Written by Kara Goodsell
The Vedic Scriptures speak of the sacred sound OM as the basis of all sound, emerging from Absolute Silence.
It follows that all asana emerge from the perfect symmetry of Tadasana, the basis of the standing poses.
Tada = Mountain
Asana = comfortable seat
Pronunciation: tah – Dahs – ahnna
Note: Tadasana is sometimes referred to as Samasthiti
Sama = same, equal, even
Sthiti = to stand, balance
The root of every asana is the steady connection or seat to the earth. Lasting structures are built on solid foundations and in our standing poses, we start from the foundation of the feet and work our awareness and energy up through the spine, traveling the mystical path of rising Kundalini, to the crown of the head.
Traditionally, Tadasana is considered the first asana. We begin the cycle of practice standing straight on two feet and we finish in Savasana, the corpse pose, lying flat on our back. Every practice has a beginning and an end, the two points of which contain within an ineffable spectrum of transformation.
Tadasana is an opportunity to stand tall with the formidable steadiness of a mountain. The mountain is the meeting place of the terrestrial and celestial forces and the traditional abode of the Gods. It is the youngest child of heaven and earth, conducting the energy of the heavens into the earth and earth energy towards the heavens.
The base of the mountain is represented by the feet, anchored to the earth and the peak of the mountain is symbolised by the crown of the head, extending towards the skies and higher awareness. The erect spine represents the vitality of the whole being thriving in the realm of gravity.
Contraindications & Cautions
- Low Blood Pressure (if pose held too long): as the blood may begin to pool in the lower half of the body, causing dizziness
- Pregnancy: keep feet hip distance, or wider, apart
- Knock Knees: Bring heels slightly apart
- Facilitates good alignment and posture, which strengthens and tones the core muscles
- Creates space within the body allowing internal organs to work more efficiently thus improving respiration, digestion and elimination
- Stabilises the body and mind – promotes emotional balance and grounding
The Feet & Lower Legs:
The essential structure of the foot can be represented by a triangle. The three points of the triangle are the places where the foot’s structure will rest on a supporting surface – the ball of the foot at the base of the big toe; the ball of the foot at the base of the little toe and the front of the heel. Ideally the weight is distributed evenly between these three points. A good way to become aware of the distribution of the weight of the body on the feet is to gently allow the weight of the body to rock forward and then back toward the heels, as the inner eye established the Samasthiti or even balance, and you widen across the ball and heel of the foot.
The body should begin to feel more alive and alert, as the inner arches and shin bones (tibia) ascend, rather than sink.
Kneecaps & Thighs:
Allow the energy to transcend as the front of the thighs and kneecaps lift, and the front of the thighs press back onto the thigh bone. Be careful to avoid locking or hyper extending the knees. If this begins to occur, micro-bend the knees to avoid over stretching the ligaments.
The knees are directly over the ankles.
Pelvis, Hips & Waist:
With the awareness now at the base of the spine, take the tip of the tail bone slightly forward and the tip of the pubic bone slightly back, allowing the sitting bones to lengthen toward the heels, creating maximum space between the vertebrae of the lumbar spine.
Activate the core muscles, by gently pulling up the muscles of the pelvic floor or engaging mula bandha. This action allows the spine to find its neutral position and helps stabilise the pelvis, affording the greatest strength and stability for the spine.
Lengthen the waist by lifting the navel inwards and upwards (uddiyana bandha) and the chest away from the belly, feeling the spine extend upwards through the crown of the head. Be mindful that the lower or floating ribs do not flare out, as this may exaggerate the curve of the lower back. Lift the sternum.
The hips are directly over the knees
Shoulder, Arms & Fingers:
Activate the arms by placing the hands in line with the hips, out at about 20 degrees, with the finger tips pointed, like arrow heads. Feel the prana or life force moving through the hands.
Allow the shoulders to soften away from the ears, widening from the sides of the neck to the tips of the shoulders.
Draw the chin slightly toward the chest, so that the chin is parallel to the floor, the back of the neck is lengthened and the throat is relaxed.
Allow the base of the skull to soften and balance the tip of each ear lobe an equal distance to the floor.
The drishti or gaze is forward, to infinity. Soften the eyes, taking the mind out of the front of the skull toward the base of the skull and allow the forehead to become broad and expansive.
Imagine that you have a silver cord attached to the crown of the head, drawing you up. Inhale to the base of the feet, feeling the breath move to the lower lungs, filling and expanding the back and sides of the lungs.
Continue to breath feeling the spine lift and lengthen with each inhalation and the shoulders softening with each exhalation, feeling the equal and opposite flow of energy through the spine.
Variation on the pose
Urdhva = raised, elevated, upward
Hasta = hand
Turn the palms out and on an inhalation raise the arms above the head, shoulder distance apart, palms facing toward each other.
Keep the shoulders drawing away from the ears and the shoulder blades moving down toward the kidneys. If the shoulders allow, bring the palms together in namaste or prayer position.
If there are no neck issues, take the gaze up, beyond the tips of the fingers, keeping the forehead soft.
On the exhale, release the palms back down to the sides, in Tadasana.
There is a lifetime of work contained in the practice of Tadasana.
As we become more experienced in our practice you can start to move from the more gross or primary points of an asana, to the more subtle or secondary points, experiencing its endless complexity and learning from its character, from where you are at any given moment in time.
1. Jivamukti Yoga by Sharon Gannon and David Life, Published by Random House 2002).
2.Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff, Published by Human Kinetics 2007