TREE POSE – VRKSASANA
Tree pose, one of the most emblematic Yoga poses, is also a great one to improve balance. Vrksasana is a challenging pose, metaphor of physical and mental steadiness, which is why we need to be calm and still to get into it.
If you are new to tree pose, do not rush into it: take your time and if it happens to lose balance…smile, nobody is judging!
From Tadasana, move your whole bodyweight on one leg, let’s say on the left one (this leg will not be parallel to the floor anymore, but rather slightly in diagonal); draw the right foot up. To begin, it’s enough to place it at the side of your ankle or calf, but if you feel ready, place the plant on the left inner thigh, heel into the groin, toes pointing toward the floor.
Attention: your foot should not sty by your knee: this might cause injuries!
To find the perfect balance, you can challenge yourself by pushing your foot against the thigh and resisting with the latter. Those counterbalancing forces will create a lot of energy and help you balancing.
In the most traditional pose, hands are in Anjali Mudra (prayer, in front of your heart), but if you feel rooted enough, you can bring them up to the sky, as the branches of your tree.
For beginners, I suggest placing the foot by the ankle, and lift it to the groin only after having gained enough expertise. It’s also possible to practice alongside a wall or other support, to avoid injuries due to bad falls.
For the more experts, I invite you to challenge yourself bending your torso to the right and to the left. You can also remain vertical and close your eyes to check how it feels to practice without the outer world as a reference.
BENEFITS AND SYMBOLIC MEANING
Tree pose is excellent to build strength in the whole supporting leg and abdomen, while stretching the bent leg. Idea to improve the balance, Vrksasana has proved to be capable of remedying flat feet and is reducing the pain due to inflammations of the sciatic nerve.
It is crucial to think of Tree pose not as a static balancing pose, but rather as the foundation of the lower body, case of our soul, which allows the upper body to move and sway, like the branches of a tree tending to the sky. The deeper the roots, the teller the tree.
This metaphor is useful to conceive the idea that Vrksasana helps developing our ability to concentrate and to develop a meditative state of mind. Bringing this still attitude of the mind outside the practice, to daily life, will be helpful to balance all of your lifestyle choices, especially when you feel off-balanced, decreasing stress and anxiety.