March Pose of the Month: Vrksana/Tree Pose

Growing From Earth to Sky in Vrksasana/Tree Pose

“Vrksa”= Tree / “Asana” = Pose
Pronounced: vrik-SHAH-sun-naa

Vrksasana is a staple of your favorite Basics class because it is accessible to yogis of varying skill levels. Tree Pose offers a glorious opportunity to feel both deeply rooted into the ground through the legs and feet and fully expansive and open to sky though the chest and arms. Once you’ve practiced climbing in and out of your Tree you can enjoy truly filling up your space between the Earth and the Heavens. We’ll walk you through the more recognized expression of the pose, and then you can play your way into variations to suit your practice.

BENEFITS:
~ Strenthens the ankles, the muscles of the foot, the thighs, and the lower leg
~ Opens the front of the hips and groin muscles
~ Improves balance in a way that is safe and approachable
~ Increases focus and concentration

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Place your drishti (focus point) on an unmoving point, preferably eye level or on the floor at a distance in front of you.
2. Choose which leg will be your Standing leg and which will be your Working (lifting) leg,
3. Gently shift your weight above your Standing Leg. (Think of stacking the weight high above the Standing leg to avoid dumping the weight into the hip.)
4. Firm the muscles in the Standing Leg as you lift the Working foot off the floor.
5. Externally rotate the Working hip so the knee opens gently to the side
6. Choose a place to rest your Working foot: at the ankle, the calf muscle, or above the knee. (Avoid pressing the foot directly into the inside of the Standing knee.)
7. Firmly press the Working foot into the Standing leg, and press the Standing leg into the Working foot. Create a balancing flow of gentle force toward the midline of the body.
8. Once you’ve sent your roots down into the ground, gently lift your branches (arms) to the sky. Hands may stay open or come together in Anjali Mudra overhead.

Trees sway in the breeze and yours will, too. Embrace the shifts as part of the experience.
Hold for 8-10 breath cycles, and exit the pose by placing the Working foot on the floor and resting the arms by your sides.

MODIFICATIONS:
~ To help create confidence in your balance, try practicing Vrksasana near the outer edge of the room with one hand or the knee lightly touching the wall.
~ Try resting the toes of the Working foot on the floor, placing the Working heel on the Standing ankle. That little ‘kickstand’ will offer you some balance support.

FUN ADDITIONS:
Once you feel confident with building and maintaining balance in the pose, play with variations in the arms (out wide, asymmetrical, Anjali Mudra at the heart, etc.) or adding a subtle backbend by lifting the heart upward.
This pose is perfect for creative, joyful expression; let your Inner Teacher guide you!

CONTRAINDICATIONS:
~ Low blood pressure, dizziness, headache
~ In cases of high blood pressure, practice the pose with arms by the sides or on the hips.