Is there a more appropriate place to do tree pose than amongst the trees? I didn’t think so.
This weeks posture is coming to you courtesy of my backyard. Balancing poses can be challenging and Vrksasana (tree pose) is no exception. The key to this pose is bringing your awareness to the midline of your body while grounding down firmly through the standing foot. As usual, there are kramas to this pose that will help you find stillness and balance before moving into full expression of the pose. Begin where you feel comfortable and hold at the stage where you feel integration, steadiness and ease.
To begin, stand in Tadasana (mountain pose). Feel the ground beneath you and the four corners of the feet really rooting into the Earth. When you find that connection, begin to shift your weight to the left foot, bend the right foot and gently grab and place it against the calf. Settle into the first stage of tree pose. Push the right foot into the left calf, toes pointing towards the ground. The pelvis is neutral and directly under the left foot. Bring your right and left hands to touch at heart center to remind you of midline energy. Stay here for a few breaths.
If you are moving on, grab your right foot and place the sole into the inner left thigh. The right heel is pressing into the inner right groin– not on the knee. Lengthen the tailbone towards the floor and roll the shoulders down the back, opening up the chest and collarbones. Keep the left standing leg strong while pushing the right knee out away from the body. Your hands continue to press together at heart center, cultivating awareness of that midline energy that will help keep you from becoming a falling tree!
For the final expression of the pose, grow those branches and lift those arms! Let the gaze be soft and at a fixed point in front of you to help with balance. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute. Release and repeat for the same length of time on the other leg. But if you really want to challenge yourself, try closing your eyes!
Improved balance is one obvious benefit of tree pose, but a more subtle– though equally important benefit– is energetically awakening your connection to the Earth. The focus on standing postures is grounding down to root up. Once you find a stable connection to your foundation, you are able to grow, flourish and open up those branches.