Is Feet Together Really The Best Way To Practice Mountain Pose?
The instructions for tadasana are so common, so assumed in yoga class, that they’re often given nonchalantly and glossed over. As in, “You already know this, you do it a million times a day, I don’t need to elaborate.” But I want to elaborate, because the simple act of moving your feet to a different position in mountain pose can transform your practice and your physical and mental state.
Some teachers always teach mountain pose with feet together, others with feet hip-width. Why?
Big Toes Touch
Apana—the downward flowing sister energy to prana—creates calm, grounding and ease, as well as aids in elimination, menstruation and release. But too much of it flowing out of your system too quickly and you might feel depressed, sad, lethargic or down. With feet together in tadasana you can better contain your energy and build reserves of strength, confidence, vibrancy and alertness.
On a physical level, feet touching in mountain pose makes a narrower foundation. This equals less stability. Legs tightly squeezed together can help you pull your power in and up, but it also means more abdominal pressure, which is bad if you have your period, are pregnant or have stomach, intestinal or low back pain. Too much pulling in and up can also aggravate you if you’re already agitated; in times of stress this may create the inability to calm down.
When To Practice Feet Together
- you feel depressed and unmotivated
- you lack confidence
- you want to build up your reserves for a challenging time
- you want more vibrancy
- you need mental focus
- you want to focus on mula bandha
- you want to develop core strength
When NOT To Practice Feet Together
- you have back or abdominal pain
- you are agitated, stressed and anxious
- you have your period or are pregnant
- you’re constipated
- you have high blood pressure
- you have a migraine
If toes together contains your energy, then feet apart helps you release it. This is good if you’re anxious, unstable, hyper, need soothing or can’t sleep. When you step your feet apart in tadasana, it allows for more grounding and calm and helps release the excess of the ayurvedic dosha vata.
Physically, taking your feet wider gives your mountain pose a more stable base. Use this if you need to create ease, stability and relaxation.
When To Practice Feet Apart
- you feel anxious, nervous or fidgitty
- you need to let go and allow yourself to be supported
- you need a deep release
- you have insomnia
- you have high blood pressure
- you need to calm down and relax
- you want a spacious mental state
- you’re type A personality is out of control
When NOT To Practice Feet Apart
- you feel depressed or sad
- you need stimulation
- you need to stoke your digestion
- you want to improve strength
- you need power and focus
Find The Middle
There is no single placement for your feet to find the “perfect” mountain pose. You and your needs change often, so experiment with the width of your stance in tadasana. For comparison, step your feet extra wide, then stand with them all the way together and see how they feel different. Often, the best place will be somewhere in between these two spots. Other times, it will be one extreme or the other. Only you can know!
Bonus: These tips apply to shavasana (corpse pose) and uttanasana (standing forward fold), too, so make sure to customize your entire yoga practice to fit your needs.