PracticeTadasanaEveryone say hello to Jim.  Jim is my stick figure and will help in illustrating asana as I write about them.  Note that the plural of asana is asana and, yes, I have it written wrong in previous entries.  This is tadasana which is known as mountain pose.  Savasana is sometimes called the most difficult asana, if savasana is the most difficult then tadasana is the second.  The reason these two asana are so difficult is that they are so simple, I mean you just stand there, right?  Right but also very wrong.  Tadasana is all about alignment and just standing there is about anything but alignment.  Think about the last time you stood in line, you were just standing there.  When I’m just standing there, my arms are usually folded and my weight is shifted fully onto one or the other of my legs with my head tilted.  Tadasana is about aligning one’s body.  In my case, my right shin is twisted to the right so I have to either align my leg bones or my feet as trying to align them both puts far too much pressure on my hip, knee and ankle.

Tadasana is the most basic standing asana.  Jim the Stick Figure is standing in tadasana above.  Begin tadasana by placing the feet a comfortable distance apart, about 2 to 3 inches.  The arches should be lifted and your weight should be distributed evenly to the ball, side and heel of each foot.  Your legs should be straight but the knees should not be lock nor hyper-extended with the hips centered over the feet.  The back, neck and head should be erect as if there were a string attached to the very top of your head that was pulling you toward the ceiling.  Your arms should be to the sides of the torso, fingers gently extended with the shoulders aligned with the hips.

I find that there are some basic problem areas when in tadasana:  Sagging arches.  I have very flat feet so sagging arches are a constant issue for me.  Remember to distribute some of your weight onto the sides of your feet, press down with your big toes and keep those arches lifted!  The next problem areas are the tightly clenched muscles along the back of the legs, the biggest offender here are the gluteus muscles.  These muscles are all absolutely positive that if they relax, you’ll fall on your face.  Fortunately, that is not true.  The only leg muscles that you should feel tightened are the thighs, convince the others that they can just relax.  Continuing up the spine, our next stop is the back, chest and shoulders.  Make sure that back is aligned over the hips, the chest is lifted but not puffed out and the shoulders are relaxed and not pinched up toward the ears nor backward to the spine.  Finally, the neck and head should be aligned over the center line of the torso.  The chin should be roughly parallel to the floor.

The benefits of tadasana are subtler than other asana but include improved posture; stronger thighs, knees and ankles; and stronger arches/reduced flat footedness.

I like tadasana as it gives me a chance to be still and listen to what my body is doing.  I tend to visit each area of my body and give it a mental once over to evaluate how I am feeling.  I also practice tadasana when standing in line, it may look a little wooden but helps keep me calm and centered while waiting for the line to move.