Tree Pose is a yoga asana that requires balance and focus. The name comes from the Sanskrit word “vriksasana,” which means “tree.” To begin, stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Shift your weight to your left foot and place your right foot on your left ankle, calf, or thigh (avoiding the knee). Press your palms together in front of your chest.
As you inhale, lift your arms overhead. Gaze up at your thumbs and lengthen through the crown of your head. As you exhale, root down through both feet and draw the lower belly in to help maintain balance.
Stay here for 5-8 breaths before coming out of the pose and repeating on the other side.
Our society is set-up to foster dependency on almost everything around us. The sense of dependency is so ingrained in our culture that many of us would be at a complete loss if we didn’t have clean, running water or electricity for more than a day or two. In the same way, many of us are also psychologically dependent on the diversity of electronic stimuli that is available to us at all hours of the night and day.
This “electronic entertainment” includes cell phones, tablets, televisions, computers and so on. There are endless ways that we can all distract ourselves from emotions or memories that cause anxiety or are distressing to one extent or another. A comprehensive practice of Yoga poses, breathing exercises, chanting sacred mantras, and periods of meditation all help to facilitate and nurture our connection to an independent source of happiness that is not hampered by external experiences.
The “toolbox” of Yoga practices originated in India over 5,000 years ago. It is a tried and true comprehensive series of postures, breathing exercises, moral guidelines, and contemplative practices that free one of internal and external suffering. Of course, in the context of a serious illness or injury, the practices of Yoga may not be able to completely eradicate your suffering, but a regular Yoga practice will help to relieve your suffering and keep your spirits and mind in a more positive state.
Vriksasana or Tree Pose
Tree Pose is a very effective Yoga asana for improving balance, strengthening the legs and opening the hips. Tree Pose is also a wonderful Yoga asana for helping to ground you on your own feet, while simultaneously connecting you to the heavens above. Additionally, this Yoga posture facilitates the withdrawal of the senses through pratyahara as it challenges you to have patience with yourself.
To practice Vriksasana or Tree Pose, come to Tadasana at the front of your Yoga mat. You may wish to practice a series of Sun Salutations to warm up your body before practicing Tree Pose. However, Tree Pose can also be practiced as a stand-alone Yoga asana. It is lovely to practice Tree Pose after grounding first in Tadasana. When you are ready, with an inhale shift your weight to your left foot and place your right foot against your calf or above your knee on the inside of your left thigh.
Do not place your foot directly on your knee. This will strain the knee joint and could cause an injury. Depending on your level of flexibility today, place your right foot flush against your upper calf or lower inner thigh of your left leg with your toes pointing toward the floor. Exhale as you settle into the pose, and with your next inhale raise your arms over your head. Press your palms together in Prayer Position. Elongate your spine and feel the ground beneath you as your hands reach towards the heavens.
Pick a gazing point or drishti on the Yoga mat or floor in front of you. Hold this point while you breath deeply and fully for three to five breaths. As you practice Tree Pose, you will notice that if your mind wanders and your gaze becomes unsteady, your stance will become unsteady as well.
If this happens, simply continue to breath and refocus your gaze on a singular point on the floor or mat in front of you. As one Yoga teacher was known to say, “Trees sway. If you sway, simply refocus your gaze on a point in front of you and continue to breathe.”
Too Much Sway
If you sway so much that you fall out of the pose, simply reestablish the posture and continue to hold Vriksasana until your are ready to come out of the posture. Tree Pose offers many Yoga practitioners the opportunity to practice patience over and over again.
When you are finished with your practice of Tree Pose on the right side, with an exhale release your hands and your right foot and come back to Tadasana at the front of your Yoga mat. Pause for a moment in Tadasana, and then repeat Tree Pose on the left side when you are ready.
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Tree Pose Benefits and Contraindications
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Looking for a yoga pose that can improve your balance, strengthen your legs and core, and bring a sense of calm to your mind? Look no further than the tree pose! This popular standing posture offers a wide range of benefits for both body and mind. Before you step onto the mat, it’s important to know about some potential contraindications too. Let’s explore all that the tree pose has to offer – as well as how to practice it safely and effectively.
The Benefits of Tree Pose
When done correctly, tree pose is a great way to improve your balance and flexibility. It also helps to strengthen your feet, ankles, knees, thighs, hips, and core. Additionally, tree pose can help relieve stress and tension in the lower back and shoulders.
There are a few things to keep in mind when doing tree pose. First, make sure that you have a strong foundation by planting your feet firmly on the ground. Second, be sure to engage your core muscles to help you stay upright. Finally, don’t forget to breathe.
If you’re looking for a challenge, try adding some arm movements to your tree pose. For example, you can raise your arms overhead or bring your hands into prayer position in front of your chest. Just be sure not to put too much pressure on your neck or shoulders.
The Contraindications of Tree Pose
When it comes to practicing yoga, it’s important to be aware of the contraindications of each pose. While tree pose may offer a number of benefits, there are also certain times when it’s not recommended.
Some of the contraindications of tree pose include:
1. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or glaucoma, avoid this pose.
2. Pregnant women should avoid tree pose as well.
3. If you have any issues with your balance, be careful practicing this pose. It’s best to practice near a wall or have someone nearby to help support you.
4. People with knee problems should also use caution when practicing tree pose. Try not to put too much pressure on the knees and be sure to listen to your body if you start to feel any pain.
Tips for Practicing Tree Pose
Assuming you are already familiar with the basic alignment of tree pose, here are a few tips to help you practice this pose safely and effectively:
1. Start by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, shift your weight onto your left foot. Bring your right foot up to rest against your left ankle, inner thigh, or calf. If you need some support, you can place your hand on a nearby wall or chair.
2. Once you feel stable, take another deep breath in and raise your arms overhead. As you exhale, bring your palms together in front of your heart in prayer position.
3. You can stay here for a few breaths or if you’re feeling steady, begin to slowly lower your hips into a squatting position. Keep your spine straight and press down firmly through both feet. Hold for a few breaths then return to standing. Repeat on the other side.
4. If you’re feeling more advanced, try adding a bind by reaching your right arm around the back of your body and clasping the fingers of your left hand. Alternatively, you can also reach up overhead with both arms and bring the palms together above your head.
Alternatives to Tree Pose
If you have any knee, hip, or lower back pain, tree pose might not be the best yoga pose for you. Modifications and props can help make the pose more comfortable. If you still experience pain after trying these modifications, avoid the pose and try one of these alternatives:
Warrior III: As a balance posture, Warrior III is a great alternative to tree pose if you are experiencing knee, hip, or lower back pain. To do Warrior III, start in a standing position with your feet together. Shift your weight onto your left foot and lift your right leg off the ground behind you. Bend your torso forward until it is parallel to the ground and reach your arms out in front of you. Hold for 5-10 breaths before switching sides.
Camel Pose: As a heart opening posture, Camel pose is another great alternative to tree pose if you have knee, hip, or lower back pain. To do camel pose, start by kneeling on the ground with your knees hip-width apart. Place your hands on your low back and press your hips forward as you arch your back. Reach your right hand back to grab your right ankle and pull your heel toward your glutes. Hold for 5-10 breaths before switching sides.
Variations of Tree Pose
There are many variations of tree pose, each with its own unique benefits and contraindications. To choose the right variation for you, it’s important to consider your own fitness level and health concerns.
If you’re new to yoga, or looking for a gentle tree pose variation, try standing against a wall. This will help you maintain your balance and alignment while you build strength in your legs and core.
If you have strong legs and a healthy back, you can try the classic tree pose. This involves standing on one leg with the other leg extended out to the side and your arms stretched overhead. For an extra challenge, try closing your eyes while in this pose.
Another advanced tree pose variation is Eagle Pose, which involves wrapping your extended leg around your standing leg and bringing your hands together in prayer position at your chest. This deepens the stretch in your hips and groin while also strengthening your upper body.
To modify tree pose with a wall or chair, begin in mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart and your palms resting on your thighs. Take a deep breath in and raise your right foot to rest against the inside of your left ankle, thigh, or outer calf. Press your foot firmly into the support. exhale as you bring your palms together in front of your chest in prayer position.
If using a wall for support, place your palms on the wall at shoulder height and lean your weight into them as you lift your left foot to rest against the wall at waist height. If using a chair, place your palms on the back of the chair and lean your weight into them as you lift your left foot to rest on the seat of the chair. Again, press both feet firmly into their respective supports.
Remain here for 5-10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Therapeutic Value of Tree Pose
The therapeutic value of tree pose is often understated. This restorative yoga pose can help to relieve stress, tension headaches, and fatigue. It can also improve your balance and coordination. If you have high blood pressure, tree pose can help to lower it. If you suffer from insomnia, tree pose can help you to fall asleep more easily.
Tree Pose is a great yoga pose to practice, especially for beginners. It helps to improve balance, strength and flexibility while also calming the mind. It’s important to understand the contraindications of this posture so you can modify if necessary and always practice safety first. With regular practice, you’ll be able to reap the full benefits that tree pose has to offer.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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3 thoughts on “Nurturing Independence with Yoga – Tree Pose”
Thanks for giving us everything we ever wanted to know about Tree Pose on this page. On top of all the writing you included so many different approaches in the instructional videos. This might be the largest collection of Tree Pose videos in a complete tutorial. Tree Pose is a wonderful Yoga asana for helping to ground you on your own feet, while simultaneously connecting you to the heavens above. Thank You So Much!!!
Practicing yoga help to facilitate and nurture our connection to an independent source of happiness and thus way Tree Pose is a very effective Yoga asana for improving balance, strengthening the legs and opening the hips. Really its very informative article, Thanks.
Tree Pose is a yoga Asana practice, but it’s a very challenging practice you have to balance your body perfectly. When I started doing this pose I was really struggling with my feet. Your blog helps me a lot.