Move of the Week: Tree Pose

May 16, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015
TREE POSE: Also known as Vrksasana. It is great to help develop balance, stronger feet, and ankles, and for relieving sciatica.  (Photos.com)
TREE POSE: Also known as Vrksasana. It is great to help develop balance, stronger feet, and ankles, and for relieving sciatica. (Photos.com)

Tree pose, otherwise known as Vrksasana (vrik-SHAHS-anna) is a great posture to help with balance while stimulating both the mind and the body.

A tree has strong roots, yet is pliable enough at its branches to withstand strong winds. Being able to bend and flow well, the tree will not crack or fall under the force of the wind. Like a tree, this posture requires strong roots (feet and ankles) while keeping the upper body long and fairly relaxed, not tense.

Before going into the tree pose, stand tall on both feet and focus inward. Imagine the bottoms of your feet rooting down toward the center of the earth. Be mindful of your foot placement. You want all four corners of your feet evenly pressing into the earth.
Find a focal point in front of you and focus on your postural alignment. Be sure to align your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and your hips over your ankles.

Draw your inner thighs toward each other to activate them. If you have trouble finding them, you may do this exercise with a yoga block between your legs.

Keeping your focal point, shift your weight to your right foot. Visualize light shoot down your inner thigh and hamstring and out the bottom of your right foot. You want to feel your inner thigh (which is part of your midline) activate as it did when you were holding the block or pulling your legs together. Be sure to keep your lower abdomen gently drawn inward and the crown of your head pulled upward.

Shift your weight back to both feet and take a moment to notice the difference between your legs. Repeat the balance on the left leg, and then back to center.

Now that you have warmed up your feet, ankles, and legs, you are ready for the pose.
Shift your weight to your right foot and reach down with your left hand. Take hold of your left ankle. Bring your left foot to your right inner thigh, as close to the groin as you can. Press your left foot into your right thigh, and your right thigh into your left foot. Bring your hands into a prayer position in front of your heart, keeping your focal point. Find your balance.