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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tadasana - Hatha Yoga's Mountain Posture For Chronic Back Pain

By Paul Jerard

Yoga has hundreds of postures for relief of back pain. It should be noted that learning from videos is advisable for Yoga teachers, Yoga therapists, Ayurvedic doctors, physical therapists, and medical doctors. However, if you have limited Yoga experience, please consult with your physician before going to a class or session. At that point, you should seek the advice of a competent Yoga teacher or Yoga therapist. Each step is important, so please do some research in order to make the best possible choice.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with emphasis on the pelvic tilt. Tadasana is considered by some to be the starting position of all standing poses, but it is also performed at the end of many standing poses. Tadasana can be commonly seen in Vinyasa sequences and Sun Salutations.

This is an indication of the value of an advanced posture, which many of us take for granted. Tadasana is considered to be an advanced posture, due to the number of subtleties and the number of muscles used. The subtleties, within Mountain Pose, make complete awareness difficult for every level of Yoga practitioner.

Therefore, never underestimate the value of standing erect. Ideally, your feet should be as close as possible. If you have difficulty with balance, keeping your feet hip width, will be fine. If you are in a wheel chair, you can still practice Tadasana by sitting up tall. While sitting, your ankles should be directly under your knees.

A simple definition of the pelvic tilt is a position in which your buttocks are tucked under the spine; while your abdominal muscles are contracted. Some teachers will tell you to "roll your hips forward," while others tell you to "tuck your sacrum under the heart center." This is easier said than done, but you can practice the pelvic tilt on the floor or in your bed.

Eventually, you can do this standing. A wall behind you makes a wonderful prop. The back of your heels, sacrum, and shoulder blades, should be relatively close to the wall. Do not over tuck the pelvis forward, and observe if you have a natural backward tilt of the pelvis.

The backward tilt of the pelvis, and lower spine, is a factor in developing excessive tension within the lower back and weak posterior muscles. The back of your head should not be touching the wall. Keeping your gaze at eye level will improve the alignment of your upper spine.

The above-mentioned points can serve as general guidelines, but this barely scratches the surface. To learn Tadasana, correctly, will require proper instruction and dedicated practice. For the Yoga practitioner, Tadasana should be practiced every time one stands.

Please remember that your skeletal body is unique. Your skeleton is different because of a lifetime of demands from work and activities. It will not conform to the strict demands of a "cookie cutter" philosophy. Do your personal best. Remain aware of your own journey toward better alignment and ultimately less, or no, back pain.