#24 Vrksasana – Tree Pose

Sometimes you’ll see tree pose written as Vriksasana or Vrikshasana.

Yoga was a means of stretching after a jog. Now, over a decade later it has become an obsession. I follow a simple routine of about an hour every morning (and sometimes I practice again on the evenings). Its refreshing and relaxing.

“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim.  The better your practice, the brighter the flame.”   BKS Iyengar

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Since ancient times and across all cultures the tree has been considered sacred. The inherent qualities of the tree are generosity, forbearance, balance, strength, flexibility and tolerance.

All parts of the tree are useful….roots, bark, branches, sap, leaves, flowers, and fruits…shelter, fuel, oxygen and protection.

From a Yogic perspective the roots represent the foundations of integrity and truth, the trunk represents a dedicated practice and the branches are the asanas and postures.

The bark is the protection needed when the mind detaches from the body and focuses inward and the sap is the concentration of the juice of energy at the core of being.

Leaves are related to the lungs and breath. The flowers are meditation and the fruits are the attainment of freedom, poise and peacefulness.

Within a seed is a spark of potential which holds all the wisdom of the mature tree.

A balance is needed; as above so below.  Also between strength and flexibility; if the wood is too rigid it will be brittle, too flexible and it will not support it’s own growth.

As you practise the Tree pose, you may like to personalise what the tree means to you.

Steps:

  1. Starting in Mountain Pose, take a moment to become still and centered.
  2. Find a focal point in the horizon or on the floor several feet ahead of you. Keep your mind on this focal point as you move through this balancing posture.
  3. Staying focused, inhale deeply, and on the exhale gently place the right foot on the inside of the left thigh (or calve, or ankle). Make sure to turn the right knee out to the side, so that it is pointing to the side wall as much as possible. You may use your hands to get your foot into place, if needed.
  4. Once the foot is in place, bring the hands to heart center in ‘prayer’ position. There is a tendency to lean to into the left hip, try to stand tall so that your hip is not popping out.
  5. Staying focused, slowly raise the arms above the head, opening the hands into a ‘willow tree’ formation, while keeping the shoulders relaxed.
  6. Lengthen the tailbone toward the floor.
  7. Lift the collar bones and arms skyward, as you keep the shoulders relaxed and sliding down the spinal column.
  8. Continue in this manner for five to fifteen. Then switch sides.

§ Beginners or those still developing a sense of balance can modify tree pose by keeping the right toes on the ground, and turning out the knee from there. If balance is still a challenge you can stand with your right side facing a wall and place the right hand on the wall for balance.

§ Intermediate students or those who wish to challenge their balance can close the eyes in tree pose. Or, they can go for a bound version of tree pose in which the right foot is place across the left hip instead on the inner thigh of the left leg. The right hand then wraps around the body and holds on to the right foot.

§ Arm variations: you can form an ‘open’ willow tree as described above. Or, if you prefer try becoming a tall pine tree by interlacing the fingers of the raised arms/hands so that just the thumb and index finger point upward. Or if you prefer you can opt to leave the hands in prayer position at heart center.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the thighs, calves, ankles and spine.
  • Stretches the groins, inner thighs, chest and shoulders.
  • Improves balance, relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet.
  • Soothes the mind and nervous system, develops confidence and concentration.

Cautions:

Be cautious if you suffer from headaches, insomnia or low blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure do not raise your arms overhead.

Hope you enjoyed!

See you tomorrow!!

Namaste

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