“…we human beings live between the two realities of earth and sky. The earth stands for all that is practical, material, tangible, incarnate. It is the knowable world, objectively knowable through the voyages of discovery and observation.”
BKS Iyengar, Light on Life, p. 5
What better way to come to know the world and yourself then through the practice of tadasana, Mountain Pose. Tada means mountain, and it creates the image of something dense, broad-based, ascending towards the sky. This pose is also known as samasthiti. Sama means upright, straight, unmoved. And sthiti means standing still and steady.
This is where all asana begins, where we explore our connection to the earth, and extend through the crown of the head towards the sky. And in-between we cultivate an authentic consciousness of extension and expansion. For practitioners, beginners and experienced alike, it is an energizing practice to come from your normal “how you stand” into tadasana.
The instructions are simple (from LOY, .61)
- Stand erect with the feet together, the heels and big toes touching each other. Rest the heads of the metatarsals (the ball mounds) on the floor and stretch all the toes flat on the floor.
- Tighten the knees and pull the knee-caps up, contract the high and pull up the muscles at the back of the thighs.
- Keep the stomach in, chest forward, spine stretched up and the neck straight.
- Do not bear the weight of the body whether on the heels or the toes, but dispute it evenly on them both.
This last bit – standing evenly on the feet – is what stumps most people. Because of architecture (bone structure), musculature, habit, illness, worklife, hobbies, etc. we develop habits of the feet that ultimately leave us less connected to the ground.
On the mat.
- As you come into tadasana, bend forward and spread your toes, one foot at a time. Manually extend each toe forward.
- Then, manually extend the sole of each foot. Lift the metatarsals and – again, one foot at a time – spread and extend the skin of each sole forward.
- Then come to stand, and – keeping the toes extended, metatarsals spread, sole extended – lift the heel (one at a time) and reach it back. Then, lean down into both heels evenly without lifting the front of the feet off the floor.
- Observe – your feet, calves, knees, thighs, hips, front and back of the torso, up through the crown of the head.
- Observe – energetically, the breath, the gaze, the mind.
Off the mat.
Practice tadasana (without the manual manipulation of your feet) everywhere! Standing in line at the grocery store, washing the dishes, where-ever there is an opportunity to stand still, upright and strong.
From Rumi, the Sufi poet:
Where ever you you stand
Be the soul of that place.
See you on the mat.