Tree Pose comes at the end of the standing series, when you have been working hard, moving swiftly from posture to posture with focus and determination. The finish line is in sight, but don’t take your foot off the gas. Tree is a quietly powerful pose, and you want to gain every benefit you can from it, so pay attention to all the alignment details, and keep breathing. Your heart and respiration rate will begin to come down, and Savasana is just around the corner!
Tips from the podium:
Begin with a well-aligned body. Hips in line with the front mirror, spine straight.
All balancing postures benefit from a single point of focus. You might need to move your eyes around a little to check your alignment, but return to that single point, whether it’s your own eyes, your forehead, or another spot.
Bring your foot up as high as you can on your opposite hip. You can use both of your hands/arms to do this, and your knee can be lifted up and way out in front of you.
Let your knee come down and back slowly. If your foot starts to slide down your thigh or off to the outside of your thigh, that’s where you stop. Hold your foot at your hip with your arm and hand strength. Class by class, your hips will begin to open, and your knee will eventually drop down.
Contract your standing leg thigh.
Stretch up through the crown of your head to lengthen your spine.
Keep your shoulders even with the floor and your hips even with the floor and the front mirror. From the waist up, it should look like you’re standing on two legs.
Beware the duck butt! Sometimes there is a tendency to push the hips back and arch the lower back in an effort to get the knee down more and/or hold the foot in place to get two hands up. Pull your stomach in, gently squeeze your glutes, and push your hips slightly forward.
Hands are the cherry on top. It does feel like a victory to bring two hands up in full namaskar, but if you sacrifice your alignment (foot sliding down, hips pushing back) to get there, it’s really not doing any good. As always, alignment over depth.
Balance and breathe.
- Improves balance and posture
- Increases flexibility of ankles, knees, and hips
- Strengthens quadriceps, abdominal, and erector spinae muscles.
- Recenters body and mind.
–Ellen Olson-Brown, The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford