Mountain pose, tadasana, teaches you how to stand firm and tall. But the posture rarely gets the attention it deserves, both in and out of class.
Tadasana commands awareness and attention towards the body in time and space as you experience it off the Yoga mat – standing up. This is more demanding on our attention span than, say, downward facing dog, where the physicality of our position is more abstract relative to our daily experience.
Standing still whilst paying attention to and engaging all the areas of the body you are accustomed to switching off — pulling up the thighs, sucking in the belly (uddiyana bandha), tightening the buttocks, and activating through the arms etc. — takes a great degree of mental focus and practice.
There exactly lies its benefits. Overcoming distraction and the habitual nature of how we effortlessly hold our body in time and space is not easy. That’s the real Yoga bit.
As with all postural practice, we are rewiring the brain’s relationship to body through disciplined, repetitive rehearsal.
There is one use of prop in tadasana that will get you to realising its complexity pretty quickly, whilst helping you stay in it for longer — the humble block:
- Standing in tadasana, place a block between the tops of your thighs, skinny way in.
- Internally rotate the thighs to pinch the block, holding it firmly in place, so I wouldn’t be able to push it out from you.
- Stay put whilst working on the alignment: feet in line, engaged thighs, belly in, bandhas on, finger tips trying to touch the ground beneath – creating length, space & strength in every direction.
- Do it all with focused awareness. Keep gripping the block with your thighs!
- Remain for 5 minutes. What do you learn?
Tadasana is not an easy pose. Standing correctly is truly an art.
As always please comment and share your thoughts.