Yoga in a GIF-y: Vrksasana

I can say with almost 100% certainty that you’ve come across tree pose - whether it’s a friend posting a holiday photo on social media, your little niece learning to balance on one leg or a passé at a ballet performance.

Vrksasana, tree pose, is yet another staple in my classes as it always has something new to teach the students, starting with adjusting to the instability and uncertainty of the pose. It can provide tremendous psychological and emotional benefits by building confidence and teaching the student to let go a little.

From a physical aspect Vrksasana embodies the appearance of a tree - strong roots (legs), a tall trunk (spine) and long branches (arms). Energetically, it balances the grounding force of the straight leg with the uplifting quality of the extended arms.

Balancing isn’t your strong suit? The best thing you can do is let yourself fall :)

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Stand on a firm surface with your feet as wide as your hips.

  2. Shift the weight of your body onto your right foot and hug your left knee up into your chest.

  3. Notice if your right hip dropped out to the side and adjust your pelvis so that the left and right hip are aligned.

  4. Turn your left knee out to the left and grab your left ankle with the left hand.

  5. Draw the left sole of the foot up to the base of the right thigh. If the foot doesn’t make it up to the base of the thigh, feel free to lower the foot anywhere on your right leg except the knee!

  6. Press the left foot into the right leg and push evenly back with the right leg into the left foot.

  7. Bring your palms together in front of the heart.

  8. Gaze at an unmoving point on the floor in front of you to help steady the pose.

  9. On an inhalation lift your hands up to the ceiling keeping the hands as wide as your shoulders.

  10. Draw the shoulders down your back and spread them wide across the upper back. If you can maintain this while bringing your palms to touch overhead, go ahead.

  11. Stay for 5 breaths.

  12. On your last exhale hug the left knee back into the chest and step the foot on the floor.

  13. Repeat steps 2-12 on the opposite side.