tadasana (Yoga Anatomy)
tada = mountain
Fig: This pose’s name evokes many images that relate to a stable, rooted base of sup-port and a “crown” that reaches for the heavens.
Classification and Level
Easy standing pose
Intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles, quadriceps, iliopsoas, piriformis, abdomi-nal wall, diaphragm.
The lumbar, thoracic, and cervical curves are in mild axial extension. The ankle, hip, shoulder, and wrist joints are in their neutral positions, midway between flexion and extension. The knee joints are extended (but not hyperextended); the elbow joints are extended and the forearms are pronated. The arches of the feet are lifted and connecting with the upward lifting action in the pelvic floor, the lower abdomen, rib cage, cervical spine, and the top of the head. The shoulder blades are dropped onto the support of the rib cage and con-nect with the downward release of the tailbone and the grounding of the three points of contact between each foot and the floor.
Nothing lasting can be built on a shaky foundation. This may be why tadasana is considered by many yoga traditions to be the starting point of asana practice. Interestingly, this pose is almost identical to the “anatomical position”—the start-ing reference point for the study of movement and anatomy. The only major dif-ference between the two positions is that in tadasana, the palms of the hands are facing the sides of the thighs rather than forward.
support and padding for the foot: the fat pads (yellow) and plantar
The muscles of the foot occupy the space between the plantar fascia and the bones.
This body position is also uniquely human, because humans are the only true biped mammals on the planet. Humans are also the least stable of creatures, pos-sessing the smallest base of support, the highest center of gravity, and (propor-tionately) the heaviest brain balancing atop it all.
The base of support of this pose—the feet—offers a beautiful image of how the passive and active forces of release and support operate in the human system. The essential structure of the foot can be represented by a triangle. The three points of the triangle are the three places where the foot’s structure will rest on a supporting surface: the calcaneal tuberosity, the base of the first metatarsal, and the base of the fifth metatarsal. The lines connecting these points represent the arches—three lines of lift through which postural support is derived: the medial longitudinal arch, the lateral longitudinal arch, and the transverse (metatarsal) arch.
From underneath, the two triangles of the feet can be joined to show the size and shape of the base of support for tadasana. The “plumb line” that passes through the body’s center of gravity in this position should also fall through the exact center of this base.
The four layers of musculature (see top figure) all combine to create lift, balance, and movement of the 28 bones of the foot, which has evolved to be an incredibly adaptable structure able to move you smoothly through space over uneven terrain.
The foot has evolved over millions of years in a world with no roads or side-walks. In today’s world in which many uneven surfaces have been leveled and paved, it’s clearly over engineered. When the adaptability of the foot is no longer needed for locomotion, the deeper muscles that support the arches inevitably weaken, eventually leaving only the superficial, noncontractile plantar fascia responsible for preventing the total collapse of the foot.
This frequently leads to plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. The practice of standing postures in general, and tadasana in particular, is one of the best ways to restore the natural aliveness, strength, and adaptability of the feet. Once your foundation is improved, it’s much easier to put the rest of your house in order.
Fig: Four layers of musculature, deepest on the right and most superficial on the left.
bones from below (left) and above (right). The “X” marks the
point where the weight of the body
transfers through the tibia to the talus bone, and from there to the calcaneus.
Equal Standing, Prayer Pose
sama = same, equal
sthiti = to establish, to stand
Samasthiti has a wider, more stable base than tadasana because the feet are placed with the heels under the sit-ting bones rather than touching each other. All the standing poses that are executed from this base, as opposed to tadasana, consequently have a wider, more stable base of support. This is typically done in the vinyasa styles, in which breath-coordinated movement is the focus, rather than the alignment-oriented approaches, in which static maintenance of positions is preferred.
Fig: Base for support of samasthiti.
The circled dot marks where the center line of gravity falls.
Additionally, the head is lowered and the hands are in namaste (prayer) position. This is typical of the starting point of a sun salutation, a prayerful vinyasa that is used by many systems of hatha yoga as a warm-up and to con-nect asanas into a flowing sequence.
In the Ashtanga tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the term samasthiti refers to what is here described as tadasana. In the teaching tradition of Sri T. Krishnam-acharya and his son, T.K.V. Desikachar, the term tadasana refers to a standing pose with the arms overhead, and balancing on the balls of the feet.
People with headache, insomnia, and low blood pressure should exercise caution when performing prolonged standing poses.
Fig: Here, the weight is balanced on the balls of the feet.
The “X” marks where the center line of gravity falls
IGIYS's expert counsellors can help you with all your doubtsFor any othe enquiries
Confused about your yoga exam or career ?