I have a pretty big soft spot for mountains. I lived in the Rocky's for over eight years, and those mountains always brought me so much peace and healing. And now when I go back to visit, I still get this strong feeling of home.
On some level, the same is true whenever I do when I do Mountain Pose or Tadasana.
At first glance it seems like a very basic yoga posture. I mean, you are just standing there. But the secret, magical thing is that you are not just standing there. You are bringing your body back into alignment, or a neutral position that serves as a counterpose to any negative patterns in the fascia (or connective tissue) that have been created. In a way, you are coming back home.
Let me break it down for you. Imagine your body like a sailboat. When you pull on one rope, a sail goes up. When you let go of that rope, the sail goes down. The sails are always responding to the tension of the rope.
The same is true in your own body. If you lean on one leg all of the time, the opposite hip goes up and becomes tight. If you tend to should pain on one side, the other shoulder responds. Your body is always trying to balance out the tension, thus creating odd compensation patterns that continue to create more pain and dysfunction.
Mountain Pose is a simple, yet profound way bring the tension back to neutral and balance it out in a healthy way. Yes, it is subtle. Yes, it takes time. But I can say from personal experience that it works. I come back to mountain pose regularly throughout my day, and it has made the world of difference with my hip and leg pain, but also the quality of my body overall.
Here are the steps I teach to create a stable and aligned Mountain Pose.
1. Stand with your feet about the width of two fists apart and distribute your weight equally throughout your foot. Have the weight distribute through the base of the big toe, the base of the pinky toe, and the heel.
2. Once the feet are stable, focus on the knees. Make sure they are not hyperextending. Bend the knees just enough so they are not locked.
3. Bring the hips to a neutral position. Make sure your pelvis isn't tipping to far forward or back.
4. Check in with your rib cage. Try to have it float right over your pelvis, and make sure you aren't hyperextending your back.
5. Bring your shoulder blades together and down the back, resting them softly so your chest can be open and relaxed.
6. Float your head back, creating a nice and long line along the back of the neck and your head isn't jutting out too far forward.
7. Now observe. Take a few deep belly breaths. Notice how this feels. Notice how the longer you hold it, the more your body wants to pull you back into a pattern. Take in that feedback, but gently hold this pose for a few deep, long breaths.
Start to become aware of how you are standing, in the grocery store line, doing dishes, even standing all cool at your upright desk. If we aren’t standing in a healthy, balanced way, those acts then add to our pain instead of decrease it.
Little by little, bring yourself back to mountain. Notice how through alignment, stacking ourselves up for success, our muscles and fascia can relax because they are structurally supported.
It can feel quite uncomfortable at first, but over time it heals the body on a deep level. And THAT feels amazing.
Give it a whirl this week and let me know how it goes. It could be just the homecoming you've been needing.