Tree practice teaches us awareness, patience and acceptance. Awareness of our body, patience while we work with limitations of our body and acceptance of those limitations.
It gives us opportunity to practice Satya (Truthfulness), one of Yamas (ethical standards for proper conduct) of Eight Limbs of Yoga. We are invited to find our own alignment and our own balance no matter where the foot ends up. We meet ourselves where our body is rather than where the ego thinks it should be. When we align ourselves in a way that is truthful to us, we build strong and solid foundations from which we can grow and flourish.
Tree pose (Vrksasana in Sanskrit) offers many variations and is suitable for complete beginners and advanced practitioners.
The hip of the lifted leg tends to move back as we flex the hip while bending the knee so bring the lifted knee forward in space to align the hips.
To achieve state of balance it is helpful to focus the eyes on a single point on the floor in front of you and lock the gaze on that point bringing the mind to a steady, concentrated state.
This pose requires strong feet and ankles for finding stability and balance on the standing leg.
Push the foot firmly into the standing leg to stabilise. The higher on the standing leg the foot is, the less necessary it is to press the foot in because the weight of the leg holds the foot in place.
Tailbone drops down towards the floor and the abdominal muscles are engaged to remove arch from the lower back. The core muscles (especially the obliques) are working to balance with one leg open to the side.
- Lifted foot presses against the knee. Avoid stressing knee ligaments and lift the foot against inner thigh or place it on the inner shin or the ankle resting toes on the floor.
- Hunched shoulders in arms-lifted variation – draw the shoulder blades together and then down the spine.
- Arms raised towards the sky creating V shape or into a prayer above the head. This variation moves the centre of gravity higher therefore is more challenging from balancing perspective. However, having the arms extended helps some people with the balance. Higher centre of gravity stabilises abdominal muscles and affects free movement of the diaphragm.
- Hands in prayer in front of the heart centre (Anjali Mudra) – in this variation the upper body has more freedom to take part in respiratory movements.
- To develop sense of balance practice the pose against the wall.
- Try gazing towards the sky or even closing your eyes and notice how does that affect your balance.
- Virabhadrasana II – Warrior 2
- Utthita Trikonasana – Extended Triangle
- Sucirandhrasana – Eye of the needle (supine)
- Baddha Konasana – Bound Angle
- Toe squat
- Supta Vrksasana – Supine Tree Pose
- Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana – Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
- Natarajasana – Dancer’s Pose
- Vasisthasana – Side plank with tree variation
Tree is a grounding pose. It activates Root Chakra (Muladhara) which supports solidity in the core. It invites us to root firmly into the ground through the standing leg spreading toes into the mat and pressing through the four corners of the foot. The standing leg is like a trunk of a tree providing stability in the base and freedom of movement in the upper body. From there tree expands its branches into the sky.
- Develops sense of balance
- Strengthens feet, ankles, thighs, calves
- Increases awareness of the core
Contradictions or apply caution
- Knee and ankle issues
Photo credit: Unsplash