tree pose (vrksasana)
If you’ve ever tripped off a curb or slipped on a patch of ice, you probably understand the benefit of having a good sense of balance. Practicing balancing poses in yoga, such as Tree Pose, will help you gain both physical and mental steadiness and poise. Tree Pose improves focus and concentration while calming your mind. Its Sanskrit name, “Vrksasana” (vrik-SHAH-suh-nuh), comes from two words: “Vrksa,” which means “tree” “Asana,” which means “pose” The word “asana” can also be translated as “seat.” Many of the original ancient yoga poses were seated postures. As the practiced developed, standing poses were introduced, but the seated, meditative aspect still remained. Tree Pose, with its calming and meditative benefits, is like a standing variation of a seated meditation posture. Keeping calm and focused while balancing on one foot will teach you to sway gently like a tree in the wind, steady and sure no matter what the outside circumstances may be. Benefits of Tree Pose Tree Pose stretches the thighs, groins, torso, and shoulders. It builds strength in the ankles and calves, and tones the abdominal muscles. The pose also helps to remedy flat feet and is therapeutic for sciatica.
"Like a tree, extend your roots down and blossom your arms up toward the sun. The stronger the roots, the taller the tree."
Tree Pose improves your sense of balance and coordination. Regular practice will improve your focus and your ability to concentrate in all areas of your life, particularly during those times when you might normally feel “off-balance.” This pose has a positive impact on the grace and ease with which you approach all circumstances, even outside of your yoga class. It teaches the benefits of a meditative state of mind, and is a gentle reminder that you can bring calm focus and clear-headedness to all situations, not just when you are practicing a seated meditation.
Due to the balancing nature of the posture, do not practice Tree Pose if you are currently experiencing headaches, insomnia, low blood pressure, or if you are lightheaded and/or dizzy. Those with high blood pressure should not raise their arms overhead in the pose. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
- Spread your toes and root down through all four corners of your feet. Inhale and draw muscularly from your feet up into the core of the pelvis and hug your legs together. Focus on one point in front of you. Keeping your left leg strong and steady, inhale, bend your right leg and place the the right foot against the inner left thigh. Bring your palms together in front of your heart.
- Inhale, lengthen the sides of your body from the hips up to the shoulders and bring your shoulder blades onto your back. Extend your arms over your head beside your earts and bring your palms together.
- Hold for several breaths then lowe the arms and legs simultaneously. Repeat on the other side.
Modifications & Variations:
Practicing Tree Pose can be a great way to gain balance, grace, and poise — for beginners and advanced students. Try these simple changes to adapt the pose to your current abilities: If you are unable to bring your foot to your thigh, rest your foot alongside your calf muscle or the ankle of your standing leg, instead. Rest the toes of your raised foot on the floor if you need extra assistance balancing. If you are very unsteady, try practicing the pose with your back against a wall for extra support. Alternatively, you can place a chair next to the standing-leg side of your body and rest your hand on the back of the chair for extra support. For a greater challenge when your arms are overhead, close your eyes. Practice balancing without using the outside world for reference.