The “easier” an asana looks and the less “cool” it appears in Instagram photos, the greater the likelihood it is avoided in practice. A posture like Mountain Pose, or Tadasana, appears easy and attainable for all levels of yogis, so it can be easy to hit autopilot on Mountain Pose during asana practice.
However, Mountain Pose is a fundamental asana for all levels of yoga practice and has many physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. It is incorporated as part of the 12 traditional power poses in Sun Salutation A because of its beneficial qualities for the mind, body, and soul.
Standing tall like a magnificent mountain, weight equally balanced in both feet, toes in alignment with each other, lift the inner ankles to strengthen the inner arches, and lift the thighs up toward the hips. Lengthen the spine and the crown of the head toward the sky, and allow the belly to soften for easy breathing. Open the collar bones, shoulders together and down the spine, and open the heart towards the sky, shining brighter with each breath.
There are many variations for the arms in Mountain Pose, although my favorite is standing anatomically with palms facing forward to help open the heart and send energy down the arms as they reach toward the earth.
Like all asanas, yogis can increase the benefits of this posture with intentional breathing, a focus on energy flow, and mantra practice.
Mountain Pose promotes many physical benefits including strengthening your thighs, knees, and ankles. Stillness can cultivate space for the body to pause and rest for digestion and circulation. Mountain Pose activates the body and engages the inner fire to expel dreariness and depression.
Additionally, it is a cardiovascular workout to stand tall and solid like a mountain.
Mountain Pose inspires many mental benefits including increased awareness of the mind and body connection. While standing tall and grounded is a powerful pose, opening the collar bones increases vulnerability and can make the asana ideal for fostering gratitude and motivation.
Tadasana helps decrease anxiety through increased focus on breath control. It also helps enable the body to move more freely as you build a more secure and grounded practice. In time, practicing Mountain Pose strengthens our senses so we can better notice without judgement.
Mountain Pose cultivates many spiritual benefits, specifically prana, the life force of the body attained from air.
Pranayama is made up of prana, the vital life force, and yama, the practice of control and mastery. Pranayamas are controlled breathing exercises for purification, so when we breathe in, we increase the prana within the body. To help advance the spiritual benefits of breath in Mountain Pose here is a brief description of the five movements or functions of prana known as vayus, or winds:
- Prana vayu is an energizing force, focusing on inward and downward movement of energy, linked to the head, lungs, and heart, and can show up as anxiety, fear, and anger when imbalanced.
- Udana vayu is responsible for respiratory functions and growth, focusing on upward movement of energy, and is located in the throat, diaphragm, and head.
- Vyana vayu is movement throughout the body, energy distribution outward in a circular motion, and is located primarily in the heart and lungs.
- Samana vayu is movement of energy toward the center of the body in a churning motion and is associated with digestion.
- Finally, Apana vayu is associated with downward and outward energy, elimination, and is located in the abdominal and pelvic zones.
Tips to Advance Your Mountain Pose
- Instead of focusing on what you can add to make it more challenging and intense, maybe focus on what you can mentally, physically, and spiritually let go of and notice what you are holding onto in Mountain Pose.
- Foster the movement and flow of energy in Mountain Pose and allow that to guide your practice, noticing the power of prana increase with each intentional breath.
So the next time you practice yoga, don't just mindlessly flow through Tadasana. Take a moment to focus on this pose, and everything you stand to gain from practicing it mindfully.
How has Mountain Pose helped your practice? We would love to hear in the comments below!