Vriksasana, or Tree Pose
To take Vriksasana, begin in Mountain Pose, or Tadasana. Bring your weight to your right leg. Bend the left, and come up onto the toe. Drag that foot over so that the sole is resting against the ankle and lower calf of the opposite leg. Consider staying here for a moment while you stretch your back and drop your shoulders down into their sockets. You can then try this much of the pose on the other leg.
When you are ready to move on, slide the perpendicular foot up the standing leg. Be sure not to press into the sensitive knee joint area; if you can’t bring the foot up onto the inside of the thigh, allow it to rest on the calf. Straighten your back and drop your shoulders as before. Again, this might be an ideal final pose for you on any particular day. If you choose to work here, make sure to practice on both legs.
A further development: perhaps your tree grows branches. Bring your arms up so that your fingers become the ‘leaves.’ Your arms may be bent like a gridiron goalpost, or they may reach up alongside your ears. Don’t let them pull the shoulders up out of their sockets. From here, practice keeping the body in good posture while you hold the balance. Repeat on the other side.
Another way to practice Tree Pose is to allow your back to rest against a wall while you work on the various posture cues. This shows your body how to hold itself and allows you to practice that much of the pose. After some time at the wall, try the pose away from the wall, bringing balance into the equation.
Vriksasana is a great pose to attempt whenever you’re feeling difficult emotions and need to re-establish steadiness and poise. It’s literally impossible to focus on anger or grief and keep your physical balance; working on the pose will give you a break from these de-stabilizing emotions. You will need to express them eventually, but it’s helpful to use this posture before giving a presentation at work, say, or anytime you need to temporarily step away from an emotional response. Practice it often, and you’ll find it easier to move in ways - both physical and mental - that require balance and support.
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