Many schools of yoga have their own formula or recipe of “cues” to get students into Tadasana/ Mountain Pose. The purpose of Tadasana from a strictly anatomical perspective is to teach proper postural alignment, i.e. a biomechanical neutral position of the muscles, bones, joints and tissues. Once the structural anatomy of Tadasana is understood and embodied, it creates healthy breathing habits and positively affects your mood. Additionally, you can be calm, happy and healthy not just in the pose, but also when you stand in line at the grocery store reading Us Weekly magazine.
If you are a yoga seeker/explorer like me, and you study with teachers from multiple schools and yogic lineages, you are given different cues in Tadasana. I lived in FIVE different states over the course of nine years. Because of this, I had the opportunity to study with many teachers from varied backgrounds. Some places I lived had more Bikram, Ashtanga, and Power Yoga teachers and studios, others had more Anusara, Kundalini and Iyengar teachers and studios. Sometimes I felt like a bouncing ball ping ponging all over the country from style to style and studio to studio. Other times, I was grateful for the opportunity to explore so much and then be able to decide for myself which methods resonated most with my body, mind, and soul at the time.
As you can imagine, being a diligent student of so many different schools of yoga for many years was CONFUSING! By the time I completed my 200 and 300 hour teacher trainings, I had memorized the cues to teach Tadasana from my training as well as the other Tadasana cues from other lineages. The problem was that I didn’t know what was “right” or “wrong” for my body or my students’ bodies, because the cues were universal or energetically esoteric. Unfortunately, those cues were unhelpful when teaching to a room full of uniquely beautiful bodies.
On the home front, I knew I was a “rib popper” and that the external rotators of my shoulders were in a state of overuse at the time (see my blogs: “Happy Tail vs. Sad Tail: Which Way Do You Tilt?” and “Are Your Shoulders in Your Back Pockets?”). Was I a “bad student” if I didn’t open my heart, lift my sternum, and outer spiral my arm bones during Tadasana after the teacher cued it?
Once again, I searched outside of the yoga community and dogma of guru lineage for some unbiased anatomy-based answers. My Pilates teacher, Rise Karns Stokstad, taught us anatomy in my STOTT Pilates teacher training, and I went to her twice weekly for privates. She helped me to shine a light on my own good and not so good postural habits, and how to practice Tadasana, while maintaining the normal curves of my spine.
The next step was that I needed to be able to teach Tadasana in a group class to a room full of individually different bodies. As they say, “Ask, and you shall receive.” During my Yoga Tune Up® teacher training, I learned “implied anatomy” and how to coagulate complicated anatomical concepts into simple and easy to perform poses such as Tadasana. Tuning up your Tadasana involves a heightened activated stance that coordinates the following:
- Active static stretch
- Isometric contractions of all leg and hip muscles at once
- Attempted PNF contractions of all muscles and joints being stretched in Tadasana
- A Tubular Core (see my blog called “Navel to Spine: Are You Hyperventilating Yet?”)
All of the above are done with Unmani Mudra, which is an attitude of relaxation.
Read about the most important part of a yoga pose.
Learn about Yoga Tune Up at home.