The Sanskrit word for tree pose is vrksasana; “vrksa” meaning tree and “asana” meaning pose. Vrksasana is a balancing pose that strengthens your “rooted” or standing leg, improves concentration and is an excellent way to find calmness and get centered.
Getting into tree pose
Stand on your left foot and activate your quad to keep a strong leg. Place the toes of your right foot on the floor and start to rotate your right thigh out to the right. Make sure to keep your hips square and facing straight forward. Find your foot stability. Root the four points of your left foot and lift up on your inner arch. Try to spread your toes and avoid gripping the floor. Choose one of the three modifications.
Modification 1: Place the sole of the right foot and rest it above your inner left ankle. Keep your right knee pointed out to the right and keep your hips square.
Modification 2: Place the sole of your right foot against your inner left thigh. Keep your right knee pointed out to the right and keep your hips square
NOTE: whether you choose to rest your foot above the ankle or against your inner thigh, avoid placing your foot against your knee.
Modification 3: Hot yoga tree – place the outer edge of your right foot against your upper left thigh/hip flexor area. Keep your right hip open and both hips square. You can assist your right foot in this position by holding it with your right hand and keeping your left hand at heart’s center.
TIP: if you feel your right foot slipping down your left leg, really activate and flex your left quad and firmly press the sole of your right foot into your leg –it’s like finding balance between two converging forces.
Place your hands at heart’s center. Once you have found balance here, grow your tree by raising your arms above your head – hands together or separated, biceps aligned with ears and allow your shoulder blades to melt down your back. Keep your head in a neutral position, chin parallel to the floor, find a focal point and breathe. Enjoy the calmness of tree pose.
Challenge your tree
To challenge your tree, first try to close your eyes. You may be surprised how shutting your sense of sight immensely challenges balance.
If you’re ready to try another challenge, let your arms sway from side to side above your head, like branches in a gentle breeze. Keep your rooted leg strong and firmly planted to the ground. Have fun and play with moving your arms in various directions. Focus on how this feels: the peace in calmness of the mind, the gratitude for finding balance in challenging movements, as subtle as they may be. The message here is to adjust with life rather than fight it.
Balance in life
While doing tree pose in class one day, one of my favorite yoga instructors suggested that our state of balance in tree pose on our mat is often a reflection of the current balance we have in our lives.
In all, the tree pose reminds us to find balance, keep a strong foundation, strive to grow and reach higher, no matter what the outside elements are doing around us.
Peace. Love. Namaste.