Tree Pose

Vrksasana clarifies just how challenging it can be to stand on one leg.
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How to Say Vrksasana Sanskrit

(vrik-SHAHS-anna)
vrksa = tree

Tree Pose Step-by-Step Instructions

Chris Dougherty

Chris Dougherty

  1. From Tadasana, bend the right knee and place the right foot high on the left inner thigh, taking the hands to the hips 
  2. Allow the right knee to be as far forward in space as will keep the frontal hipbones square so there is no rotation in the pelvis
  3. Make sure the standing foot continues to point straight forward and press the right foot and the left inner thigh against each other
  4. Notice that the right hip is hiked up higher than the left, shortening the right waist; descend the right sitting bone towards the left heel
  5. Observe how the body compensates: the left thigh bows forward, and the left outer hip protrudes
  6. To correct, press the left thigh bone back and firm the left outer hip into the midline
  7. Keeping the pelvis squared to the wall you are facing, carefully draw the right knee back to deepen the external rotation in the hip
  8. Only draw the knee back to the extent you can keep the hips square
  9. Raise the arms without flaring the front ribs
  10. If able to keep the arms straight, reach up, touch palms and take the gaze to the thumbs 
  11. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths
  12. To exit, use an exhale to release back to Tadasana

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Tree Pose Cues

Contraindications and Cautions of Tree Pose

  • Particularly avoid putting your foot on your inner knee if you have any knee pain, knee injuries (especially knee ligament injuries), or knee arthritis. Instead, place your foot on your calf or inner thigh

  • If you have shoulder pain, numbness, tingling or shooting when you lift your arm, try keeping your hand on your hips

  • If you are at risk for fall, try pose modifications like holding onto a chair or wall

Benefits of Tree Pose

  • Improves balance
  • Lifted Leg: gently stretches your inner thigh and front of thigh (quadriceps) while strengthening your outer thigh and buttocks (gluteals)
  • Standing Leg: strengthens your thigh, buttocks (gluteals) and ankle
  • Stretches around your shoulders and lattisimus dorsi
  • Strengthens your core
  • Assists in calming and relaxing the mind to relieve anxious thoughts and feelings
  • Improves posture and counteracts the effects of sitting and computer work
  • Can help build confidence and empowerment
  • Can boost energy and fight fatigue
  • Improves postural and body awareness

See also 3 Ways to Safely Modify Tree Pose

3 Ways to Modify Tree Pose

1. Tree Pose on Calf

Chris Dougherty

Chris Dougherty

Try with your foot on your calf rather than inner thigh. Especially avoid putting your foot on your inner knee if you have any knee pain, arthritis, or injuries.

2. Tree pose with Kickstand

Chris Dougherty

Chris Dougherty

Try with your toes at the ground and your lifted foot pressed against your ankle into a kickstand. Your hands can be in any position, including together at heart center.

3. Tree Pose in Chair

Chris Dougherty

Chris Dougherty

Try this version seated in a chair. Bring one leg forward with the knee mostly straight. Bring the other knee out to the side, opening your hip. You can use a block under your lifted foot or simply bring that ankle to the opposite shin. Your arms can be raised into a big V shape. Hold for several breaths and then transition into the other side.

How to Partner or Assist in Tree Pose

If you are practicing Vrksasana with arms raised overhead, a partner can help you lift and lengthen your arms. First raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Have your partner stand behind you and press inward against your outer upper arms, then lift your outer arms toward the ceiling. At the same time, draw your inner arms downward, from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders.

Preparatory Poses for Tree Pose

Follow up poses for Tree pose

More Pose Detail

For more pose info, including anatomy illustrations and a sequence builder that allows you to create, save, share, and set playlists for safe and fun home practices or studio classes, get the new Yoga Journal app. Learn more are yogajournal.com/thepath.

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