Tree pose, a balancing pose, is great for exploring the relationship between grounding and balancing. It strengthens the feet and legs, it broadens and opens the hips, strengthens the back, and it helps you find balance, something we all need more of in life.
Approach this pose with a light heart, an open mind and lots of compassion.
Have fun with it! Remember, the only trees that survive the storms are those who are willing to bend with the wind.
Begin standing at the front of your mat. Press firmly into the four corners of your left foot, and feel yourself firmly rooting into the earth, like the healthy roots of a tree. Take your hands to your hips; engage your thigh muscles to lift your kneecaps. From your right hip, externally rotate your right leg, and tuck the arch of your right foot against your left ankle. If this feels comfortable, use your leg strength to pull your right foot further up your leg to your calf. Make sure your hip points are parallel; your right hip may want to ride up or forward as you lift your leg, but work to keep it in the same plane as your left. Press your right foot into your left calf, and with equal force, press your calf into your foot. If you are working to balance here, then remain here. Concentrate on opening the hip of the bent leg and grounding into the supporting leg. Feel your breath come and go easily. If your body feels able, take your heel up into your groin. This will bend your knee deeply, which requires long quadriceps muscles, so don’t force it.
Engage your core to help keep you stable in the pose. Draw the low belly in, lengthen the spine and make sure your shoulders are square and back. There are several variations you can take with your arms. They might remain at your hips, helping you to stabilize. Or you can take them into Anjali (“AHN-jah-Lee”) mudra: press your palms and fingertips together, in a position of prayer and press your thumbs gently into your sternum, while you press your sternum into your thumbs. Additionally, you can take your hands overhead, palms facing inward, hands together or apart. Keep your shoulders tracking down your back. Keep your gaze, or drishti (“DRISH-tee”) focused on one point, on the floor in front of you, or at a fixed point on the horizon, to help keep your mind focused and steady. Take five strong grounded breaths before you release the pose and switch sides.
As listed above, there are several ways to do this pose. Take your foot up as high as you can while maintaining your balance in the pose. Kristen reminds us, “Don’t be so focused on getting to a certain point. There’s no point that you have to get to."
"Find a place in your own body where you can balance.”
Even if you are wobbling, or even falling out of the pose, you’re balancing.
Make sure points: Make sure you don’t place the foot of your bent leg on the opposite knee. Pressing the foot of your bent leg into the opposite knee is a sure road to injury. Don’t be in a hurry to raise the foot higher than it wants to go. Additionally, let the toes of your standing leg be semi-relaxed, rather than gripping the mat with your toes.