One of the loveliest yoga poses is Tree Pose (Vrksasana). It's a beautiful balancing act with a multitude of variations for all levels.
Tree pose can help improve your balance, and it strengthens your thighs, calves, ankles and spine. It's also good for stretching the inner thighs, chest and shoulders. Plus it can relieve sciatica, as well as reduce negative effects of flat feet.
While there are a number of physical benefits, Tree Pose also improves concentration. As a student, you can immediately notice how your balance improves when you focus your eyes on a single point (Drishti). If your eyes or your mind are wandering, chances are you won't be able to balance.
Yet falling is how we learn and grow. Truthfully, it's inevitable that as you try harder variations, you may wobble or lose balance. The good news is that trees are made to sway in the wind. So if you fall, you just try again. You learn how to observe your balance without judging your performance. Falling is part of the experience.
Here are 5 Steps to Finding Your Tree Pose:
1. Start in Mountain Pose, or Tadasana, with your feet hip distance apart. Spread your toes like roots into the earth and gently shift the weight side to side.
2. Bend your right knee and bring the sole of the right foot onto the left thigh, the heel in the inner left groin. Engage your left quad and resist the foot with the thigh.
3. Place your hands on your hips and lengthen your tailbone to the floor.
4. Set your gaze on a Drishti a few feet in front of you, either on the floor for easier balance or straight ahead.
5. Feel free to bring your hands together in Anjali Mudra (palms together in front of your heart), or raise them overhead.
If this variation is too challenging, try placing your foot on the calf instead of the thigh. Or keep your toes on the floor and just place the heel above your ankle. When you’re ready, lower your foot back down with control. Try the other side without judgment. It might be different than the first side, and that's OK. Remember, don't judge yourself. Just be willing to try and try again.