Does your tree (vrksasana) blow in the wind? Do you have trouble balancing on one foot? Someone asked me today in a lunchtime class for some tips on how to stay balanced in the tree pose and I said I’d post those tips online. So here you go…
There are a number of things that can help stabilize your tree pose. The first thing to do is to relax, and let go of any expectations you may have of yourself in this pose. Know that however you do it will be fine.
Start with tadasana, mountain pose. Your tree is basically the same as mountain, but on one foot. So you want to make sure your standing foot has lots of contact with the floor and that you’re aware of where that foot is touching the ground and press more into those places. Ground yourself, go up on the toes and back onto the heels like we do when we’re getting ready for mountain pose.
Sometimes it’s helpful to visualize roots growing into the earth. For some people using techniques like imagining the pose extending beyond the body is really helpful.
Focus your gaze. Pick a spot to look at and don’t move your eyes around. If you move your eyes and start looking around the room, you’ll get distracted and balancing will be difficult.
Use ujjayi breathing. That’s the breath we learn at the beginning of the beginner’s class where you make a sound like you’re fogging up a mirror. It helps us to concentrate and focus. Plus it makes a sound that keeps our awareness in the room so we are more present. The tree is difficult to do if we’re distracted…
Press your foot into your leg and at the same time press your leg into your foot. Many people feel the foot starting to slide down the leg in tree pose. If you press your leg into your foot, it helps to keep you steady and to keep your pants on!
Press your hands together. In the preliminary pose before extending the arms up overhead, keep your palms together and press them in to each other. You’ll create the feeling of pressing and lifting up higher.
Use moola bandha. That’s the lift of the pelvic floor muscles, like if you have to pee but you’ll have to wait a bit. So “hold your pee” but don’t hold your breath.
Use udiyana bandha. That’s the energy lock where you bring your belly button in towards your back. So you’re engaging your core. But again, don’t hold your breath! I often won’t teach bandhas to beginners because the temptation to hold the breath is so strong when you’re using the bandhas.
I hope those tips are helpful and staying steady in the tree. The next phase is to close your eyes. Doing the pose with the eyes closed is a whole new thing. The main thing that will help you in that pose will be to take your awareness out of your head and put it into your foot or your belly button. Leaving the awareness in the head makes this pose very difficult. So get out of your head and into your body!