This noble pose reminds us of our connection to the earth, which sustains and nourishes all living beings. We spend so much time walking on floors and pavement that our link to the earth is weakened.
The Tree Pose or Vrksasana is a one-legged balance pose that helps to stabilize the pelvis and strengthen the legs and ankles. The Sanskrit word vrksasana is pronounced vrik-shah-sana is also spelt 'vrikshasana'. It is a combination of two words:
vriksha or vrksa = tree
asana = pose
This standing pose has three lines of energy radiating outward from your center. One line travels down the straight leg, one line stretches up the spine and out the arms, and a third line moves outward through the bent knee. The hips is in a cat tilt – the abdominals are gently pulled backward toward the spine and the coccyx is pointed straight down (toward the left heel) so the sacrum becomes more vertical. The tree pose makes it clear how challenging it can be to stand on one leg.
The Importance of Balancing Yoga Poses
Improved balance refers not only to gaining heightened physical coordination but to the balance of power between the left and right, front and back, and high and low aspects of the body. Most of us are not balanced and therefore do much of what we do asymmetrically. We might be stronger on one side, such as the right side, and weaker on the left. We can probably turn our head or twist our spine farther in one direction than we can on the other. We might be able to cross our legs with the left leg on top, but not the right, or vice versa. We might be able to bend forward with ease but not backward.
The disadvantage of not being balanced in all aspects of our body and being asymmetrical creates a certain level of stress and strain throughout the body. Some parts are overworked and others neglected leading to injury, pain and discomfort.
The practice of balance poses in yoga will help create symmetry in the whole body, making you strong and flexible in a balanced way.
Benefits of Tree Pose or Vrksanana
There are many benefits to performing the tree pose. It not only improves balance but also strengthens the muscles and centers the alignment of the body. The tree yoga pose benefits are:
- develops balance
- improves posture
- helps stabilize the pelvis
- elongates the spine
- strengthens the legs and ankles
- increases flexibility of the inner thigh muscles
- stretches the groins and inner thighs
- helps with balancing and centering
- develops concentration
- increases stability and develops poise
- increases flexibility in hips and knees
- opens the chest
- relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet
- tones shoulder muscles
- steadies the nerves
- helps one to become calm
The tree pose helps to achieve symmetry reducing the strain and stress in different parts of the body. This is a simple pose, but the ability to flatten the pelvis releases tension in this area.
Tips to do the Tree Yoga Pose or vrksasana
How to do the Tree Pose or Vrikshasana
The way to do the tree pose or vrksasana without support and free-standing can be done in the following way:
- stand erect in Mountain Pose or tadasana, feet together
- stand with your eyes fixed on a focal point in front of you
- bear the weight of your body on your right leg by tightening the thigh muscle
- inhale and raise your left leg, placing the sole of the foot onto the calf muscle or inner thigh of the standing leg. If your foot slips, hold your ankle with one hand. Caution: make sure there is no pressure on the knee. If you cannot raise the leg up to the inner thigh then place the foot near the ankle with your toes on the floor to begin with.
- stretch the inner groin of the bent leg by taking the knee out to the side, aligning the knee with the hip
- breathe deeply
- spread your toes fully and snuggle your left foot firmly into the floor. Become grounded, merge with the earth, and allow the weight of your body to sink downward into that foot. The more you allow your weight to sink into the foot, the more certain your balance will be
- fix your gaze on something that is not moving, then don't let your mind move. Maintain a steady, soft gaze and clear focus. This will concentrate the mind, which will facilitate balance.
- once you are balanced raise your arms above your head or clasp your hands in Namaste at the center of the chest. If you are holding onto your leg, raise your other hand to the middle of the chest or rest your open palm at the heart center.
- Hold for 8 to 10 breaths
- exhale and return your raised leg to the floor and lower your arms
- stand motionless for a few moments
- repeat on the other side.
Note: Ideally, the abdominal plane should be facing straight ahead with the bent knee stretching straight outward to the side, not angling toward the front as is its tendency. The main action of the pose is to flatten the pelvis. The three energy lines work together to help you do this.
Variations: If you find it difficult to maintain your balance, you may also perform this pose while lying on your back. You can also stand with your back braced against a wall if you feel unsteady in this pose. It is also helpful to stand close to a wall and take its support whenever you seem to go off balance.
As your concentration improves you will notice that you will be able to maintain the tree pose for longer periods and be able to reap all its benefits through regular practice. This pose is beneficial to relieve sciatica in the legs. Other helpful standing balance poses are the chair pose and the eagle pose.
Resources for Further Practice
- Beginning Yoga Poses
Regular practice of yoga poses builds up the body's inner strength and natural resistance, improves muscle tone and removes toxins. Find out some of the beginners yoga poses.
- Yoga Standing Poses: Energize, Stretch and Strengthen Your Body
Standing yoga poses can help improve posture, concentration and balance. They stretch, tone and strengthen the muscles all over the body through forward bends, side bends, back bends, and lunges.
- How to Improve Flexibility of Tight Hamstrings with ...
Did you know that tight hamstrings can cause many injuries, poor posture, inhibit movement, and back pain? Learn how to loosen your hamstrings with yoga and improve performance in sports and daily life.
- Yoga Poses for Hips
The hips and buttocks bear the weight or the human body and determine its balance. It is important to strengthen and ensure good muscle tone for easy movement and flexibility in daily life. Learn about some of the yoga poses that can benefit the hip
Sushma Webber (author) from New Zealand on April 24, 2013:
@rasta1 and @heidithorne, you both are right. It does help with balancing the left and right brain. I too had the opportunity to do it in yoga class and found that my muscle strength and balance was not so good! Yes, it definitely calls for more practice.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 23, 2013:
We were just doing this in a yoga class on Saturday. It is very helpful. I just have to remember to do it more often!
Marvin Parke from Jamaica on April 22, 2013:
This technique definitely helps to balance the left and right brain. When I first attempted this pose, I realized my coordination skills were poor. This pose really helped me.