Tree pose strengthens your legs, flexes your angles and lengthens your spine. Most importantly, tree pose maintains and improves your balance — and almost anyone can do it!I
If you can stand up, can probably do tree pose. This is why it’s difficult for little kids. They haven’t been standing that long. As we age, standing and balancing can become increasingly difficult. But by standing on one foot for just one minute (30 seconds per day, per foot), most adults will maintain a sense of balance throughout their life. It sounds like a preposterous claim, but try it for 30 seconds.
Here is a simple progression for mastering this amazing pose:
1. Tree Pose (Vrksasana) With Airplane Arms
If balancing is a challenge for you, start here. Begin with your left foot firmly planted on the ground. Tune in to the sensation of your foot making contact with the ground. Lift your right heel so you are balancing on tiptoe. Raise your arms to the side and notice your sense of balance.
Find a point straight ahead of you on which to focus your gaze. Lift your right toes off the floor so you are standing on one foot. You’re in tree pose! After 30 seconds, set your foot down and follow the same progression on your right leg for the same amount of time.
2. Tree Pose With Foot To Calf And Gyan Mudra
Once you feel confident standing on one foot, you can progress up the tree pose ladder. The next rung is putting the bottom of your foot on the inside of your leg at the calf. It is very important not to place your foot on your knee, as you risk the possibility of joint dislocation. Keep your toes pointing down or even slightly toward the back, not forward. This action will gently open your hips.
Lift your arms up and spread them like the branches of a tree. Touch your forefingers to your thumbs in an “OK” symbol. This is the mudra of knowledge or “Gyan Mudra.” It will give an added boost to your efforts of concentration.
3. Tree Pose
If the first two levels were easy for you, reach down and grab your foot. Place your right heel at the root of your left thigh. See if you can hold your leg in place using your muscles and not your hands. It helps to wear shorts or non-slippery pants.
Once you’ve freed your hands, place your palms together in front of your chest. Gently press them together to further engage your lateral balance. Or you can opt to keep your palms together and raise them overhead with your arms straight in a slightly more challenging version of tree pose.
4. Free Tree
If you’ve got this, challenge yourself. Go in and out of a full tree pose without using your hands at all. Can you get your foot to your calf or your inner thigh without grabbing your foot? Can you move from another balancing pose, such as half moon or eagle pose to tree pose and back? These are all fun ways to improve your balance and your mastery.
Tree pose is a natural and foundational way to balance. I love to find my Tree pose in unique settings like on rocks or logs. Just like anything, practice will result in improvement. Most importantly, whatever you do with your body should be fun. And as most kids will tell you, tree pose definitely makes the cut!
Interested in learning more basic yoga moves? Try these: