Standing Mountain Pose, may not seem like a difficult task to complete but it is the basis for all other poses and should be visited in the beginning to each class. While this pose may not be as gratifying as a fancy arm balance it can give you important clues to your practice going forward.
How To: Standing Mountain Pose
Standing with your feet together, have your heels slightly apart, so there is a one to two inch space and your feet are parallel. Roll around on your feet for a little bit until you liven the arches and find yourself in the center of your foot. Roll your shoulders up and gently back to open the chest and rotate your palms to face forward, feeling the shoulder blades on your back. Check on your back and keep it in a neutral position to relax the pelvis. Inhales lengthen your spine and on the exhale maintain the height you created. Feel a mild external rotation from your thighs and left the kneecaps slightly to engage the legs.
Benefits of Standing Mountain Pose
The role of Standing Mountain Pose is vast. Done properly and consistently, the most noticeable benefits include:
- Improves posture
- Strengthens legs, knees and feet
- Strengthens butt and abs
- Helps develop arches in flat feet
- Gives opportunity for full body assessments
For the lay person or yogi AND the athlete, Standing Mountain Pose shares the same benefits. Not only is it a great way to strengthen the lower half of the body, doing this pose in front of a mirror or in the presence of your yoga teacher/coach it is a great tool of assessment. It is very important in the philosophy of Power Yoga for Sports and all yoga to keep constant awareness of your own body/tool. Athletes as well as the soccer mom or kids need to learn about their bodies in order to sideline injuries before they happen or strengthen the body in the case of a jarring incident, in that case it is a matter of walking away rather than a trip to the ER.
Doing this pose in front of the mirror on a regular basis is how you get to compare one side of the body to the other, notice misalignments, see asymmetries and address them through your training. For example I always look to my shoulders for stress and tightness. I look for one shoulder being higher, rotation of each shoulder, how my hand faces forward on each side and if my back torques to one side or the other. Then consult my yoga teacher for advice. Consider the first time you do this as a baseline test for you to compare to for the rest of your life and even consider taking photos and archiving them for comparison for the future.
Doing this pose is also an opportunity to stand still and take some deep productive relaxing breaths.
Another nice option is to do this pose while standing against a wall, have the backs of your heels and your sacrum, or lower back, and shoulder blades flush up against the wall.
Although you should always consult your physician and research a properly trained yoga teacher before starting a yoga practice, there are a few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely:
- Low blood pressure
- Severe sciatic pain
- Recent surgery
Have fun exploring this assessment pose and learning about your body.
Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990.Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com.Gwen's unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience,coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy, nutrition and homeopathy, provide her clients, class participants and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, New York Rangers, several major college teams including Yale and YNC, and many youth teams in a variety of sports. She is also the official spokesperson for AFRIN PureSea and ambassador for Lululemon. Her writing appears in Men's Health, Women's Health , Fitness Magazine and shape.com. She has made appearances on NBC TODAY show and many TV news and national radio shows. Gwen also owns her own yoga school where she trains people to teach the Power Yoga for Sports system.. Visit her website at www.poweryogaforsports.com