At the end of 2012, I gave birth to 6 ½ lb twins – and discovered first-hand the challenges of maintaining good posture when hauling that much baby around in your abdomen!  As I grew larger during my pregnancy, my ability to move decreased and the pull of the babies on my low back challenged the well-being of my spine.  Finding Tadasana (Mountain Pose) throughout the activities of my daily life became the mainstay of my yoga and movement practice to avoid back and other pregnancy related pains.

Spinal curves facilitate movement.

Spinal curves facilitate movement and help maintain balance.

Tadasana is neutral standing posture that supports and sleeves the natural wave-like curves of the spine. The curves in your spine allow your body to maintain balance in standing and sitting, move in multiple directions and act as a shock absorber, to more evenly distribute the strain and stress placed on the spine during movement and stillness. Maintaining the integrity of these curves sounds easy on paper, but can be hard under the best of circumstances—let alone with 10+ lbs of baby dragging your lumbar spine forward.  While my situation was prolonged and somewhat unique, we all place odd loads on our body with regular frequency, pregnant or not: lifting a potted plant to move it across your patio, sliding a dresser away from the wall to retrieve something that fell behind it, carrying a large box from IKEA into your home or something as simple as supporting the weight of your own head and torso as you lean over to brush your teeth at your sink.

The benefits of good posture are many – from reduced back pain, better breathing, more efficient digestion and elimination, injury prevention and more.  However, most of us have things in our lives that interfere with good posture, be it pregnancy, structural asymmetries like scoliosis or muscular weakness and imbalances caused by occupation or habits.  The fact that our feet, the foundation of standing and Tadasana, lose mobility in most stiff-soled shoes doesn’t help, as what happens downstream affects what happens upstream in our interconnected body.  In addition, most of us spend a lot of time sitting, which shortens our hip flexors (especially the psoas, which runs from your inner upper thigh to the vertebrae of your lower back)— which can create a pull on the lower back while standing—even without a load.  We need to be able to safely support the spine in a variety of movements, but stability and the basics of a neutral spine need to come before flexibility.

I wish I could share with you an instant recipe for good posture and while there are a number of ingredients that go into spinal mobility and stability, the recipe is different for everyone because we all are unique.  For instance, I also have slight structural scoliosis that causes flattening of my upper back and neck, so some things I work on will be different from somebody with kyphosis, an exaggerated thoracic curve.

That being said, there are a few common starting points.  All of us can benefit from regularly stretching our hip flexors in lunge-type poses to combat the hours we spend sitting. Crescent Pose and Ardha Apanasana on a Block are two great moves to lengthen your hip flexors.

Additionally, there is a universal benefit from core work that addresses the deepest abdominal layers.  These tissues run in every direction, so a wide variety of movement is necessary to target them.  Three of my favorite core exercises are Coreso Leg Lifts, Jithara Parivartanasana, and the Supta Padangusthasana Series, which also is great for learning to propriocept and maintain a neutral pelvis and healthy spinal curves.  (Note for pregnant yogis: at a certain point you want to minimize certain twisting actions and generally focus more on the obliques and transverse abdominus than rectus abdominus, so these poses might be modified or eliminated.  Check with your doctor and favorite yoga/fitness teacher for more guidance about this.)  Lastly, we all need to physically mobilize areas that are stuck.  I have not found a better tool for this than regular self-massage with Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls.

I was in great shape after my pregnancy—strong and able to shoulder (literally) the many physical demands of motherhood.  I credit this to the yoga and movement practices I had prior to conceiving and the focus I placed throughout my pregnancy on maintaining neutral posture and that work has not stopped. I continue to practice Tadasana now, often in squatting positions, which is perfect practice for lifting 30-pound toddlers up and down from the floor or in and out of cribs and car seats—sometimes while carrying gear.  Frankly, I have found motherhood to be infinitely more challenging to my body than twin pregnancy… but that’s a blog post for another day!

Come back on Friday to learn how to improve your standing posture to facilitate a healthy, happy spine and pregnancy.

 

Enjoyed this article? Read If these scars could talk – Post C-Section Recovery.

Gwen Yeager

Gwen Yeager-Stofko (E-RYT 500, C-IAYT) is a private and group Hatha Yoga Instructor, Certified Yoga Therapist and Integrated Yoga Tune Up® Teacher based in Los Angeles. Her classes blend ancient yoga philosophy, the teachings of 20th century "modern" yoga, and the latest research and science about yoga, movement, and the brain. Known for her understanding of anatomy and biomechanics, intelligent sequencing, clear instruction, warmth and humor, Gwen teaches newer yogis who want clear guidance in a welcoming environment, students with injuries and those managing chronic conditions, and athletes and yoga practitioners who want to deepen their practice by further refining their proprioception, posture, and understanding of the fundamental movements of their bodies. Gwen is a 2007 graduate of YogaWorks' 200-hour teacher training, and a 2008 graduate of YogaWorks' 300-hour professional program, where she mentored with Iyengar teacher Carmen Fitzgibbon. In January 2012 Gwen traveled to Kripalu to take the Yoga Tune Up® teacher training with yogi and fitness expert Jill Miller, a wonderful experience that deepened, refined and expanded Gwen's views on human movement and yoga teaching. Gwen has taken all associated YTU Immersions and regularly assists Jill at workshops and trainings. Gwen leads classes, workshops and trainings in Los Angeles and surrounding vicinities. gwenyeager.com

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Janeen Anhara Castillo

finding adasana in my daily life – i thnk this is such a better perpective for me as i really try to change ho i carry myself through my day.

Kate Clark

Good posture is a never-ending practice. Thank you for these useful tips!

Angela Yonkovich

I have scoliosis as well and Tadasana brings me back from bad postural habits. Tadasana reminds me to open and create space in my body in order to feel and function better. Practicing Tadasana has taught me I can improve my posture in a subtle and effective way rather than jerking my way into getting my back straight as my mom constantly demanded. I enjoyed and appreciate the article! Thank you!

Tessa Watson

Pregnancy is what caught my eye for this post. I am so glad you took it further into daily life of all people carrying heavy loads. I will especially bring this to prenatal classes, with the reminder that we aren’t here just to have this moment on the mat but to take it into daily life so that life after pregnancy can be healthier and stronger too. Namaste

Annette Allen

Great reminder-stretching my psoas in Crescent pose and apanasana are not only to help me move towards some more of the advanced yoga poses I’m working on, but also just for the basics of standing with the best form and posture I can. All poses are built from the foundation up. I am glad I learned how to use the block and the balls for Ardha apanasana. I stay much longer in the stretch.

Joy

Tadasana is such a great practice you can take everywhere with you to help you maintain spinal alignment and stability. I know exactly how pregnancy challenges spine well-being..I had triplets, so I can relate. I appreciate you listing YTU poses to practice to help with core strength which is so vital to this pose.

AnnMerle Feldman

I had not done much Tadasana in my previous practices and I am getting hooked on it now, especially when you add the wrapping of the tubular core. I can feel my torso strengthening and offering support and energy. I focused on this core movement this morning while out in the woods and doing step ups onto a fallen log. The core support changed the activity for me. I felt lifted internally and lighter and stronger and much more able to assist my gluteous maximus as I wrapped my core. Thanks for sharing!

Ashley Zuberi

What I love about Tadasana is how we can look at it in different planes of movement to get different perspectives of our spine with different forces of gravity and muscular engagement. Standing Tadasana gives us the foundation that can then be adapted with the help of the core musculature, hips, shoulders, and so much more. What a great reminder to come back to the basics when working with external and internal forces!

Sylvia del Valle Garcia

Thanks for a great article and a reminder of how important Tadasana is. The YTU Tadasana requires lots of physical activity as well as mental focus, building strength without moving an inch. My daughter has scoliosis and reminds herself continuously throughout the day to use Tadasana in order to cultivate a sense of inner poise from the pose.

Monique Blackman

Loved this!! What a great reminder about posture affecting digestion and elimination. We tend to forget about that and then wonder why things aren’t moving the way they should!! Great article about incorporating Tadasana everyday. thanks Gwen!

Alfredo Figueroa

I try to work on my tadasana inm y everyday life and i realize how imbalances in my core and back muscles affect my posture deeply.
Working on a specific YTU (where I worked with apanasa and some pranayama exercises) i realized how posture is important for now only general alignement but also for a good breathing diaphragm heatlh. I was astounded to see how my breathing was fuller, wider, bigger just so much more alive and sweet. God I want that everyday!

Tadasana guys. Tadasana.

Saho

Tadasana is very very important pose in daily our life. To stand properly is not easy not easy. Keep in mind what I learned from Yoga Tune up and Yoga practice to apply everyday to stand straight!

Jennifer Whalen

This article was super helpful for me. I am working on strengthening and stabilizing my structure because it is often in pain. Practicing Tadasana throughout the day seems like a good way to do this throughout the day. Thanks Gwen!

Monica

Tadasana seems so simple to create in the body. However, with our habitual standing habits (i.e. carrying children, a purse, hunching the shoulders forward to help stay warm in the winter) it can be quite challenging. It’s a great reminder to practice Tadasana in everything I do during the day. Bringing awareness to the imbalances and/or habitual patterns is the key bc once I was aware I could make adjustments once I felt my body ‘slipping’ into a misshaped form.

Giselle Mari

Tadasana is typically a pose that is not on the top 10 list of the loved and cherished. However, its an incredibly valuable, potent pose that influences every pose in a yoga practice. Its also the basis for great postural alignment. I’m grateful that you brought light and attention to this posture – but moreover that you tied this into pregnancy and its effects on the spine and core. I love the suggestions you provided, giving some great tips to help rebuild our posture.

Jean Eng

I wish I had Yoga Tune Up before I had my baby (who’s now 11). I had so much pain after I had my son and it has taken so many years for me to build by body back up, which I’m still doing. Even a simple pose like Tadasana is actually challenging for me. Slowly, but surely though, the corrective exercises from Yoga Tune Up and Roll Model massage techniques are helping me get to a better place in my body.

eneida cardona

I love this posture, during my teacher training I was reminded that we can find the basis of tadasana in every posture. As easy as it may seem this posture is a lot of work,I like the idea of teaching this foundation posture and following through with it throughout the class.
i really liked this blog post.

Patti Breitbach Rashid

Yes! Tadasana-not just a pose for yoga but a pose for life! Seems so easy yet it has so many components to it; so many things to remember.

Olga

Thank you for the article and pointing one more the importance of tadasana and good posture. Natural spine curves appear during the firs year of life. When a baby starts to lift his head – cervical lordosis appears, when he starts to seat – dorsal khyphosis, walking on knees creates lumbar lordosis and finally walking – sacrum and coccyx khyphosis. Nowdays we spend too much time sitting which exaggerate our dorsal khyphosis. And to compensate this disbalance other spinal curves get worse as well. With time it creates disbalance all over the body and a lot health problems.

Serge Goyette

Mountain pose a daily practice,, very good information here.. you are so right about Tadasana for me this is the ultimate pose because it grounds us to the basics of all the other postures..thanks

Gretchen Corbin

Thank you for the reminder of how important it is to practice Tadasana throughout the day. I struggle with muscle imbalances that pull me into poor posture. It often takes constant awareness and vigilance to keep ourselves in good alignment. If my mind is distracted or focused on something else, my sneaky body falls back into poor posture. I have a program on my computer that reminds me to take breaks every so often. I use those reminders as a time to recheck my posture. I hadn’t realized it, but what I’m doing is practicing Tadasana (even if I’m seated).… Read more »

Karen

Thanks for your post on Tadasana. At a glance this pose can appear to be so simple but you have outlined the importance of integrating muscles from the feet all the way through to the crown of the head to allow for a neutral, strong, functional spine.
This pose is a great one for allowing one to become aware of one’s posture and to adjust it as needed before beginning to move through this world. Thanks for sharing.

Julia Lamm

Yes Tadasana is a very powerful pose because it reminds us of our balanced posture when everything is in place starting from the ground up. We can constantly practice yoga just by doing Tadasana as we sit, stand, and do other activities. Thank you for sharing some practical poses that can improve our every day Tadasana. I will continue observing my every day Tadasana building up awareness of my bad habits that cause misalignments in my Tadasana.

Caroline

Thank you for your post on Tadasana! This is the pose that no matter how much I read up on it, I learn something new. Finding that balance is my never-ending quest to release neck pain. Keep learning and keep standing tall!

Amanda

THANK YOU!! When I start my practice with a strong awareness in Tadasana ( I call it TADA-sana, like a magic trick… corny… ok ok), the rest of my practice feels so much lighter than I’ve ever experienced when incorporating TADAsana in EVERY pose. It brings the balance, lift and pulling in both directions that is essential! Thank you for bringing attention to this!

Erin Hoien

Thank you Gwen for the reminder that Tadasana is a pose to be worked across the entire body. I sometimes catch myself just ‘phoning it in’ when my body and mind are getting tired. I too have scoliosis and I must take extra care to tune into the imbalances in my body, to feel my curves of my spine, to engage where needed and let go where needed.

MICHELLE

Tadasana is SO important. Its such a “basic” pose but I feel like that’s why its so important, as a yoga teacher and student, I use the fundamentals of Tadasana in most other asanas. I also make use of Tadasana at line in the grocery store or while I’m cooking, these times seem to be when I catch myself hunching over or leaning a hip to one side. Making an effort incorporate Tadasana, or the simple idea of a neautral standing posture that supports your spine and your body helps the whole body stay strong. thanks so much for sharing!

David D

When I really stop and think about what my day looks like, it’s no wonder I (and many others like me) have regular pain especially in the back. Slouching on the subway, crouched over a computer, walking and texting on my phone. We are almost never standing upright. And unfortunately, not everyone can be in the studio every day or do that as a living. However, this post makes a great point about how even if we can’t be in the studio, we can still incorporate poses into our lives. Something as seemingly simple as Mountain Pose, can do wonders.… Read more »

Dawn Mauricio

I, too, try to integrate Tadasana, and if not all of it then at least parts of it, as often as I can throughout my day whether I’m at my desk, walking down the street, waiting in line, or carrying a big bag. Doing so has allowed me to find out where I compensate and where I slack. The core is a major area of work for me! When carrying heavy loads (backpacks, etc.) I tend to go into a larger lordosis and let my belly go, which is essentially making me more vulnerable to injury. I appreciate reading about… Read more »

Susan

Thank you for this reminder of how important Tadasana is in everyday life! I also credit my physical health and general well-being after the delivery of my 7.5 lb daughter to my yoga practice. My prenatal instructor stressed the importance of not allowing your hips to externally rotate when walking (“i.e. waddling”) or allowing your your upper body and torso to settle into your hips. Being conscious of the length in my spine and strength in my core helped limit unnecessary pain during pregnancy and after.