Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pose of the Week: Mountain

Mountain Pose*, also known as Tadasana, is the perfect place to relax and regroup; to allow your body and mind to become one.  It's purpose is to fill the body with energy and awareness, and to align the body's weight.  You will find that frequent practice of Mountain Pose will improve your posture and strengthen your spinal muscles.

To begin, stand with the joints of your big toes together and your heels slightly separated (this picture shows the feet separated as a modification to produce more stability).  Your arms should be down beside your body, palms facing forward.  Your neck should be nice and long, and your chin should be parallel to your mat.

Mountain Pose (front view)
Press the three corners of your feet (big toes, pinkie toes, and heels) into your mat.  Activate your leg muscles by lifting your calves, kneecaps, and thighs up toward your hips.  Press your hips slightly forward to avoid over extending your back, tighten your glutes.  Draw your naval toward your spine.  Relax your shoulders away from your ears and open your chest.  It is important focus on proper posture. Lift through your heart at the same time you are pressing your hips slightly forward and tucking in your rear.

Your gaze should be focused straight ahead, or you may close your eyes.  Slow your breathing, allowing yourself to fully and deeply inhale and exhale.  If you chose to, you may try to visualize yourself standing on top of a mountain, trying to feel the rocks beneath your bare feet as you press them into your mat, feel the breeze on your skin.  Try imagining the strength and majesty of the mountain below your feet, then feel that strength come up through your body; making your body become rock solid.

Mountain Pose (side view)
You should avoid overextending your spine, as well as collapsing your chest forward.  Be mindful not to press your hips too far forward or too far back.

You can clearly see that my shoulders are pressed too far forward,
my back is too rounded, and my hips are pressed too far forward.
This is too often mistaken for proper posture.  However, you can see that my back
is overextended, and my shoulders and rear are pressed
too far back (creating a phenomenon I like to call "Stripper Back").

Proper alignment.  Chest open, shoulders above the hips, tailbone
tucked in, hips above the ankles, naval pulled in and up.

Thank you for practicing with me today.  Namaste.

*Please remember to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
I am not a doctor or a personal trainer, so I may not be able to address your specific contraindications.
I can only teach you what I know and what I have been taught.

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