I’ve recently started my YogaWorks 200 hour Teacher Training with teachers Alex Crow and Mia Togo. It has already been a transformational experience for me, expanding my knowledge of yoga as a practitioner, but also as a (possible) future yoga teacher. One of the very first things you learn in YogaWorks Teacher Training (YWTT) is the importance of setting up the right foundation in a students yoga practice, starting with Tadasana (mountain pose). At first blush this can seem like an easy pose, or a transitional pose between other asanas or vinyasas. On the contrary, this pose should not be overlooked as it can be incredibly powerful and energetic, and if done properly, can strengthen and enhance the rest of your yoga practice.
In a properly aligned Tadasana, the spine is in its optimal position (natural curves of the spine are present) and the body is anatomically correct (balanced and symmetrical). Things you should keep in mind while standing in Tadasana:
Feet/ankles – Bring the big toes to touch. Heels should be in line with your second and third toe. Lift the inner arches and firm the outer ankles in. Weight should be balanced in all four corners of the feet allowing you to feel grounded and balanced.
Legs – Lift the knee caps while engaging and firming the upper thighs.
Hips – Your pelvis should be in a neutral position. Do this by lifting the frontal hip points up and bringing the tailbone down toward the heels. Be aware if you tend to over-arch or over-tuck your pelvis.
Abs – Engage the lower abs and transverse abdominus (think of tightening your waist all the way around, like you would a corset). You should do this in almost all poses as it helps to support your lower back.
Upper Body – Keep the collarbones wide, lift the sternum, and bring the shoulder blades down the back away from the ears. Externally rotate from the shoulder girdle so the palms work toward the front of the room or away from your body.
Tadasana can be seen as a “blueprint” for other poses because a lot of the same actions that you use in Tadasana are required in other poses for proper alignment. For example, while in tree pose (Vrksasana), engage your standing leg and foot as you would in Tadasana and you might find that you feel more balanced and stable in the pose. Now that I am aware of how powerful Tadasana can be in my practice, I try to apply it to other moments in my life when I need to feel balanced, stable, and take a strong stance.