Save a Tree Pose

The Tree Pose (Vrksasana) is built around balance, and it gives many yoga practitioners trouble. However, there are some simple steps (pun intended) you can take to better your balance and deepen your experience in Tree Pose.

To approach the Tree, it is best to master the Mountain. Tree Pose begins with standing in Mountain Pose. Then draw your right heel up to your left inner thigh and place your palms together in namaste. You can then raise your prayer hands together over your head, fully extending your arms.

That was the easy part. The difficulty in improving Tree Pose is finding and maintaining your center, while focusing on your breath, while practicing a “soft gaze” (Drishti), all while standing on one foot and not having your hands stretched out by your sides for balance.

The trick for a successful Tree Pose is working on each part separately before moving on to the next and realizing one key point: you are a tree that can get back up after it has fallen.

Since you begin with Mountain Pose, focus on soft, even breaths before moving into Tree Pose. As you begin to draw your right foot toward your left, focus your center of balance down your median line, not just shifting your weight onto your left leg. Before you begin raising your right foot along your left leg, pick an immovable point about 4 to 5 feet away and practice the “soft gaze,” neither straining your eyes with focus nor closing them. Draw your right foot up as far as you are comfortable. It can be at your left ankle and you are still in Tree Pose.

Now for the fun part. All living trees sway to some degree; they move when the winds blow. You, too, should practice allowing yourself to sway, in and out of Tree Pose, playing with your center. Using a nearby wall to catch yourself will help you regain balance more quickly. If you practice swaying in Tree Pose, you will come to learn that your movement is not really what is bringing you in and out of balance; rather it is the focus on your center that does it.

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