Tadasana is also called mountain pose. It is the most basic yoga standing pose, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it is easy. A properly done tadasana works every muscle in the body, as well as your mind. This is why tadasana is included in the advanced yoga for back pain series. Everything you learn in tadasana is applied when you do the other standing poses, so pay careful attention and don’t hesitate to re-read this article as you need.
In tadasana, one stands upright against gravity in alignment. The feet are planted firmly on the floor. As the feet provide the foundation of the pose, even the smallest shift in their position will create posture changes further up the kinetic chain, affecting the legs, pelvis and back. Conversely, standing with a stable, balanced foot alignment will help you address imbalances of muscles that cause back pain. This is done when, in order to come into the pose, tight muscles stretch, and/or weak muscles work harder than usual.
There are three points on the bottom of each foot that should feel anchored into the floor: the mound of the big toe, the mound of the little toe and the center of the heel. (Mounds are located behind the toes themselves, and you can feel and see them as rounded masses.) Doing mountain pose with correct foot position and attention to the legs, arms and torso will begin to address postural and muscle strength imbalances above the feet.
If you think of pinning the shoulder blades together in the upper back, it will help you widen your collar bone, as the instructions for tadasana state. Attention to this detail will help address any tendency you may have toward kyphosis, or hunchback. Kyphosis is a result of spending a lot of time at the computer, driving, or reading.
Beginners and people with back problems should apply some tension to the muscles around the joints. This helps build strength and awareness. As you progress in your yoga practice, you can learn how to relax joints while keeping them stable. In the beginning, though, it is best to try for active muscles.
Thinking of dropping the tailbone is a way of relaxing this tiny but influential part of your spine. It is not possible to force the tailbone in any direction, or to move it consciously. Dropping the tailbone to move it forward happens more as a release of the soft tissue that connects it to other parts of the pelvis. But once the tailbone releases, it can help you accomplish an active and balanced mountain pose.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
As with any yoga posture, breathing is your helpful friend. Even though you may feel you are “just standing there,” you are really being quite active. Paying attention to breath will get you through the pose. It can also help you deepen the pose, which will bring more benefits.
Kapandji, I.A., "The Physiology of the Joints". Fifth Edition. Churchill Livingstone. English Edition 1987. New York.
Coulter, H.D., "Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: a Manual for Students, Teachers and Practitioners". Body and Breath. 2001. Honesdale, Pa.