Uta’s Insights: Yoga Pose of the Week―1. Mountain Pose
Hello, my dear yoga friends and new friends to yoga!
Many of the exercises I would like to share with you in the coming weeks are poses and stretching exercises that I practice with my friends and clients who are runners and triathletes. I also would like to extend a warm invitation to those who are new to yoga.
These are poses selected from many of those which are available due to their particularly healthful impact on athletes. All of them are appropriate for beginners.
Each week I will choose another asana [yoga pose or exercise] and give you a short, general introduction to it, followed by its specific benefits and details on how to get into each pose.
You then can incorporate the asana we discuss here in Uta’s Insights into your own unique program. I like to practice them almost every day depending on the intensity of my running schedule.
Ideally, we enjoy my yoga routine after easy and short runs―always warming-up our muscles before starting the sessions. We exercise slowly to make sure the body’s structure is properly aligned—following the “Blueprint of Alignment” taught by different yoga styles. And, we follow proper breathing patterns for each asana to get the most benefit from exercising.
Our first Yoga Pose of the Week is Mountain pose―Tadasana.
We like to start each yoga session by settling into this primary standing pose since it promotes grounding and allows us to check our posture. It encourages a lengthened spine, open chest, and relaxed shoulders. It also can be used to align the body between other poses.
In addition to the above benefits, if you practice the Mountain pose with your eyes closed, it can enhance your balance. This is an option you may want to try once you are comfortable getting into and holding this pose.
Runners also enjoy this asana as a way of loosening up their muscles. It is an excellent way to simply stretch out your entire body at the beginning of a yoga program. This is why the Mountain pose is one of our favorites.
How to practice the Mountain pose:
- Stand erect with feet a hip-width apart. Breathe slowly and deeply through the nose. Connect the 4 corners of the feet to the earth: big toe, little toe, inner and outer heel. Feel the weight of your body evenly centered over the feet.
- Close your eyes and gaze inwards. Appreciate your body in its balanced state, feeling your strong connection with the earth. Open your eyes and look straight ahead.
- Let your spine lengthen upwards from the feet. Be careful not to flatten or over-arch your lower back: you want to achieve a natural, gentle curve to the lower spine.
- Softly roll the shoulders back and down to open the chest which allows for a spacious feeling in the heart. Gently place the palms of your hands together in front of the chest.
- You can modify this pose to an extended Mountain pose—Urdhva Tadasana by raising your arms above your head with the palms of your hands facing each other, as seen in picture three.
- Repeat this exercise three to four times.