Brilliant for grounding, centering, stability, solidity, balance and symmetry, Mountain can look deceptively simple but there’s actually a lot going on.
Begin with the feet together or (my preferred variation for stability and grounding) hip distance apart, both feet facing forwards.
Notice the weight of the body on the ball of the foot and the heel as well as inner and outer edges of the feet. (Warning: standing is something we do without thinking so often, the second we start paying attention to HOW we stand, we might feel a little off balance – this is perfectly normal.)
You might want to imagine a mountain behind you, holding, supporting and nourishing you as the ground below you keeps you connected and held and grounded. You might even want to imagine yourself breathing in the earth’s grounding energy through the soles of the feet, up the legs and into the lower lungs before breathing it back out again.
Perhaps imagining yourself with roots growing from the soles of your feet and travelling deep into the centre of the earth will help you feel more balanced and stable.
If these images don’t work for you, just feel the soles of the feet connecting with the mat and ground below.
Reach the fingertips down alongside the body and lift at the crown of the head. You might also (as pictured) like to place your hands at your heart centre.
Notice what’s happening with the breath.
If you have low blood pressure or start to feel dizzy, you might want to come out of the pose or you may want to rise up and down onto the balls of the feet. This allows the calf muscles to act as a pump allowing venous return.
I really wish I’d known this as a kid when I used to pass out on a regular basis, especially when we had to stand in assembly or elsewhere for long periods of time.
I want to add a wonderful tool I learned and have slightly adapted from somatic coach-therapist Clare Myatt (www.claremyatt.co.uk) to add to the grounding and centering here as it’s so beneficial:
Push into the soles of the feet to really feel the ground below you, aiming to keep both feet facing forward and hip distance apart.
Keep your eyes open throughout.
Notice your knees. Ensure they’re not locked and imagine yourself dropping your knee caps.
Moving up to the hips, pelvis, buttocks and belly, notice if you’re carrying any tension here and aim to release it.
Lengthening the spine and moving up to the shoulders, if you’re wearing them as earrings, let them drop.
If there’s any tension in your jaw, let that go. Soften your gaze to relax your eyes (I imagine looking at Rainbow MagnifiCat as an instant gaze softener but play with your own methods).
Allow the arms to rest by the sides, slightly apart from the body.
Notice the breath and any other sensations.
Imagine a cord pulling you up from the crown of your head, lengthening your whole body and enhancing your sense of dignity.
Visualise something dropping from the crown of your head down into your centre. Clare said you might want to imagine tea leaves settling, my sense is of a silver chain with a ball at the end, like a pendulum, finding its centre in my lower abdomen – stick with whatever image comes to you and feels good.
Feel yourself widening your arms a little away from the body and experiment with placement that feels good as you enhance your social presence in the world.
Imagine a line going through your lower abdomen from front to back, boosting your sense of depth and gravitas in the world.
Notice how it feels.
Play with it! I’ve been amazed, having been practicing yoga for 15+ years and teaching for more than three, how when I’m not actively encouraging myself or students and clients to come into standing asanas from Mountain, with their feet hip distance apart and both feet facing forwards, if I notice how I’m standing in the shower, washing up, in a queue etc, I have to consciously align so my feet are facing forwards and hip distance apart.
When Clare taught me this last week, my feet were facing in opposite directions! Already, just playing with it (off the yoga mat too, throughout the day), I feel more focused in general.
Others may find that feet are very wide and it takes practice to narrow your stance while keeping that sense of space and empowerment.
How did you get on?
What did you notice?
Feel free to share your comments and tips below.
IF YOU’RE NEW TO YOGA AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THESE POSES, GO TO A YOGA THERAPIST OR INSTRUCTOR. IF YOU’RE NEW TO EXERCISE, CONSULT YOUR GP BEFOREHAND. ALWAYS HONOUR YOUR BODY’S OWN WISDOM