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:

  1. Active static stretch
  2. Isometric contractions of all leg and hip muscles at once
  3. Attempted PNF contractions of all muscles and joints being stretched in Tadasana
  4. 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.

Find a Yoga Tune Up class or workshop near you.

Trina Altman

Trina Altman E-RYT 500, is an Integrated Yoga Tune Up® teacher trainer, STOTT PILATES® certified instructor, and a graduate of YOGAspirit Studio's 500-Hour Yoga Therapy Program. While at Brown University, Trina took a Kripalu yoga class which ignited her passion for the practice. She teaches weekly Yoga Tune Up® and Pilates Tune Up™ classes throughout Los Angeles, and trains yoga teachers in anatomy and in Yoga Tune Up® across the country. She is an Rx Series teacher trainer for Equinox, is on the faculty of Kripalu, one of the nation's premiere yoga institutions, and is a regular presenter at yoga and fitness conferences such as ECA, Yoga Alliance, SYTAR and many others. Trina's teaching fosters body cognition and self-discovery, firmly grounded in anatomical awareness. She builds bridges between the mystical and the pragmatic, and specializes in helping others to access their body’s tissues and their heart’s purpose.

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Alfredo Figueroa

I a a rib popper too. And before I did my teacher training I went from bikram to moksha and other types of hot yoga to asthanga.
I was completely lost I didn’t how to do a posture anymore, since the cues given in different school were alomost contradictory.

I came to understand that all bodies are different and the there is no final posture. The pratise is personnal and there is no end point. They key is balance. And thanks to anatomy, biomechanics and functionnal movements, we can acheive that.

Jean Eng

I relate to your article on so many levels! I too had earned and heard tadasana taught in so many different ways, and I know I was doing it incorrectly for my body for so long. There really are no universal cues for it and it really is important as a teacher to know how to look at each individual body to know how to do an instruct this “simple” posture.

Corey

A great article on a tough, foundational pose.Thanks for cutting though the confusion and providing context for this issue. So many people would benefit from getting their “ribs down”. Much more stable.

Kimberly Greeff

I was taught to tuck my tailbone down and then telescope my ribs up -while also expanding them. This left me a rib-popping yogini. A postural pattern that it’s taken 3 Rolfers to try and tame – it wasn’t until I took the YTU Teacher Training that I actually gained clarity with-in my own tissue. Nothing someone else could do could even touch the (in)sight I discovered. Really greatful to have found Jill and all of you!

Amelia

This gave me some good idea for sequencing for the YTU final, especially contractions of all the muscles of the legs.

Colleen Alber

I’m a rib popper too. And its bad. Someone could stay next to me and tap them back in every 30 seconds. Well, I’m working on it. What else in life’s positions may have cause this? I do yoga, but I haven’t been practicing forever. Desk work? I need a good cue / reminder to keep it in…Tubular Core really helps (although I have to think about it constantly). Any other tips beyond what’s outlined above to help?

Jenni

I love the YTU tadasana! And the way you taught it to us during our training was so powerful. I felt my hips contract a full 360 degrees around my hip sockets and I felt a sense of comfort & ease in the pose despite the conscious muscular effort the pose required. I can’t wait to work with this style of embodying the pose more. Thank you, Trina!

Mary

Thank you Trina! So many different approaches and cues can be so confusing! And then you end up thinking so much about it all that you lose your intuitive body movement and nothing feels right. Thank you for sharing. I’m in the YTU TT now and believe that through the training I will reconnect to my body’s natural language in Tadasana and beyond!

Mary

Amazing what a difference it makes when you wake up your body in this active Tadasana- not just another resting pose.

Gabrielle Acher

I too have stepped into multiple yoga classrooms to experience different types of hatha based yoga. Their does seem to be an overlap with their differences. I am a new trainee of Yoga Tune Up and I have such a clearer idea of how to hold my body in space now. Hats off to new knowledge!

Elizabeth Whissell

I can certainly relate from the perspective of a teacher. Having all those different body types in a room can be confusing. I found that teaching the concepts of a tubular core is probably the easiest approach. Once students grasp the tubular core (and it’s certainly not always instantaneous), then their Tadasana shapes up dramatically. However, there is always that one student that is practically doing a crunch while standing, over activating their rectus abdominus. That’s why it’s a yoga practice, gotta keep at it!

Lou Shapiro

Trina, many of us can relate to the sometimes conflicting cues from a variety of instructors, & on the other hand, from following the same cues to a pose in a group class for so long that we go too far & begin to do damage & need to draw in other components of the pose. Perhaps not to the extreme degree of your experience, however. : ) This blog entry is a perfect example of the vast resources of anatomical wisdom available thru Yoga Tune Up®. Wow! Thank you.

Amanda

One of the things that really hit home for me with the tubular was integration. As a yoga teacher we work with so many different bodies and whilst there might be general guidelines, everyone is going to need more or less of a particular action. The use of tubular core provided me will a really strong visual – imagining your torso was in a tube and you are trying to fill the tube while still keeping all the natural curves of the spine. Its been great for my own practice and for my students.

Linh Taylor

This version of teaching tadasana makes sense to me. Tucking tailbone alone without activation of the tubular core will not give tadasana enough of a structural support. I’m guilty of teaching it the old way for so long. Tadasana is basically yoga off the mat. Tadasana itself should be the daily dose of treatment for chronic back pain.

Nadjiba Medjaoui

Thanks for the great article…I am a new yoga teacher and I struggle with teaching Tadasana. I always have the feeling that my instructions are not precise and clear. I definitely feel that I have more tools now and will try it next time i teach.

Lindsay Smith

Coming from a myriad or yoga traditions and movement backgrounds, I can absolutely relate to your yoga journey. I have felt the same plith within many as the Tadasana cues seemed too big-pictures and didn’t address the needs of the many beautiful students. I greatly resonated with Yoga Tune Up’s Tadasana cues as it individually addressed each body, while still speaking to the entire class. And – Wow! I can’t remember the last time I worked that hard in Tadasana. My students have been loving it! It’s always fun when you get a group working this hard and concentrating on… Read more »

Sunina Young

Yes, yes! Thank you so much for this. I tried doing “tadasana” instead of cueing myself “tailbome tuck,etc” in my plank to chaturanga during slow flow and this helped tremendously. My chaturanga felt more solid and I didn’t feel that I was dropping at all. Kay Kay taught us tadasana cues our first day and that has helped tremendously as I begin to practice teaching as well. Always an inspiration. Thank you Trina****!!!!

Sunina Young

Yes, yes! Thank you so much for this. I tried doing “tadasana” instead of cueing myself “tailbome tuck,etc” in my plank to chaturanga during slow flow and this helped tremendously. My chaturanga felt more solid and I didn’t feel that I was dropping at all. Kay Kay taught us tadasana cues our first day and that has helped tremendously as I begin to practice teaching as well. Always an inspiration. Thank you Jill!!!

Diane M

I really appreciated this article. Since I come from an Exercise Phys./Personal Training background with varied exposure to Yoga classes but only a limited background in (yoga) Teacher Training…. until Yoga Tune Up. My understanding of Tadassana from a Bio-mechanics point of view is probably pretty good, but the only CONSISTENT cues I’ve ever received were about active quads…. until Tune Up Tadassana. Thank you -this is a such an astute summary of this really, really essential issue — not just within Yoga practice or Yoga Tune Up activity—-but in daily posture/poise of life….

Aranzasu

I’m so excited to learn how difficult my Tadasana is for me after getting tips from Trina about how to keep my feet pointing straight. It requires a lot of adduction in the hips for me and external rotation of my feet. Hard hard work everyday and so exploring this concept to me is like eating ice cream. Thanks for writing this! So cool!

Tracy L

I have given so much more thought to this pose and the importance of this. I’ve had to rethink my Tadasana, equal standing pose or standing at attention. It’s become such a challenge and how the posture is built is not easy in my body. Thank you for bring this awareness and being such a great example in your own posture and Tadasana. So many thank yous for this!

Aida

Thank you Trina for your easy smile even in Tadasana Tune Up! i have learned sooo much from you and Sarah this past weekend! learning Tadasana intellectually as well as experientially is essential, but I am most impressed with how you both embody it throughout the day. I feel so fortunate to have such great role models for my mirror neurons to emulate! : )

Stephanie Fish

I can definitely relate to the myriad of directions from many styles and many teachers – who knew standing could be so complicated? I am happy to be learning the anatomical basis for what we do in YTU and how to help my students tune up their tadasana (and tune up how they do so many daily activities). Thank you for your teaching.

Marla Brackman

Although I don’t teach yoga, I do teach neutral standing position to my clients and class participants – essentially tadasana. I’m looking forward to using the information I’m learning from my YTU teacher training to help my participants understand their bodies better and sense what good posture feels like – their tadasana. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

Anh Chi

What I love about Tune Up Tadasana is how activating all the hip muscles seem to magically fix the position of my pelvis and aligns my spine. I think I tend to thrust my hip forward, over-anteriorly tilt my pelvis and then hang out with my shoulders jutted back and belly spilled out –very attractive. The isometric contractions in all six directions of movement tells me that I need to strengthen my hips esp the extensors and adductors in order to fix my posture!

Ariana

I am a yoga mutt and also hopped around to many different yoga schools and studios. I often found that Tadasana was taken for granted and often was not even taught. I am in the midst of my YTU training and absolutely love the tubular core concept. It makes so much sense!

Matthew

Wow, what great points for the western yogi to consider! We’re so lucky to have access to so many varieties, but there are complications in that access. I too have practiced and studied with many different lineage holders, and it is easy to get conflicting absolutes about the same asanas/poses or techniques. Using sound anatomical structure, held up to the questions of WHAT and WHY are you doing something, is where Yoga Tune Ups answers can safely clear things up. The well understood Tadasana practice from Yoga Tune Up (building properly stacked joint structure, muscle participation, consolidated around profound yogic… Read more »

Emily Sonnenberg

Never before has standing in one place been so hard. Tuning up your Tadasana works your core! Who would have thought that doing a PNF while standing in place would literally change everything you thought you knew about something we do all the time like standing up?! Our cues wont always be the perfect cue for everyone and I think we have to accept that. I find making my active verbs list so helpful then I can constantly come up with new ways to say the same thing and maybe THAT cue will finally pull the pose out of the… Read more »

Dawn McCrory

I love Tune Up Tadasana!! I taught it twice to patients already and it really helped them reset a new normal for their standing posture. This was especially helpful for someone really struggling to find their best posture… a little Tune Up Tadasana and… Ta Da!!! Much improved posture that is not overdone or unnatural. Thank you for the nice write up. Frankly, I never really understood what was meant in yoga class by Tadasana. I would stand at attention like a good little soldier. Happy to have a much better understanding and clearer vision.

Ann Taylor Lashbrook

Trina, I love this blog! I share many of the same experiences you has with Tadasana as well as lots of yoga jargon. Almost every yoga and Pilates teacher has told me to tuck my tail, and my lumbar spine was not happy. I love tuning up my Tadasana and connecting vs. tucking. Also, if we are to fine Tadasana in every pose, that would be pretty intense if we were posteriorly tilting our pelvis in all poses! Yikes!

Cindy

I don’t think absorbed much of the cuing in tadasana, maybe I was just so sure of what tatasana should be. This article brought to light how even what seems like the simplest of poses needs a lot of cuing. That’s what I’ve loved so far about the level one teacher training–learning what’s going on in the body and using technical language to help student’s get into a pose that works for them.So my vision of tadasana might not translate into my students bodies, I have to be open to new cues I get and see what works. I can… Read more »

susan

I really enjoyed this post. Tadasana is one of those poses people often just dismiss (“I know how stand up…what’s the big deal?) but when done with hip and leg isometric contractions, and especially the tubular core, it’s a whole different experience! Being mindful of what happens in the shoulder, in the neck, how the head is carried, what the feet are doing…there is so much going on in this deceivingly “simple” pose. Thanks for the wonderful breakdown.

Emma Fraijo

Thanks for breaking down tadasana from a YTU perspective. Until very recently, I thought that tadasana was a passive standing position. Some of my teachers would provide cues for the pose, while others would assume that we knew how to do it (since we were copying the basic gestures). WIth that said, I love how you focused on the muscles that need to be activated and how tadasana involves a variety of stretches and contractions to achieve the full pose. I look forward to seeing how I can take these ideas and continue to work on my tadasana in my… Read more »

Danielle

Thank you for the article! For me, one of the most interesting parts of our Yoga Tune Up weekend was noticing the radical differences in people’s bodies, and especially the spine. It will help us to know that there is not one template that all should conform to, and to find which verbal instructions work best for each individual.

Jamie

This was helpful for me to read, especially because I am currently in my teacher training and I know how important and key Tadasana is. It’s the first pose they had us teach in our training. Thanks for the tips!

Kate Kuss

Thanks for the post. Yoga Tune Up Tadasana addresses the core which I feel is missing in most styles. Tuck in the tailbone and pull the navel to the spine is what I usually hear. What about the clavicle? What about the upper ribs? Thanks

Amanda

I have been having these exact same questions, as I was taught tadasana one way by one teacher and another way by another teacher, and so on and so forth. Recently I have been working with a rolfer who said the the pose should be energetic and alive. Even though I had learned tadasana as an active pose, this language really had an impact on me and the way I feel in the pose. In regards to alignment, I’m still learning and feeling that out in my own body, but have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed tuning up my… Read more »

jillianfalzone

I have had many conflicting cues in this pose depending on the style of yoga or teacher. i had been instructed to tuck the tailbone to get rid of the lumbarcurve, then was instructed to not tuck so much by another teacher. Finally tadasana makes sense, so grateful to yoga tune up. Thanks Trina for the article!

Bella

So glad to know I am not alone in the confusion. There are so many different cues and I certainly don’t want to parrot memorized cues as they are not conveyed naturally and sincerely. Thanks for sharing!

Amanda WG

The craziest part of this all, is not only are there endless lineages/styles/teachers of yoga, every single body that practices yoga, and/or every body on this earth has a different version of the same “simple” tadasana. The easiest thing to do would be to go to the same class everyday with the same teacher… Which, well for the last year I’ve done; Mysore/Ashtanga is my daily practice, with, for the most part, the same teacher. However, I’ve noticed even sometimes my teacher changes his mind over time on the structure and/or the important aspects to any pose. Furthermore, as a… Read more »

Alex

I really relate to being a bit confused by the multitude of cues for tadasana etc. from different lineages. If a neutral balance posture is the goal, then it would follow suit that we have an anatomical answer. It’s great to have a sound direction to go when things are murky. Thanks!

Connie

Having lived in a number of different cities I’ve had a number of “home” studios and each and every time I make little adjustments to what I thought was the key the “correct posture.” I absolutely understand that feeling of confusion. I like the idea of incorporating self exploration and using resources and knowledge outside of the yoga community. It’s important to understand that not all bodies are the same but at the same time we aren’t that much different. I can see how it’s important to trust what works for your own body and use that as the springboard… Read more »

Marc

Tadasana is the basic math for asana practice. Before we can attempt algebra, we must first learn how to add and subtract. Tadasana is this springboard. Each body has its own neutral from which to begin. It is from that particular bodies neutral that alignment cues and more complex asanas can take shape. Once the student has this awareness, they can then shape and reshape while maintaining the basic structure of support.

Cathy Favelle

I taught tune-up tadasana in both my regular yoga class and my senior’s chair yoga classes today and they ALL loved it…they loved the connections to their bodies, the surprise of the work that was being done by what seemingly seems like “just standing” to an onlooker and they laughed when I pointed out how so many of them were “accessorizing their poses–fingers pointed out, funny expressions or even holding their breath. If I could sum up Tune-up Tadasana in one word it would be BRILLIANT!

Heidi Knapp

I enjoy this step by step breakdown, as this ‘easy’ pose takes a lot more mental work in my body. I think all the tools combined, cuing, alignment, breathing can create a happy tadasana for me. Specifincally the plumb line created between the cervix and heart.

Kristin Marvin

The intricacies of each pose is overwhelming even in the standing pose of tadasana. I didn’t realize PNF contractions helped with the pose. I am going to focus on one thing at a time in each pose so I can really feel it.

Gwen

I, too, have studied many different disciplines and occasionally have had questions about some of the differences in directions. I like that you did your own anatomical and personal experiential research to determine your Tadasana and the best way to guide your students there. I’ve had a wonderful therapeutics mentor whose philosophy spoke best to me regarding bringing the skeleton to a neutrally aligned position. She started supine and used breath to create space and then moved on to many other things I don’t have time to list here. (We once did a 2-hour workshop leading up to Tadasana.) I’ll… Read more »

Linda Webster

I can’t wait to implement the tubular core in my classes. I know that many of my students will definitely get it.

Heli

The more I practice and learn the more questions comes up.. It¨s greate and really love yoga..

Heli

Tadasana, it seems so easy pose, but really so many different moments to think about. One of my teacher always starts with the edict that “all poses are tadasana”. I think it is a simple and easy formula to follow. As we know, another name for tadasana is samasthiti, or equal standing suggesting a balanced body in all planes. We don’t meet many people who live in balanced bodies. We all tend to be too long in the front of the body and too short in the back of the body. The hamstrings, lower back and neck all tend to… Read more »