Vrksasana | Tree Pose
vrksa = tree
Type of pose : Standing; Balancing
Tree Pose Benefits
• Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
• Stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders
• Improves sense of balance, promotes concentration and focus
• Relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet by practicing lifting through the arches
• Corrects poor posture
• Calms the mental body, has a grounding effect
• Improves circulation
• Recent or chronic injury or inflammation of the knees
• High blood pressure: Don’t raise arms overhead
• Low blood pressure
• Heart conditions
• Avoid holding during the first trimester of pregnancy
Step by Step
• Stand in Tadasana. Shift your weight slightly onto the left foot, keeping the inner foot firm to the floor, and bend your right knee. Reach down with your right hand and clasp your right ankle.
• Draw your right foot up and place the sole against the inner left thigh; if possible, press the right heel into the inner left groin, toes pointing toward the floor. The center of your pelvis should be directly over the left foot. Focus on keeping the left leg strong, straight and steady.
• Rest your hands on the top rim of your pelvis. Make sure the pelvis is in a neutral position, with the top rim parallel to the floor.
• Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Firmly press the right foot sole against the inner thigh and equally press with the left inner thigh.
• Press your hands together in Anjali Mudra. On an exhale you can extend the arms over the head. Gaze softly at a fixed point in front of you on the floor about 4 or 5 feet away.
• Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lower the raised foot to the ground with an exhalation stepping back into Tadasana. Release the arms.
• Repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed.
The foot can go in four positions: foot against ankle with toes on floor; foot against calf; foot against inner thigh; foot crossed on thigh in half lotus. You can stand with your back braced against a wall if you feel unsteady in this pose.
For weak knees: avoid long holding; For tight shoulders: keep hands on hips or in anjali mudra (namaste position) at heart; For inner ear problems or injured legs: keep both legs on the floor; For lameness: have student lie on floor to perform tree.
Variation: Stretch your arms straight up toward the ceiling, parallel to each other, palms facing, or touch the palms together forming an inverted V with the arms.
Beginners Tip: If your raised foot tends to slide down the inner standing thigh, put a folded sticky mat between the raised-foot sole and the standing inner thigh. From Anjali Mudra at the chest, release the palms, open the arms and circle them up over head bringing the palms together. Alternately allow arms to stay in a V position, slightly more open than shoulder width.
Deepen the Pose: As with Tadasana, you can challenge your balance by practicing this pose with your eyes closed. Learn to balance without any reference to the outer environment.
Teaching Tip: Don’t approach a student from the front during this posture; approach from the side or back so as not to disturb their focus and concentration. Place a hand above student’s head and tell them to grow their body up toward your hand while telling them to grow the sacrum and legs down into the ground like the roots of a tree.