SmartMat Pose of the Week: Mountain Pose
Don’t be deceived by its seemingly simple alignment. Mountain Pose, Tadasana, when held in right alignment is an incredible pose for feeling the potency of your energetic body. It also is a pose rich with symbolism and meaning in the Yogic tradition.
Just like the majestic mountains we see in nature, this pose can conjure up feelings of immensity, greatness, dignity, and strength. A mountain is also symbolic of us ascending to our goals, taking life one step at a time until we reach the summit of our potential. The path in life may not always be easy, and may even be littered with obstacles. But Mountain Pose teaches us that if we can keep a steady mind and a strong body, we can traverse the road ahead with much more confidence and grace.
Let’s take a closer look at how we can use Mountain pose to practice this kind of presence through proper alignment.
Building Steadiness From the Ground Up
The power of Mountain Pose comes from setting a sturdy and balanced foundation. Once that’s in place, the earth energy can flow freely from the feet to crown, leaving us feeling grounded and embodied in the present moment. It can help to think of your feet like the base of a mountain, an actual part of the earth itself, and the crown of your head like the peak of the mountain reaching high past the cloud line.
In order for you to achieve optimal energetic flow in this posture, it’s critical to first have the feet properly lined up. In Yoga, that means the feet need to be parallel. But because so many of us have a natural turn out in our stance during the course of our day, we often mistakenly carry this casual stance over into our practice. In this case, your feet might look like this:
When the feet are not parallel, the thigh bones are also turned out. This may cause low back compression and prevents the grounded feeling of earth energy from traveling up the length of the spine. With this all too common misalignment, yogis miss out on the potent meditative component of Mountain Pose that comes from feeling their connection to the earth.
A Smart Adjustment
In Mountain Pose, a proper Yoga stance of anatomically neutral means the feet are parallel. This can be a little tricky to achieve just by doing a visual check since our feet are not totally symmetrical to one another and can have odd shapes.
With SmartMat, however, you’re optimal stance for Mountain Pose (and all other poses) will be pre-calibrated based on the physical dimensions of your body. So, it will be able to tell you when you’ve hit exact parallel feet for you. It will most likely look something like this:
If you can imagine a line on each foot drawn from the base of the second toe to the center of the ankle, those two lines will end up parallel when you are in proper stance.
But parallel feet is only the first step. One also needs to equally balance the weight of the body on the four corners of each foot. In Yoga, we call these four corners 1) the big toe mound; 2) the little toe mound; 3) the inner heel; and 4) the outer heel. They are shown here:
Balance is the second area where SmartMat will help you learn when you are exactly locked into the ideal alignment for you. Balance is such a sensitive thing, and many of us don’t naturally have the level of sensitivity to know if and when the feet are perfectly and equally balanced from front to back and side to side.
With SmartMat, you’ll have a much enhanced feedback mechanism to let you know exactly how to adjust the weight until you hit your perfect alignment. Never before have practicing yogis had such a precise and detailed tool to support them in achieving optimal balance.
Plugging in to Your Power Source
With the feet parallel and evenly balanced in Mountain Pose, one can then tap into a profound sense of groundedness both physically and mentally. With each inhale, you can drink the earth energy up the legs all the way up to our crown of your head, creating a feeling of spaciousness along the central energy channel of the body. With each exhale, you can follow that same energetic loop back down the body rooting yourself once more into the earth itself.
Practice this regularly on your SmartMat, and you may start to notice that same presence of mind trickling over into other areas of your life. Strong body, steady mind.