The Tree Pose, known as Vrksasana in Sanskrit, is a basic yoga pose used to promote balance and centering. The Sanskrit name comes from the words vrksa meaning tree, and asana meaning pose.
Benefits Of Tree Pose
Tree Pose strengthens and tones the leg muscles, ankles and feet. It strengthens the core while opening your hips and stretching your inner thighs and groin muscles.
It is a balancing exercise. For the most part, it is physically simple, and yet it is mentally highly demanding. This posture develop, to the highest degree, the powers of mental concentration and single-mindedness of thought, as well as physical balance.
The pose tones the leg muscles and gives one a sense of balance and poise. This balancing pose adjusts the vertebrae of the spine and promotes good posture. It refreshes and uplifts the mind.
Finding Your Roots in Tree Pose
To find your balance in Tree Pose, plant deep roots to get grounded.
This ancient, reliable pose is often the first balance posture you learn, since it is relatively simple and strengthens your legs and spine and opens your thighs and hips.
When you practice balancing poses, you learn some practical lessons in how to get grounded, find your center, stay focused, and steady your mind. Plus, the process, falling and trying again, helps develop patience and persistence, humility and good humor.
How To Balance In Tree Pose
Learning to balance often has more to do with your mental state than your physical abilities. If you are stressed, or if your mind is scattered, your body is likely to be unsteady, too. And, of course, the very practice of trying to balance is stressful. Most of us, as we try to balance, have unsettling thoughts like “I can’t do this” or “Everyone is watching me wobble” or “I have a weak leg”.
As follows are three tools you can use to quiet distracting mental chatter and steady your mind:
1. Be Aware of Your Breath:
Paying attention to your breath helps unite body and mind and establish a state of physiologic calm. As yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar writes in his classic guide, Light on Yoga, “regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind.”
2. Direct Your Gaze:
Also called drishti in Sanskrit, a steady gaze helps focus your mind. In Tree pose, anchoring your gaze on the horizon or a fixed point directs energy forward to keep you upright.
3. Visualize Your Tree:
Imagine that you are a tree with your feet rooted firmly in the earth and your head extending up toward the sun. Find an image that suits your body and temperament – a graceful willow, a solid oak or a flirty palm. Invite this mental picture to guide you toward stability.
How To Do The Tree Pose
If you are a beginner, try the posture without a mat by letting your feet connect directly with the firm surface because this way can help you to have the grounded feel easily.
Begin by breathing steadily in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Root down through your legs and feet and lengthen up through your torso and head.
Shift your body weight to the left leg, and pick up your right heel, keeping your right toes touching the floor. Bring the sole of your right foot to your left ankle and open your right knee out to the right – keeping your toes on the floor can help you to balance especially for beginner who has problem to balance.
If you are comfortable, bring your foot to the inside of the left thigh. Release your tailbone toward the floor. Elongate your spine and press the foot of your standing leg down firmly.
Be sure your frontal hip bones in neutral and one side isn’t lifting higher than the other. Lengthen your waist and gently draw your bent knee back to help open the thigh, all the while keeping your pelvis in neutral.
Anchor your gaze at eye level on the horizon and press your palms together in front of your heart in the prayer position known as Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal).
When you feel ready to experiment with your balance, inhale as you reach your arms up toward the ceiling, parallel to each other with your palms facing in. (In some versions of the pose the palms touch. Try it both ways to see which you prefer.)
Lengthen through your fingers as you relax your shoulders, drawing your shoulder blades down your back. Stay in the pose for several slow, steady breaths, keeping your face passive. Then, if you want an extra challenge, try staying balanced in Tree pose with your eyes closed. Repeat the pose on the other side.
You may also like to check it out the below video for a short explanation of how to do the yoga Tree pose conducted by Yoga Therapist Shy Sayar.
Steady Body & Calm Mind
Yoga Tree pose can bring a wonderful sense of inner peace. It teaches you how to be both strong and supple, to be rooted without being rigid. A tree must be able to sway in the wind or risk having its branches or trunk snap. So the key is to feel rooted in your feet.
If you are unsteady in the pose, start from the ground up and make sure your toes are relaxed and long, the sole of your foot is pressed evenly into the floor, and the muscles of your standing leg are engaged.
It is always important to leave your ego at the door when you practice yoga. So don't be too proud to practice a Tree pose near a wall if it helps. As with all postures, it is essential to let go of your ambition about how you think you should be in the pose and accept where you are as fully as possible.
Be aware that your balance and flexibility can change from day to day, depending on what you ate, how you slept, and a host of other variables. So don't assume you will glide effortlessly into the pose just because you have done it before.
Tuning in to the subtle changes in your body, mind and spirit will teach you how to stay in the present moment. Be playful and patient, use props if you need them, and if you fall, try again. With time, practice and patience, you will make progress.
Common Mistakes In Tree Pose
Keep these things in mind to make sure you are getting the most out of Tree Pose and not compromising your joints.
The most important thing to work on in Tree is making sure that the pressure of your lifted foot on your standing leg doesn't cause that side's hip to stick out. The hips should stay as square as possible, just as if you still have both feet on the floor in Mountain Pose.
Be careful to avoid placing the right foot directly on the side of the left knee since that puts your joint in a vulnerable position.
Make sure that your right knee doesn't creep forward toward the center line. Keep it pointing to the right.
Mind Lacks Proper Concentration
Keep calm and stay focus inward.
Modifications and Variations
While Tree Pose is considered rather simple, listen to your body and modify it as and if needed. Then, once you have mastered it, make some changes for more of a challenge.
Need a Modification?
If your right foot doesn't come easily to the upper left thigh, bring it lowers on the left leg. The left calf is a good option. You can even put the right foot on your left ankle and keep your right toes on the floor like a little kickstand if that's best for you.
Use the wall or chair for balance if necessary.
Refer to images below for more variations.
Tree Pose Advanced Variations
The above pose, Half Lotus Tree, is for more advanced and more flexible students. Fixing the eyes on a point in front of you is the key to balancing the body.
For this Tree variation, place the foot on the opposite thigh in Half Lotus position. To take it even one step further, reach your left hand behind your back and take a bind with your left big toe or a different variation (Refer to below images). Hold the pose for as long as you feel comfortable. Make sure you practice on both sides.
Note: Please perform the yoga pose under the guide of a certified yoga teacher especially for beginner. You are at your own risk and responsible if you perform on your own. Whatever provided here is just act as an information.
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