Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Mountain Pose

It seems so simple as to hardly be a pose. But this basic posture contains the secrets of how to hold yourself in countless other poses.


Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose) seems pretty straightforward. The foundational posture asks you to stand upright with your feet facing forward parallel to each other and your arms at your sides, palms facing forward. But there’s actually a lot to pay attention to in the basic pose.

“On the outside, Mountain Pose looks extremely simple,” says Stephany McMillan, founder of Rise and Flow Yoga in Greensboro, North Carolina. “But internally, the muscles are active, strong, and working hard. Over time, I have learned that the best way to think of Mountain Pose is to be mindful of the muscles that should be engaged and strong, but be extra mindful of the areas that should be tender and soft.”

The interplay of effort and ease is something that you’ll experience in almost every yoga pose. Mountain Pose allows you to practice the principles of balance, alignment, and select muscle engagement, making it easier to come back to them later in other, more challenging yoga poses.

Section divider

Sanskrit 

Tadasana (tah-DAHS-ah-nah)

tada = mountain

asana = seat; posture

Section divider

Mountain Pose Basics

Pose type: Standing posture

Targets: Full body

Benefits: Mountain Pose improves your postural and body awareness. It helps you find alignment by asking you to stack your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. And it can counter the effects of prolonged sitting at a computer by reminding you what it feels like to release your shoulders away from your ears.

Learn more about finding alignment and balancing effort with ease in this pose in Mountain Pose: The Complete Guide for Students and Teachers. Access these and other expert insights from top teachers—including video instruction, anatomy know-how, variations, and more—when you become a member. It’s a resource you’ll return to again and again.

Section divider

How to do Mountain Pose

Video loading...
  1. Stand with your feel parallel, the bases of your big toes touching, and your heels slightly apart.
  2. Lift and spread your toes and then release them back down on the mat.
  3. Without pushing your lower front ribs forward, lift the top of your sternum straight toward the ceiling. Broaden through your chest. Allow your shoulder blades to draw toward each other and down your back, away from your ears.
  4. Let your arms relax alongside you, palms facing forward.
  5. Balance your head directly over your hips and gaze straight ahead. Breathe.
Section divider

Beginner Tips

  • To find better balance in Mountain Pose, place your feet hip-distance apart— about where they naturally fall when you walk forward. Keep your hips, knees, and feet facing the front of the room.
  • Rock gently back and forth and side to side on your feet. Gradually reduce the sway and come to a standstill with your weight balanced evenly across your feet. Root down through all edges of your feet. Feel the energy draw from your feet up through your core.
  • Ask a teacher to stand beside you and confirm that your ears, shoulder joints,  hips, and ankles are in a straight line.
  • Lengthen through all sides of your neck and rest your gaze on a fixed point straight ahead while in Tadasana.
  • Elongate from your pelvis through the top of your head. You’ll notice where your body is tugging from stress or lack of movement, explains McMillan, who can notice when her mind is not present by how tightly she’s clenching her jaw.

Common Misalignments

  • Notice if your shoulders are tense and lifting toward your ears. Draw your shoulder blades down.
  • Yoga teacher Alexandria Crow advises you to avoid the common cue “tuck your tailbone” in Tadasana. This flattens your lumbar spinal curve and pushes your hips forward, which prevents you from forming a long line from your feet through the crown of your head. She also says not to roll to the outside edges of your feet or distribute your weight unevenly. This will interfere with the structural stability of every joint above your feet.
  • Your mental state affects your posture. And vice-versa. “If you feel fatigued, defeated, or depressed, you might stand in Tadasana with slumped shoulders and a collapsed chest,” explains Ray Long, MD, in Anatomy for Vinyasa Flow and Standing Poses. “Conversely, the form that you create with Tadasana influences your mental state. Draw your shoulders back and down to open your chest. This relaxed yet open position counteracts a defeated and slumped posture in both body and mind.” 
Section divider

Teaching Mountain Pose

  • There can be an unconscious tendency to round the shoulders while standing in this pose. Ask students to stand tall but without stiffness by lifting up through the top of the head and drawing the shoulders down toward the hips.
  • Watch students for pronation (the feet rolling in toward the arch) or supination (the feet rolling toward the outer edge of the foot). Remind them to ground down through all corners of the feet.
  • Encourage students to notice if they’re hyperextending, or locking, their knees. Remind them to take a slight bend in their knees.
Section divider

Mountain Pose Variations

Whether you are trying to improve your posture or address physical pain, these variations allow you to experience the pose in a way that supports your body’s specific needs.

Photo: Andrew Clark

Mountain Pose With Feet Hip-Distance Apart

Stand with your feet hip distance apart for a more stable base if you’re working on balance. It can also help relieve low back pain.

Photo: Andrew Clark; Clothing: Calia

Mountain Pose Against a Wall

Bring the back side of your body, from your heels to your shoulder blades, against the wall. It’s okay if not all parts of your body touch the wall.

Photo: Andrew Clark; Clothing: Calia

Mountain Pose in a Chair

Find a comfortable seated position in a chair with your feet directly underneath your knees. Lengthen the top of your head toward the ceiling to achieve a neutral spine. Avoid slouching.

Ideally your hips will be in line with your knees. If you are shorter, try placing blocks under your feet and a pillow behind your back for support. If you are taller, consider sitting on a folded blanket.

Section divider

Why We Love This Pose

“I used to get into Tadasana without really thinking. But once I dug deeper into my yoga practice, I realized there were so many minuscule movements I needed to be aware of in order to truly embody this pose: bringing my shoulders down, pulling my shoulder blades toward my spine, softening my knees. What had once been a simple beginning stance became, for me, a physical embodiment of inner stability, peace, and intentionality in my yoga practice and my life.”—Yoga Journal contributing editor Gina Tomaine

Section divider

Preparatory and Counter Poses

Tadasana is a prep pose for any standing asana. To prepare for this pose bring attention to breath, grounding, and alignment.

Counter Poses

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Learn more about finding alignment and balancing effort with ease in this pose in Mountain Pose: The Complete Guide for Students and Teachers. Access these and other expert insights from top teachers—including video instruction, anatomy know-how, variations, and more—when you become a member. It’s a resource you’ll return to again and again.

Section divider

Anatomy

Tadasana is the cornerstone of the standing poses. It is used in between standing poses as a physical barometer, a place of return where you can quietly assess how the body feels after a preceding asana.

In the drawings below, pink muscles are stretching and blue muscles are contracting. The shade of the color represents the force of the stretch and the force of contraction. Darker = stronger.

An anatomy illustration showing how your body works in Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
(Illustration: Chris Macivor)

The erector spinae are deep back muscles that extend from the skull to the base of the spine. They work with the muscles in the small of your back to lift the spine and hold you upright. The abdominal muscles running down the front of your body work with these back muscles to support and balance your torso. Together they draw your ribs downward.

The lower part of the trapezius, which spans your back, draws your shoulders down and away from your ears and lifts your chest. The rhomboids, which connect the shoulder blades to the spine, work with the mid-portion of the trapezius and draw the shoulder blades toward the midline of your body, which opens the front of your chest.

The muscles that keep the pelvis upright are located on both the front and back of the body. At the front of the pelvis is the psoas, and at the back are the glutei or the buttocks muscles. These two muscles balance one another.

The quadriceps muscles contract and straighten your knees. Meanwhile, the calf muscles are working quietly to balance your ankles on your feet, which are the foundation of the pose. All this time, the muscles on the top and bottom of the feet balance each other, grounding the pose.

If your legs tend to turn outward, the tensor fascia lata and the gluteus medius muscles at the front and highest points of the hip bones work to turn them inward.

Excerpted with permission from The Key Poses of Yoga and Anatomy for Vinyasa Flow and Standing Poses by Ray Long.

Mountain Pose in Practice

Mountain Pose is the basis of all yoga postures, so spend time grounding and aligning this posture from the ground up, and try to maintain the elements of engagement and alignment of Mountain Pose in all of your poses throughout your flow. Here are a few sequences to try:

Section divider

About Our Contributors

Teacher and model Natasha Rizopoulos is a senior teacher at Down Under Yoga in Boston, where she offers classes and leads 200- and 300-hour teacher trainings. A dedicated Ashtanga practitioner for many years, she became equally as captivated by the precision of the Iyengar system. These two traditions inform her teaching and her dynamic, anatomy-based vinyasa system Align Your Flow. For more information, visit natasharizopoulos.com.

Ray Long is an orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga, a popular series of yoga anatomy books, and the Daily Bandha, which provides tips and techniques for teaching and practicing safe alignment. Ray graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School and pursued post-graduate training at Cornell University, McGill University, the University of Montreal, and the Florida Orthopedic Institute. He has studied hatha yoga for over 20 years, training extensively with B.K.S. Iyengar and other leading yoga masters, and teaches anatomy workshops at yoga studios around the country.