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Utthita Trikonasana, or Extended Triangle Pose, is a foundational standing yoga pose. It is often included in yoga sequences as it helps to increase...
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Vrikshasana, or Tree Pose, is a standing and balancing pose in which the practitioner stands on one leg with the lift foot placed against its inner edge. The knee of the lifted leg should point outwards. Hands can be in a prayer position in front of the chest or extended over the head.
Vrikshasana comes from the Sanskrit word “Vriksha,” meaning tree. The practice of standing on one leg and extending the arms outwards, like branches of a tree, reflects this.
Standing balancing poses like the vrikshasana tree pose has profound benefits for yoga practitioners. Some of these benefits include:
Vrikshasana helps open the Root chakra by grounding the foot into the ground, improving the stability and foundation of life.
At the same time, it activates the Third Eye chakra by standing tall and gazing forward, supporting one’s perception and awareness.
While the Tree pose has many benefits, it is not for everyone and puts those with injuries in a vulnerable position.
Those with knee injuries, back pain, hip injury, or ankle sprains should avoid this pose. People with high blood pressure should practice Vriksana with caution.
If the practitioner is pregnant, they should consult a doctor before practicing this yoga pose. People who suffer from vertigo should not attempt to do this pose.
Make sure to take your time and have a qualified instructor guide you through the posture.
In the standard version of vriksasana, the lifted foot is as close to the pelvis as possible. Beginners may find it easier to practice Tree Pose with the foot lower on the inner thigh or even against the inside edge of the shin.
An alternate approach for those just starting out is to stand with the lifted leg turned out, knee bent up, and foot lifted without touching the standing leg thigh. When using this variation, one can work on raising the knee as high as possible out to the side while keeping it bent or dropping down and bringing their foot as close as possible to their inner thigh while maintaining a knee bend.
Though tree pose generally uses a straight leg, a slight external rotation with toes pointing to the corner of the room may be helpful for some beginners.
Beginner tree pose practitioners can follow these step-by-step instructions:
Two common yoga poses that prepare yoga practitioners for tree pose include:
Lift one knee in front of the chest and then out to the side, hugging it in with both hands while keeping the upper body straight and pelvis level. When lifting the knee to the side, release one arm and use the other to hug the right knee against the body.
Practitioners can lean their glutes against the wall or turn so that their lifted knee comes in contact with the wall.
To make it easier to keep a leg up in Tree pose, practice lifting the knee in front of the body (with the knee bent) and then externally rotate the hip while bending the knee.
To help anchor the hip flexor muscles that attach to these points on the hip bone, focus on doing an upward pull on the end of the hip bone on the raised leg side by lifting the chest and keeping an active core.
To make balancing on one foot easier, one can shift their weight forwards so that the toes and forefoot press down. To practice this, stand in a variation of Mountain pose with feet hip-width apart, then shift forward and back to feel the toes pressing down and relaxing, respectively. Repeat while standing on the other foot.
It is essential to keep the body weight directed forward, towards the big toe. To facilitate this, remain aware of the standing foot while attempting to maintain balance.
If the practitioner feels their weight shifting back, they can counter that tendency by shifting it forward. One will know that their weight is shifting back when they feel a reduction in the pressure in their toes.
Keep the supporting foot muscles engaged and maintain proper alignment while performing the posture. Spread through the toes and press the foot firmly into the floor while making small movements that help maintain balance.
Try to stay relaxed and focus on maintaining an even breath.
Maintaining balance on one leg necessitates stabilizing that leg's foot, knee, and hip. One approach is to focus on stabilizing the hip before moving downwards towards the foot. Alternatively, one could stabilize the foot and ankle first before working up.
Controlling rotation at these joints can be vital for maintaining balance. For example, in Tree Pose, pressing the foot against the inner thigh can affect rotational control of the standing leg; it may be better to press slowly against it.
To get the lifted foot position against the inner thigh of the standing leg, it is generally necessary to lean forward and grip the shin with a hand. As one straightens upright and lifts the leg higher, they should be mindful of continuing to press their toes into the floor or ground so that their weight remains directed forward.
When pressing the foot against the inner thigh, hold the lower leg firmly with the hand and gradually increase pressure. To make balancing easier, try exerting the inner thigh against this pressure simultaneously.
By looping a towel or strap around the shin of the lifted leg, users can increase their reach, making it more straightforward to stay upright while utilizing their hand to lift the leg up.
As soon as the foot is in position, release the strap; unless the practitioner is wearing clothing with low friction, in which case, continue holding onto it to stay balanced.
Try Tree pose standing on an uneven surface such as a folded blanket or folded mat – this will challenge the practitioner’s balance and strengthen small muscles in the feet.
One can explore a bound tree pose by incorporating other poses, such as bringing their right foot into a Half Lotus position, wrapping the right arm behind them, and hooking the big toe with the thumb and forefingers. From here, practitioners can fold forward into Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Standing Forward Bend).