The Magic Of Tree Pose
It’s probably my favorite balancing pose of all time. Sure, it’s a beginner’s pose, no doubt. And I’ve been enjoying a regular yoga practice for twenty years now. So, I’m not really a beginner. I’ve mastered half moon pose (ardha chandrasana), dancer’s pose (natarajasana), warrior 3 (virabhadrasana), and a myriad of other balancing poses. And still, I find myself returning to beloved tree pose. That’s the cool thing about yoga. For the most advanced yogi, poses classified as beginner’s poses can still be beneficial, and even fun.
Ever done tree pose with your eyes closed? It’s no easy task!
In sanskrit, tree pose is known as vrksasana. Vriksha means “tree,” and of course asana means “pose.” Pronounced VRIK-shAH-sana, tree pose mimics the strong, steady, grounded nature of a tree. Unlike us humans, a tree is profoundly rooted to the Earth, and when we replicate a tree’s innate majesty, we too, can become grounded, rooted, strong and stable.
Benefits of Tree Pose
There are many reasons why tree pose is beneficial for our health and our yoga practice. Firstly, as most yoga poses do, tree pose stretches the body. It stretches the arms and shoulders (when you raise the arms above your head), and also the back, and thighs. Tree pose also stretches out the inner thigh and hip region. It’s even believed to help people who suffer from sciatica. Got flat feet? Work with tree pose daily.
Secondly, as most yoga poses are, tree pose is a strengthening one. It strengthens the legs, the back, core muscles, and even the ankles and feet. If you have plantar fasciitis, strengthening the soles of your feet is a very wise move. What’s more, strong legs help keep our backs safe and supported. So, in essence, tree pose is a pose that affects the whole body in a highly positive way.
Thirdly, tree pose cultivates balance, as well as coordination. This is especially important for us as we age. The more balance and coordination we have, the less likely we are to slip on a patch of ice in the winter, and if we do, we’re far more likely to catch ourselves in a way that saves us—(except perhaps for a big ol’ bruise on our bums like the one I got last February)— from doing any major harm. Having good balance can save us from broken bones, sprained ankles, and other typical maladies of human existence. No matter your age, tree pose is one asana to practice every day, as it can be modified for the beginning yogi who has very little practice standing on one foot.
Last but certainly not least, tree pose helps us improve our focus and concentration. Most balancing poses do, but tree pose is especially effective because it’s a pose that can be sustained by most able bodies for long periods of time. We all need to improve our ability to concentrate and focus in this day and age. We live in an age of distraction, where we’re constantly being bombarded with all sorts of opportunities to lose course as navigate the project at hand. That said, tree pose is the perfect yoga pose to combat the many distractions and interruptions of modern society.
Mental Slow Down
It’s amazing how one simple yoga posture can help quiet the fluctuations of our mental state. Try standing in tree pose for a minute and pay attention to how calm and quiet your mind becomes. It takes focus and concentration to keep the pose steady. In addition, tree pose naturally lends itself to drishti. Notice how your eyes want to focus on one thing when you get settled into tree pose. This one-pointed yogic eye gaze is known as a drishti. And the moment you settle into your drishti, your mind naturally slows down. So, if you’ve got a moment of monkey mindedness, simply head to your yoga mat and ease into tree pose. Witness your mind slow down as you hold your balance and root yourself into the earth.
Is it possible that tree pose fosters self-esteem and self-confidence? Absolutely! How? Well, just get into tree pose. Feel how much better your posture becomes. Feel how good it is to stand proud and tall, balancing like a majestic tree. When we hold our bodies in certain ways, it directly influences the way we feel, which is to say, really, really good when it comes to tree pose. This is probably the main reason this pose is near and dear to my heart. I feel truly self-confident and good about myself as I balance in this particular posture.
Whether you’re an advanced yogi or one who’s just getting started, tree pose holds the key to a treasure trove of benefits for your body, mind, and yoga practice. Have fun with it. Sway in the wind, and fall down when you must. Keep a light heart and be playful as you do. Tree pose is one of those poses you’ll come back to again and again.
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