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Vrksasana (Tree Pose) teaches you to simultaneously press down and feel rooted as you reach tall like the branches of a mighty tree. In this pose, you find a sense of groundedness through the strength of your standing leg. Bringing the sole of your opposite foot to your shin or thigh challenges your balance. Continuously engage your ankles, legs, and core and notice what tiny movements your body might make to help you stay balanced.
By strengthening your legs, glutes, core, and back, Tree Pose can improve your posture and alignment, which is especially helpful if you sit throughout the day.
What makes this pose special is that it teaches you to explore your connection with your body. Maybe one day your lifted foot is positioned closer to your groin. Maybe another day, you leave your foot partially on the ground for balance. Be honest with your limits and learn to honor what your body needs on any given day.
Tree Pose basics
Sanskrit: Vrksasana (vrik-SHAHS-anna)
Pose type: Standing posture
Targets: Lower body
Why we love it: “A tidbit I picked up along the way and have often repeated is that stiffer trees are more likely to be felled in a storm; the trees that can bend in the wind are less prone to breaking. I love to remember this in Vrksasana,” says Sage Rountree, author and co-owner of Carolina Yoga Company. “A little sway from side to side is a sign of resilience and an opportunity to find equilibrium in the middle of shifting circumstance.”
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This standing posture can help improve your balance, as well as your postural and body awareness. In addition to its physical benefits, this pose can assist in calming and relaxing the mind—relieving anxious thoughts and feelings.
Tree Pose: Step-by-step instructions
- Stand in Tadasana. Spread your toes, press your feet into the mat and firm your leg muscles. Raise your front hip points toward your lower ribs to gently lift in your lower belly.
- Inhale deeply, lifting your chest, and exhale as you draw your shoulder blades down your back. Look straight ahead at a steady gazing spot.
- Place your hands on your hips and raise your right foot high onto your left thigh or shin. Avoid making contact with the knee.
- Press your right foot and left leg into each other.
- Check that your pelvis is level and squared to the front.
- When you feel steady, place your hands into Anjali Mudra at the heart or stretch your arms overhead like branches reaching into the sun.
- Hold for several breaths, then step back into Mountain Pose and repeat on the other side.
These cues will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:
- Place the foot anywhere along the inside of the standing leg except the knee. Pressing into the knee can destabilize the joint—and your pose.
- Imagine that your body is centered on an invisible plumb line dropping from the crown of your head, through the middle of your torso and pelvis, and straight into the ground beneath you. Remain centered around that plumb line even though you’re on only one leg. To do this, strengthen the trunk of the tree—your core—and firm your standing leg by hugging the muscles of your inner thigh in toward your midline.
- Feel free to use a wall or chair to steady yourself into position. Even lightly touching a hand on the wall or even standing near a wall gives you confidence in case you lose your balance.
Variation: Tree Pose with foot lower
Place your foot on your calf or keep your toes on the floor and place your heel just above the opposite ankle.