Improve your balance and find your inner peace with a one legged asana.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana) Step-By-Step Guide
Start by entering Tadasana.
Slowly shift your body weight on either your left and right foot without changing the position of your leg. For this guide, we will explain using the left one.
Slowly bend the other knee, and use your hand to grab your ankle.
Raise your right foot until the sole rubs against your inner opposite thigh. Bring your foot as high as possible on your thigh.
Your toe should towards the mat and your lower belly should be directly over your right foot.
Rest your arms on the upper edge of your lower belly. Make sure your core is in a neutral position and your back is straight.
Apply some pressure on your inner thigh using your right foot, and bring your hands together in Anjali Mudra.
Gaze forward at a fixed point on the wall that happens to be at eye-level with you.
Hold the pose from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhale in Tadasana, and repeat the process using the other leg.
While the tree pose seems fairly simple in the beginning, perfecting it can take a little bit of practice.
To help you out, I have put together a section dedicated to the most common mistakes made by beginners.
Not Gazing Forward at Eye Level
It may seem like it is not that important to keep your gaze forward at eye level. But if you skip this step, you might have issues maintaining your balance.
Not Opening the Chest
When you hold the tree pose, your spine should be straight and your chest should be open. A sedentary lifestyle that includes working in an office can lead to a number of habits, which include hunching your shoulders.
To fight against that tendency, draw your shoulder blades toward each other.
Not Engaging the Core and Tilting Forward
Many beginners tend to forget about engaging their core, which is key for maintaining balance.
Focusing only on your legs can be detrimental to the pose. When your core is not engaged, you have the tendency to tilt forward.
To fix this, draw in your core muscles as if you were doing a plank. This gives you better control over your upper body.
Foot Placed on the Knee
Depending on your fitness level, you can go up with your foot on the length of your inner thigh until you touch your groin area.
However, you should not keep your foot on your knee. To fix this, slowly bring your foot up as much as you are comfortable.
Not Distributing the Weight Evenly on the Toes
Many beginners make the mistake of not distributing their weight on their toes. It may seem easier in the beginning to put more pressure on your toes, but soon enough you will feel pain and discomfort.
Focus on distributing your weight evenly.
Beginner’s Tip: Make sure the surface you practice on is not slippery. Always do standing asanas barefoot with no socks on.
There are many ways you can modify the tree pose to make it easier or more challenging for yourself.
You can also use some of these variations to hit different muscle groups and energetic points in your body.
Arch Your Torso
This variation is meant to change your balance and deepen your pose.
The traditional tree pose uses an engaged core to maintain balance. You can challenge your leg muscle groups by leaning your torso toward your bent knee.
Your arm should rest on your upper leg, and you need to tilt your gaze toward the ceiling. Do not attempt this variation unless you have already mastered the traditional tree pose and have advanced balance skills.
Tree Pose with Your Back on the Mat
If you want to practice the tree pose but are afraid you cannot maintain your balance, you are in luck.
Lay your back on the mat and imitate the traditional tree pose as if you were standing. This enables you to get all the calming effects of the pose without challenging your back.
The only modification needed to perform this modification is using your arms.
Stand near a wall and perform the original version of the tree pose. But instead of holding your palms in Anjali Mudra, raise your hands up and keep them straight with your fingers extended as if you were attempting to touch the ceiling.
Close Your Eyes
This variation is perfect for those who have issues concentrating on breathing while holding the tree pose.
Eliminating visual input requires more balance, but it helps you block out the world around you and focus on controlled breathing.
Benefits of Tree Pose
The tree pose is one of the foundational asanas that you will find in almost all the Yoga styles. It is widely used to prepare the body for more advanced poses.
There are many benefits, but the most important ones are linked to improving posture and balance, and strengthening your thighs and arms.
Fights off Stress and Anxiety
If you are feeling overwhelmed, the tree pose can help you slow down, relax your body, and free your mind.
To enhance the calming effect, close your eyes and focus on your breathing while dodging any thought that comes to your mind.
Starting your day with the tree pose can energize you and help you get through a stressful day with stoicism.
Strengthens Your Legs
Having a sedentary lifestyle can result in a lot of harm. If you find yourself sitting most of the day, you probably lack strength in your legs.
If you hate the idea of doing squats or any other form of exercise that will make you sweat too much, putting all of your body weight on one leg will save you time.
When practiced regularly, you will not only improve your balance but your body will gain some lean mass when paired with a diet rich in protein.
Since one leg is holding your entire body weight while the other is pressing against your thigh, you are working two major muscle groups at the same time.
Opens Your Chest and Improves Mobility
While you hold the tree pose, you are being taught how to open your chest. Keep your shoulders in the right position and force your legs to interact with each other while maintaining your balance.
Opening the chest and shoulder area is extremely important when attempting to avoid back problems, bad posture and hunching.
On top of this, pressing your foot against your inner thigh will improve your mobility.
Improves Your Balance and Prepares You for Advanced Poses
If you have ever had a yoga goal that includes an advanced pose you always wanted to master, starting with the foundational asanas is a great way to work your way up.
Many advanced Yoga poses require a combination of strength, flexibility and balance. The tree pose helps you find your balance by strengthening your legs and stimulating your root chakra.
Opens Your Pelvic Area
The pelvic area, one of the most neglected parts of your body, is usually ignored since it does not include any major muscle groups.
However, it actually plays an important role. By opening and strengthening the pelvic area, you can avoid pain as you age. You also become more flexible.
The pelvic area is known to hold a lot of negative energy. By keeping it closed, you are more susceptible to depression and bitterness.
The Tree Pose and the Root Chakra
Perhaps the best part about practicing and getting accustomed to the tree pose is the strength and energy that you will experience while holding the pose.
The tree pose stimulates the root chakra, the energetic point in your body that is responsible for your basic needs and feeling of belonging.
When our root chakra is on the low end, we may feel like we have no place of our own. We move often. Our financial situation is not at its brightest. We do not know who to trust. We simply are not rooted in our lives.
A weakened root chakra can also make our legs more prone to injuries and health issues, as the legs keep us grounded.
This could include an old injury that continues to bother you, or even flat feet, which is an arch support issue.
If you are experiencing any of these signs, you may benefit from regular practice of the tree pose as well as other asanas that stimulate the root chakra.
On the flip side, if you have too much root chakra, you will find it hard to let go of the things that you own or the people you love.
It could be a dying relative or even a breakup that leaves you with a bitter taste for months.
Too much root chakra makes us overly attached to our careers, our positive physical traits, family, lovers, and anything that makes us feel grounded.
Pregnant women and yoga practitioners who suffer from leg pain, back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome should avoid the tree pose.
Also, avoid this asana if you have issues with your blood pressure (too high or too low) or suffer from migraines.
Did you benefit from this article? Did I miss anything? Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated – please post in the comments and I will personally respond!
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