusing on this shoulder alignment on and off the mat, we will strengthen the muscles needed to keep our postures uplifted, healthy and vibrant.
3. DRAW THE PIT OF THE ABDOMEN UP/BELLY IN
Cues to engage through our core are so important whether we are arm balancing, back bending, twisting…any shape we make on our mat! By drawing our belly in and up, we create what the yogis call uddiyana bandha. This protects our lumbar spine (lower back) by ensuring there is spaciousness in our lumbar joints.
4. REACH THROUGH THE CROWN OF THE HEAD
This cue focuses on lengthening our cervical spine, giving us spaciousness and protection around our neck. It also encourages us to keep grounding down through our body, so we can keep lifting as tall as we can, creating as much space and stability in our spine as possible. It’s a beautiful metaphor for life, not just on our mats; we ground ourselves so we can lift higher.
Start by noticing how even just one Tadasana cue starts to change how your asana practice feels in your body. As you learn to engage Tadasana in every pose, while simultaneously keeping your mind anchored to your breath, your yoga practice will evolve to a whole new place.
“This posture governs all other postures, just as a large mountain does its surrounding landscape. Its essential alignment is the basis of aligning all the poses that we practice. When Mountain Pose is looked upon in this way, it makes it easier for beginners and also advanced practitioners to create safe and effective alignment positioning.”
– Duncan Peak, Modern Yogi