Updated: Dec 6, 2021
I love balancing poses, especially when my mind is swirling with thoughts, because one has to focus and be present to avoid falling down. The emphasis on staying connected to the earth to maintain balance encourages the importance of grounding and establishing roots. Tree pose or vrksasana is one of my favorites because there are so many different variations that can be practiced. And while your tree pose may differ from someone else’s, it’s unique to you, just like every tree in nature has its own unique qualities. Here are a few standing variations you can practice on your own, and don’t forget to smile instead of frown if you start to feel a little unstable -- it’s just a tree pose : )
Begin by standing in mountain pose with your feet parallel to one another about hips' distance or wider if that offers greater stability and comfort. Feel free to stand near a wall, chair or countertop for support. Place your hands on your hips to start. Find something to look at on the ground or directly in front of you that is not moving. This is called a drishti which means sight or vision in Sanskrit and can help you maintain balance.
Press down through the foot of the leg you will be standing on, establishing your roots. Lift the heel of the other foot. Bend that knee and open it out to the side. You can keep your toes connected to the ground or explore lifting the sole of your foot to either the inner calf of the standing leg or the upper inner thigh. Avoid shifting the hip of your standing leg out to the side. Try to keep it aligned over your ankle.
Feel free to play with different arm variations by placing your palms to touch at the center of your chest, extending your arms over head, or bending your elbows making the shape of a cactus or goal post. You can even sway your arms a little from side to side, like a tree blowing in the wind, to practice balancing while in motion.
Hold tree for several breaths. If you fall out of the pose you can always try again. When you feel ready, lower your bent leg. Shake out your body a bit, then practice Tree standing on the other leg. Note that balance can differ quite a bit on each side, so don’t worry if you are more wobbly
on standing on one leg than the other, there's nothing wrong with you!