Tree Pose: Find Opposition to Increase Balance

tree poseTree pose, or Vrksasana, is such an interesting yoga pose! It looks simple enough–just stand on one leg, balance, and reach your arms up. The truth is that if you’re going to do the pose correctly and get the most benefit from this posture, there’s a lot more that has to happen within your body.

Before you even begin, you need to ground down through your feet. You should feel like your feet are pushing through the floor. As your feet press down, feel your spine lengthen. There should be energy traveling up your spine and reaching your head away from your legs.

This oppositional energy is crucial to keep your torso lifted out of your hips. If you start sinking into your hips, you’re going to fall.

Next, make sure that your feet are in neutral by lifting your toes and grounding through the four corners of your feet. Again, if you go to lift your leg and your supporting foot is not in neutral, you will fall.

Finally, when you have your lifted foot on your supporting leg, make sure that there is an even amount of pressure from foot to leg as there is from leg to foot. This equal pressure helps to draw you toward the midline of your body, and your balance will be better.

Keep these ideas in mind while you practice Tree pose, and see what you think. Does this pose feel easier? Do you feel like you have better balance? Let us know in the comments below.

Tree Pose

  1. We will use Ujjayi breathing.
  2. Begin in Tadasana.
  3. Lift your toes so that you feel the four corners of your feet press firmly into the mat. You should feel a point under your big toe, your little toe, and on the inside and outside of your heel.
  4. Firm and tone the muscles in your foot and ankle to the bone. This should help you feel stable.
  5. Actively press your feet into the floor and find length through the top of your head. You should feel like if your body were divided in half, you would be going in two different directions.
  6. Ground down through your right foot.
  7. Bend your left knee. From your hip, rotate your left leg open. Place your left heel to the inside of your right ankle. You should feel your left heel pressing into your right ankle as much as your right ankle presses into your left heel.
  8. Place your hands on your hips for a moment to check that your hips are still facing forward. Sometimes, the hips will drift to the side as the lifting leg rotates open.
  9. Gently join your palms and bring your hands up to heart center.
  10. If you feel stable here, you may bring your left foot up to your calf or upper thigh. Never rest your foot on your knee! The knee is one of the most unstable joints in the body, so applying pressure to it could result in injury.
  11. Once you have your foot in your desired location, broaden your collarbones and reach your arms by your ears, straight toward the ceiling.
  12. Hold here for 5-8 breaths.
  13. To come out, return the hands to heart center, rotate the left leg to parallel, and return it to the ground. You should be back in Tadasana.
  14. Follow the directions to do the other side. Be aware that your right and left sides may not be equal.

Tree Pose Video

Here’s a video for visual learners.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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