Standing in the calm and steady of a mountain, whether it’s a majestic peak or a soft, green bluff, is where I find peace. Mountains inspire us, move us into awe and inspiration, make us feel solid and grounded, and remind us of the ancient force that can sustain whatever comes. When we do the yoga pose Tadasana we are reminded of these qualities.
Tadasana is the most fundamental asana in practice. This seemingly simple form can create a blueprint for our other asanas. Tadasana remains elusive for many practitioners. Tadasana’s strength, ease, and stability are often challenging to achieve.
Ashton Szabo, an anatomy expert and yoga instructor, explained that we often feel unstable and overworked in Tadasana because many lock our knees and internally rotate our legs while in the pose. This causes the pelvis and core to lose power and cause the pelvis and legs to rock forward.
Szabo says that to further stabilize your legs, pelvis, and core, you should “gently screw” your heels and feet into the floor. You may have heard this action referred to by other teachers as “grounding down through the corners of your foot.”
It will also help you to activate the external rotators in your hips. This will help to keep your legs active and allow for more dynamic stability.
Szabo explained that once you feel “screwed” in, bend your knees slightly to see your knees track in the direction of your feet and to feel how stable and smooth the feeling is in the legs and the knees. This is achieved by stabilizing the hips.
Szabo explained that when we treat Tadasana more as a stabilizing and grounding experience than just a muscular exercise, the shoulders are flattened, and the heads of the arms rest back in the shoulder socket. The head can then be drawn back to align it with the spine. “With a slight engagement between the lower traps and rhomboids, the shoulder blades will settle on the back of the chest and widen the front.”
It is important to understand the pose, but I have found that over-engaging it can cause you to move further away from the stability and grounding that the mountain represents. We rotate, engage, tuck, and lift while moving away from embodiment. As a teacher of yoga, I see this. In a yoga class, I invite students to Tadasana multiple times. Instead of settling into the pose and feeling full, students pull away or express frustration. They want to get on with something else and don’t like to waste time standing still.
Years went by, and I was still the same. Standing in Tadasana is a challenge. How can I find the perfect stillness and majesty everyone talks about by adjusting, shifting, and changing? After over 20 years, I finally landed in Tadasana. Everything changed when this happened. After I honored my right and trusted the ground underneath me, I became more aware of all the intuitive and natural ways my body is strong and stable. I felt connected to the mountain’s pulse that had drawn me in for a lifetime.
Tadasana transformed when I realized that the pose was not the only thing to be done. It is now a place for deep nourishment and restoration in my practice. Interesting shifts occur when I allow my cells’ intelligence to re-calibrate and stand fully on my feet. My pelvis expands without effort, and my core awakens, allowing me to maintain the connection with the ground beneath me. I feel capable of holding all of my ” stuff ” rather than feeling burdened or overwhelmed by its weight.
My sternum lifts, my spine extends, and my breathing deepens when I am in Tadasana. My neck lengthens, lifting my crown to the sky. I can feel myself reaching out and connecting with the unshakeable earth below me and the vast expanses of the sky above.
The ancient stability encoded in the cells of our bodies becomes evident when we embody Tadasana. We are reminded of the importance and power of our presence. We are more attuned to the ease and power of fully embracing our form and taking our time. We start to feel comfortable in our bodies again. As the foundation of all asanas, Tadasana allows us to let go of the need to achieve a perfect pose. It also helps us to connect to our inner beauty.