The Tree pose has a number of benefits and it is a slightly neglected asana.
There is a lot of grace in the pose.
Standing on one leg helps to improve balance, strengthens the ankles, legs and the muscles which stabilize the hips.
Being in this pose gives a good indication of ones mental state on the day. Of course trees move / sway a bit and as there are many types of trees – so we all do a slightly different version of the tree pose.
To avoid injury in Iyengar style yoga we pay a lot of attention to safely going in and out of the poses (and graciously possible).
For beginners I recommend practicing the pose against a wall or preferable in a corner as per the photo below (the photo was taken in the Bungle Bungles National Park hence the shoes).
Tree Pose with wall
- Stand tall in Tadasana (mountain pose), with your back against the wall, big toe bases touching, heels are either together or slightly apart, feel that you have equal weight in both feet, raise your toes, extend the toes and place them back onto the floor;
- Quietly transfer the weight to the left leg, without pushing the left hip out ;
- Bend the right knee so the right heel lifts off the floor, come up on your toes;
- Turn the right knee out (work from your right hip);
- Slowly bring the right foot up (help with your right hand) and allow the right knee to rest on the wall in front of you. Variations are: if you do not feel stable keep your toes on the floor, if you are more confident bring the right foot either to the inside of your left calf or higher up to the inner thigh. Be careful – do not push on your left knee, have the foot either below or above the left knee;
- Keep the standing leg strong, pull up the knee cap and the quadriceps and work the inner leg. If you do not work your inner leg the right foot will slide off – so we cannot really blame the fabric of our pants!
- Keep your chest, hips and face in one direction (i.e forward);
- Keep your chin parallel to the floor, throat soft, look with soft gaze in front of you – eye level or slightly above
- Bring your hands in together in front of you in Namaste or more experienced yogis bring your hands above your head, resting the heels of the hands on the crown of your head;
- Stay in the pose for a minute on so (on each side);
- Coming out of the pose: release the arms and slowly release the right leg back to the floor;
- Find your balance by standing in Tadasana for to-three cycles of your breath;
- Turn around and REPEAT on the other side.
Once you mastered the Tree pose against the wall try it free standing, facing the wall. Stand close enough to wall so your fingertips can touch it. Only take your hands off the wall if your balance is good on the day.
I recommend to practice this pose regularly (daily).
Keeping the balance over 50 is an essential part of ageing gracefully!