Vrksasana, known as Tree Pose, is a satisfying and rewarding asana (pose.) It also happens to be one of my favorites with good reason. This asana builds strength, increases flexibility, opens the hips, lengthens the spine and builds up balance skills – plus it’s fun! It may seem a bit tricky at first, but your wobbly, unstable sapling will mature, expand and branch out into a beautiful, thick tree in no time with the following techniques.
Begin by standing straight with your feet together. Slowly start to shift all of your weight onto your left side. Transfer all of your weight onto the left leg and rest the heel of the right foot against your left ankle. Find your stability first and just hang out for a bit here before bringing your foot up onto your inner thigh. Never-ever place the foot on the knee as this can cause injury. Feel free to use your hand to guide your ankle up so you can place your heel against the upper thigh.
“Lock” yourself in this position by pushing your foot into your thigh and simultaneously pushing the thigh back into your foot. This opposite force will further firm your form and make this balancing act a lot more stable. While you’re here, go ahead and pull your knee back while at the same time tilting your tailbone down toward the ground to open up that pelvic area of yours. Feels great, right?
When we first attempt any balancing poses it is important that we keep our eyes open. If we close our eyes it becomes more difficult to find equilibrium. Extra advanced Yogis practice with their eyes closed, but let’s avoid that for now – We don’t want any trees to come tumbling down. Instead, pick a fixed object just above your mat or directly ahead of you and gaze there with your palms together at your chest. The steadiness of that object will be a cue for your mind to mimic that quality and it will help you stay focused.
When you’re balanced, slowly raise your arms above your head. Extend your branches outward to fully express your tree. Your leg is your trunk and your foot is the root system. Elongate and stretch the spine by rooting the foot into the Earth while extending upward through the arms as if you are trying to touch the sky.
Visualization is a powerful tool for transformation as well. Think of your favorite tree; picture all of its details. Imagine that you are this tree and embody all of its qualities – Tall, proud, majestic, strong, resistant, beautiful and wise.
Don’t hold your breath. Beginners tend to retain their breath when they are focused and holding a pose – Don’t. Breathe fluidly and focus on releasing any unnecessary tension you may be holding instead. This will make your life as a tree much easier.
Be the Tree
After performing a proper Tree Pose on your right side, do the same for your left side. In time, you will grow into a master tree and when you feel brave you can practice more advanced variations of this pose. For now, just stick with these tricks and concentrate on perfecting your tree. When the time is right, you’ll know it’s the season for venturing further out and exploring the world of balance a bit deeper. Keep these tips in mind throughout each stage of this pose. Eventually, you won’t even need to think. The embodiment of a tree will become effortless to you – like second nature.