Vrksasana: Tree Pose for Balance
As we head into day two of the #TaketheLeap challenge with Prana and Fit Approach, I wondered what the pose would be. What the practice would be. What I should share with y’all to help you on your personal yoga journeys.
And, as these things tend to happen, the Universe delivered the pose to me.
I got a nasty spider bite somehow and my body does NOT like it. I mean does NOT NOT like it. My whole leg has swelled up like a balloon (the bite is on the calf) and I am suddenly blessed with a fabulously huge cankle. Not to mention the whole red/itchy/painful nastiness of it all. Pretty weird, but thankfully I’ll be okay soon.
But the spider bite served as an important reminder to me.
Thank goodness for good balance.
Because of my running, my level of physical fitness and, most importantly, because of my YOGA, I am able to balance with ease. Hobbling on one leg isn’t the end of the world for a couple of days (although not running is driving me a little cray-cray). I’m going to use this time to appreciate my legs, appreciate my body, and appreciate the years of tree poses.
That’s right. Because thanks to tree pose, I have a strong balance and know how to easily get grounded and stand tall.
Plus, it’s just a super fun pose!
Tree pose was one of my first “favorite” yoga poses to do.
Here I am trying my hand at tree pose (with an interesting arm variation) as a little kid in Glacier National Park, taken by Dad:
Here I am trying it in 2004 or 2005, taken by a friend in a photography class:
Here I am today, taken by a lovely friend who is a professional photographer:
It’s also just a really love pose and Ashlee Hamon takes a great photo:
And, as long as we have one leg, we can practice tree pose. (Walls and chairs are totally okay to use if you need a helping hand!)
Here’s how YOU can do as a part of your #TakeTheLeap thirty days of yoga journey!
Vrksasana aka Tree Pose
Benefits at a glance: balance, hip opener, stabilizer, strengthens standing leg’s ankle/calf/thigh/etc. With arms raised also works to improve posture and lengthen the spine! It can also help open the shoulders, the back, and more! (Though my favorite part as a runner is usually the groin stretch and work to stabilize and improve my balance!)
How-to do TREE POSE at home:
1) Start in Tadasana or Standing Mountain pose. Look down and make sure both feet are pointing forward and hip width a part. Your feet should be parallel like railroad tracks. Make sure your buttock flesh goes DOWN and check to make sure you aren’t either Elvis-ing your pelvis forward or pushing your booty back too much. (It’s “all about the BASE” in this pose, just not the booty base. 😉 Your foot and standing leg are where it’s at!)
2) Pick which leg you are going to start with. Ground down through the standing leg as you bring your bent leg to your shin, your calf, or all the way up to your thigh (shown below.) DO NOT put your foot on your knee. Your knees are expensive and that can be dangerous!
3) What do you do with your hands? There are MANY options:
- You can keep your arms on your hip
- You can rest one arm on a a wall and the other at heart center or your hips
- You can bring both hands to Anjali mudra (the one we use to say “Namaste”) at heart center (shown below)
- You can extend both arms up shoulder distance apart
- You can bring the hands together in Anjali mudra above your head, like this:
- You could take the arms wider than shoulder-width apart and work on opening and lifting the heart, maybe even playing with a gentle back-bend!
- You could even practice a side-bend with your arms above your head!
4) Where do you look? Drishti (focused gaze) is important for ALL of yoga, but especially balancing poses. Here’s a few to try:
- You can look at the ground
- You can find a spot on the wall in front of you (or an object in front of you) that is NOT moving. I.E. If you’re doing this pose with a pal and the friend is in front of you, don’t look at the wobbly friend. BUT feel free to look past your friend at that funny little speck on the wall.
- You can begin to take your gaze up towards the ceiling or sky above you (shown below)
- You could even get a little saucy and try closing your eyes!
REPEAT entire process on second side! 😉 (don’t forget to do both sides!!)
This pose is great because you can literally #stopdropandyoga and practice it anywhere and anywhere. You can do it with a friend, you can do it alone, you can do it in running shoes, you can do it barefoot on the beach! (Or in winter boots in the snow!)
Here I am getting my TREE on with several of my yoga students:
Plus, it’s the basic standing poses like TREE pose, that help you to someday take this pose in a new angle and try out crazy things like this pose, grasshopper:
So get out there and find your trees today! Extend down into the ground and lift up to the sky! The possibilities for your tree pose are endless! I can’t wait to see you all practicing!
Be sure to tag me (@Lora_Hogan), Fit Approach (@FitApproach), and Prana (@Prana) and use #TakeTheLeap, so we can see your poses!!