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Mountain Pose

The foundation of all standing poses, Mountain Pose makes a great a starting position, resting pose, or tool to improve posture.


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Though Tadasana (Mountain Pose) might seem simple, it is actually an essential pose for your yoga practice. It is considered the foundation for the many other standing poses in yoga.

There’s actually a lot to pay attention to in this seemingly straightforward pose. In Mountain Pose, you stand upright with your feet facing forward parallel to each other and your arms at your sides, palms facing forward. Because this pose requires you to keep the shoulders open and down, away from the ears, it promotes good posture. The empowering nature of Tadasana also enhances stability.

“I used to get into Tadasana without really thinking,” says Yoga Journal contributing editor Gina Tomaine, “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. Now Mountain Pose is one of my favorite poses.”

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Sanskrit 

Tadasana (tah-DAHS-anna)

tada = mountain

asana = seat; posture

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Mountain Pose basics

Pose type: Standing posture

Targets: full body

Benefits: Mountain Pose is a grounding foundational posture that improves your postural and body awareness. This pose can also boost your energy and fight fatigue—a trait it shares with other standing poses. If you find yourself spending much of the day in front of a computer, this pose can counter the effects of prolonged sitting and remind you of what proper alignment can feel like.

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How to

Woman demonstrates Mountain Pose
(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)
  1. Stand with the feel parallel, a few inches apart. (Alternately you may stand with the bases of your big toes touching, heels slightly apart.
  2. Lift and spread your toes and the balls of your feet, then lay them softly back down on the floor. Rock gently back and forth and side to side. Gradually reduce this swaying to a standstill, with your weight balanced evenly across your feet. Feel the energy draw from your feet up through your core.
  3. Without pushing your lower front ribs forward, lift the top of your sternum straight toward the ceiling. Widen your collarbones. Allow your shoulder blades to draw toward each other and down the back, away from the ears.
  4. Let your arms relax beside your torso, palms facing in or forward.
  5. Balance the crown of your head directly over the center of your pelvis, with the underside of your chin parallel to the floor, throat soft, and tongue wide and flat on the floor of your mouth. Soften your eyes. Breathe.
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Beginner tips

  • Your stance is extremely important. To begin with a balanced Mountain Pose: Place your feet where they naturally fall when you walk forward and leave a few inches between them. Keep your hips and knees facing toward the front of the room. Gently activate your core to keep your stance strong and retain the pose’s integrity, and prevent yourself from locking out your joints.
  • Open your chest as you pull your shoulders down away from your ears—don’t let your shoulders creep up and tighten up.
  • Ask a partner to stand beside you and confirm that your ear, shoulder joint, outer hip, and outer ankle bone are in a straight line.
  • Lengthen your neck and set your gaze on a fixed point in front of you. Breathe in and out, and let the breath bring you into the practice.

Common misalignments

  • Alexandria Crow, a yoga teacher, advises not to flatten your lumbar spinal curve by tucking your tailbone. This will push your hips forward and prevent 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. “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.” 

Be mindful!

  • To check your alignment in the pose, stand with the backs of your heels, sacrum, and shoulder blades (but not the back of your head) touching a wall.
  • Check to make sure the knees are directly over the ankles and your hips over the knees.
  • If it helps your balance, stand with your feet three to five inches apart.
  • Check that your pelvis is level with the tailbone and in a neutral position to allow the natural curve of the spine.
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Teacher tips

These tips will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:

  • Advise your students to be mindful of any unwitting tendency to round their shoulders or stand with a collapsed chest. But neither should they be ramrod stiff. Instead, focus on standing tall—pull your shoulder blades together at your back, soften your shoulders away from your ears, and lift up through the top of your head.
  • Remind students to keep feet pointed straight ahead and to stand strong in all four corners of the feet. Watch them for pronation or supination—rolling the feet in toward the arch or toward the outer edge of the foot.
  • Advise students to avoid locking the knees out in this posture, and to continually soften their knees as they breathe in and out.
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Mountain Pose variations

Even though it may seem like a simple posture, there are multiple variations to Mountain Pose. Whether you are trying to improve your posture or address physical pain, these modifications allow you to experience the pose in a way that supports your body’s specific needs.

Try one of these variations:

Mountain Pose
(Photo: Andrew Clark)

Mountain Pose with feet hip-distance apart

Try with your feet hip distance apart for a more stable base.

Mountain Pose on the Wall
(Photo: Andrew Clark; Clothing: Calia)

Mountain Pose against a wall

Bring your back to the wall. It’s OK if not all parts of your body touch the wall. You may want to try bringing a block between your shoulder blades for more space and stability.

Mountain Pose Seated
(Photo: Andrew Clark; Clothing: Calia)

Mountain Pose in a chair

Find a comfortable seated position in a chair with your feet directly under your knees, allowing a 90-degree angle or more at your knee joint. If possible, sit forward in the chair to avoid slouching. Lengthen the crown of your head upward to achieve a neutral spine.

If you are taller, consider sitting on a folded blanket. If you are shorter, try placing blocks under your feet to bring the knees in line with your hips. You can also place a pillow behind your back for support.

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Why we love this pose

“On the outside, Mountain Pose looks extremely simple, but internally the muscles are active, strong, and working hard. These three reminders help me initiate a firm Mountain Pose every time: Root through all sides of the feet as if I am grasping the ground with my ‘yogi toes.’ Externally rotate the quads aligning the knees and hips. Elongate from the pelvis through the top of your head. I notice where my body is tugging from stress or lack of movement. I notice when my mind is not present by how tight I’m clenching my mouth. 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.” —Stephany McMillan, founder of Rise and Flow Yoga in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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Preparatory 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)

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Anatomy

Tadasana is the cornerstone of the standing poses. It is used as a physical barometer, a place of return, between the standing poses. In this pose, you can quietly assess how the body feels after any 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 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. The pelvis is kept balanced because the psoas flexes the thigh, and the glutei make the thigh lengthen or extend. These two muscles balance one another.

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

The quadriceps muscles shorten to 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.

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

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

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

Put Mountain Pose into 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:

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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.