The Tree Pose, also known as Vrksasana, is a fundamental and elegant yoga pose that demands balance, focus, and a strong connection with the earth. It is a standing pose that is often used in various styles of yoga, including Hatha and Vinyasa, and is typically introduced early in a yoga practice due to its accessibility and numerous benefits.
The pose begins from a standing position, with one foot firmly planted on the ground while the other foot is placed on the inner thigh, calf, or ankle of the standing leg. The hands are typically brought together at the heart in prayer position, or extended upwards towards the sky, resembling the branches of a tree.
Practicing the Tree Pose under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor is highly recommended, especially for beginners. This pose requires proper alignment and balance to prevent injury and to fully reap its benefits, which include improved posture, increased leg strength, and enhanced concentration. The Tree Pose is not just a physical exercise, but also a mental one, as it encourages mindfulness and inner peace.
|Sanskrit Name and Pronunciation||Vrksasana (vrik-SHAH-suh-nuh)|
|Pose Type||Standing, Balancing|
How to Do the Tree Pose
- Start in a Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet hip distance apart and your hands by your sides.
- Shift your weight onto your left foot and bend your right knee.
- Reach down with your right hand and grab your right ankle. Place the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh. If this is too difficult, you can place your foot against your calf instead, but avoid placing it directly on your knee.
- Press your right foot into your left thigh and your left thigh back into your foot to help maintain balance.
- Bring your hands together in a prayer position at your chest. If you feel stable, extend your arms up towards the sky, keeping your palms together or shoulder width apart.
- Focus your gaze on a fixed point in front of you to help maintain balance.
- Hold the pose for a few breaths, then slowly lower your right foot back to the ground and return to Mountain Pose.
- Take a few deep breaths in this position before repeating the pose on the left leg.
|Upper Body:||Deltoids, Rotator Cuffs, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major, Biceps, Triceps|
|Core:||Rectus Abdominis, Obliques, Transverse Abdominis|
|Back:||Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids|
|Glutes:||Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus|
|Legs:||Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Adductors, Gastrocnemius, Soleus|
While there are many research-backed mental and physical benefits of yoga, there are few — if any — official studies on the tree pose. However, it’s generally believed that practicing the tree pose provides several health benefits.
The Tree pose requires balancing on one foot, which can help improve balance and stability over time. This can be particularly beneficial for older adults or those recovering from injuries.
Strengthens Lower Body
The Tree pose requires a significant amount of lower body strength to hold the pose. Practicing this pose can help build strength in the legs, ankles, and feet.
Promotes Better Posture
The Tree pose encourages proper alignment and posture. By standing tall and straight, you can help improve your overall posture and reduce the risk of back pain.
Opens the Hips
The Tree pose involves externally rotating the hip of the lifted leg, which can help open the hips and increase flexibility in this area.
Promotes Relaxation and Focus
The Tree pose requires focus and concentration to maintain balance, which can help calm the mind and promote relaxation. Additionally, it can help improve focus and concentration in other areas of life.
Drawbacks and Risks
Practicing the Tree Pose also comes with its own set of potential risks and drawbacks, which include potential injuries to the:
Ankles. The Tree Pose requires balancing on one foot, which can put a strain on the ankle joint. If the ankle is not strong enough or not aligned properly, there is a risk of injury to the muscles and ligaments in the ankle.
Knees. The Tree Pose involves placing the foot of the other leg on the inner thigh or calf of the standing leg. If the knee of the standing leg is not aligned properly, there is a risk of strain or injury to the knee joint.
Hips. The Tree Pose requires opening up the hip of the lifted leg. If the hip is not opened properly or is forced too much, there is a risk of injury to the hip joint or the muscles surrounding it.
Lower Back. The Tree Pose requires maintaining a straight spine. If the lower back is not engaged properly, there is a risk of straining the lower back muscles.
Wrists. If the hands are brought together in a prayer position at the heart or extended overhead, there is a risk of straining the wrist joints if they are not aligned properly.
If you experience discomfort or pain while practicing this pose, stop immediately, modify it, or come out of it. It’s also important to warm up properly before attempting this pose and gradually build up to its full expression.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when practicing the Tree Pose.
- Not Warming Up. Just like with any other yoga pose, it’s crucial to warm up before attempting the Tree Pose. This can include yoga practices such as sun salutations, cat-cow stretches, and other poses that help warm the hips, legs, and core muscles.
- Locking the Knee. When standing on one leg in the Tree Pose, it’s important not to lock the knee of the standing leg. This can put unnecessary strain on the knee joint. Instead, keep a slight bend in the knee to maintain stability and protect the joint.
- Placing the Foot on the Knee. The foot of the lifted leg should be placed either above or below the knee of the standing leg, not directly on the knee. Placing the foot on the knee can put lateral pressure on the knee joint, which can lead to injury.
- Not Engaging the Core. The Tree Pose is a balance pose, and engaging the core is key to maintaining balance. If the core is not engaged, it can be difficult to maintain the pose and can lead to instability and potential falls.
- Ignoring the Breath. Breathing is a crucial part of yoga, and forgetting to breathe deeply and steadily during the Tree Pose can make it more difficult to maintain balance and focus. It’s important to maintain a steady breath throughout the pose.
- Not Using Props. If you’re new to the Tree Pose or have balance issues, it can be helpful to use props such as a wall or a chair for support. This can help you find proper alignment and stability in the pose.
Modifications and Variations
If you’re new to the Tree Pose or have limited flexibility or strength, several modifications can help you build up to the full expression of the pose. Here are some modifications to try:
If you’re having trouble balancing on one foot or reaching your foot to your inner thigh, you can use props such as blocks or a wall to support your body and help you find proper alignment. Place the block under your hand for support or use the wall for balance.
Practice with a Chair
You can try practicing with a chair if you have trouble balancing in the Tree Pose. Stand behind the chair and hold onto the back of it. Lift one foot and place it on the inside of your standing leg, either at your ankle, calf, or thigh. This modification can help you build strength and stability in the pose.
Practice with a Wall
If you’re having trouble finding balance in the Tree Pose, try practicing with a wall for support. Stand with your back against the wall and lift one foot, placing it on the inside of your standing leg. This modification can help you find stability and build confidence in the pose.
Practice the Mountain Pose
This pose can help stretch and strengthen the leg muscles, preparing you for the Tree Pose. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Engage your core, tuck your tailbone under, and roll your shoulders back. This pose can help you find the balance and strength needed for the Tree Pose.
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.