Yoga Pose Of the Month: Tree Pose

tree-pose-my-yoga-onlineThis is another one that’s pretty familiar to everyone, but it’s also a great one for balance and focus. It can be tough to get into if you’re just starting out, or especially if your hips are tight, but eventually, with practice, you’ll find a comfortable way to practice it and enjoy it!

What It Does

First of all, it improves balance and helps you ground through your legs and feet. Also, it helps to strengthen your legs, calves, and feet by rooting down through them.

Why It Helps

Aside from the stretching and muscular benefits of standing in the pose, it’s one of the best ways to begin learning balance because you’re facing straight ahead, and you can focus your eyes on a single point. Focusing your eyes and training your mind to balance is a learned practice, and a simple balance pose, standing on one foot, is a great way to start.

Source: CNY Healing Arts
Photo by: Flickr user My Yoga Online

How To Stand Like a Tree

  1. Set your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Choose a foot to begin on, and ground down through that foot, as if you were growing roots into the ground from it, like a tree.
  3. Focus your eyes on a point straight ahead and don’t lose track of that point. Having a focal point will help you keep your balance because your eyes won’t be distracted by other activities or things in the room.
    1. If you have trouble balancing, stand next to a wall to help keep you steady.
  4. Your other foot should be on the ground, but not rooted down. Bring this foot up to your calf, bending it outward into an angle. The angle should be out toward your right or left, not forward. If your hips are tight, only bend as far as is reasonable and comfortable for you.
  5. Press the bottom of your foot into your leg: this will also help to stabilize you in the pose.
  6. Bring your hands into prayer position in front of your chest.
  7. Hold for as long as is comfortable or as long as you typically do in your practice.
  8. When you come out of the pose, do the same with the other foot.

The Finer Details

  • Your hip will be stretched as you bring the foot up. Be sure to flex your leg only as far as is comfortable for your hip. If your hips are tight, you may want to add a couple hip openers to your practice before attempting tree pose.
  • Your head should be level, with your neck in alignment with your spine. Your gaze should be soft as you focus forward.
  • Your foot pressed into your calf should stabilize you, but you should not push so hard that you push your other leg outward, nor set your upper body out of its straight, upward stance.
  • Your stance should be like that of a tree, strong, tall, and straight, reaching your body upward, toward the sun, as your foot (roots) connect to the ground to steady your body (trunk).

Discomfort

Again, any discomfort may be central to your hips which are being opened in a way they may not be used to, so be aware of the discomfort, and only extend your leg as far outward as is comfortable.

You may also experience some knee pain as it is bent at the angle to bring your foot to your calf. Easing up on the outward angle of your leg, and bringing your knee more to the front may help alleviate any discomfort from that position.

Take It To The Next Level

If you are very flexible, and feel confident in your balance, you can try bringing your foot up to the inside of your thigh.

Again, if you’re feeling very balanced, you can bring your arms up over your head, palms facing each other, for more of a challenge.

Lastly, you can close your eyes to challenge yourself in the balance pose. Be aware, standing on one foot with your eyes shut is no easy task, so you may want to work your way up to that as you build up your balance.

Hold It

If you find holding the pose for a count is distracting you from keeping your balance, you may want to focus less on the amount of time you hold the pose and more on the balance itself. No matter how long you’re able to keep the pose and maintain your balance, it’s most important not to hyperextend any of your muscles and not to hurt yourself if you should fall while attempting the pose.

Avoiding injury is always preferable to holding a pose—you can always try the pose again after you regain your balance!

KEEP IT SIMPLE

No matter what, yoga is all about YOU. Getting in touch with your body, your comfort level, and your breath. Never hold a pose longer than is truly comfortable to do so, and if you experience discomfort or pain in a pose, ease up or change poses to relieve the discomfort.

REMEMBER: In yoga, your practice is YOUR practice. Nobody’s yelling at you to move faster, bend lower, or breathe deeper. There’s no competition, no drill sergeant trainer, and no counter telling you how many reps to do. If you can’t get the full pose today, it’s all right. You’ll try it again another time when you feel more flexible and more comfortable with it.

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Disclaimer:  
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