Trees are pretty amazing. They are able to dig deep and still manage to stretch up to the sky. They develop deep roots systems while always growing and expanding into new territory. But they are only able to maintain those deep roots and continue to expand if they have balance. Even a strong Oak tree might fall if its balance falters.
Tree pose… Vriksasana, is a standard, relatively easy pose (key word being relative). It’s usually the first balance pose we learn in yoga because Tree pose teaches us the basics of what we need for most balance poses. And of all the balance poses I believe it teaches us the most about life.
So Lets discover our roots.
Begin in Mountain pose, put your right foot on the inside of your left thigh, toes pointing down, then bring hands to heart center or over head……that’s it. Go ahead give it a go……….. Well how’d you do? Did you waiver or wobble? Be honest, did you fall out of the pose? Often times in a class setting we aren’t able to really ‘teach’ a pose and balance pose especially have nuances that help you find balance. Its like telling someone “oh just stop _____ (fill in the blank), you can do it” or “hey just go do ______, you can do it”; without the tools, techniques or tips some people will struggle with balance poses.
So here are some tips & techniques to help you find your balance.
Find your ‘Drishti’. A Drishti is a single point of focus. The concept of Drishti is a whole post in it’s self, but in asana practise it usually refers to a gaze point. In Tree it might be the end of your nose or a spot on the wall or on the floor, or even your breath, try to let your drishti be a soft internal gaze, not a hard stare that creates tension in the body. It also helps to find the drishti before you move into the balance pose.
Engage & Energize your Bandhas….Pada Bandha, Mula Bandha & Uddiyana Bandhas are very active in tree pose. Begin by lifting through Pada & Mula Bandha and drawing in & up Uddiyana Bandha create core activation which helps to length the body ‘up’, as if with each breath you grow taller.
Be aware of your Breath. Your breath should be steady, soft and smooth. Ujjayi breath helps you to maintain stability and focus. If you begin to struggle with the pose it will effect your breath.
Tree pose teaches us many things, it teaches us physical balance, encourages body awareness and is a great strengthener for the feet and legs. From practicing Vriksana we learn to stand on our own, to always reach for the heights and sink our foundations deep, while at the same time being flexible enough to move and dance in the moment. We become strong like an Oak tree but flexible like the willow, moving through life able to adjust to changes with a calm mind and peaceful spirit.
But above all from balance poses we learn patience, we learn to let go frustrations and surrender to the moment, we come to understand that a balanced life comes from being stable, strong and resilient, no matter what the wind blows our way.
Advice from a Tree
By Ilan Shamir
Stand tall and proud
Sink your roots deeply into the earth
Reflect the light of your true nature
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The energy and birth of spring
The growth and contentment of summer
The wisdom to let go the leaves in the fall
The rest and quiet renewal of winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!