Tree pose is probably one of the most well-known yoga postures, and for good reason. This pose not only helps to increase strength and flexibility, but also forces you to focus your concentration for long periods of time. No matter if you are a beginning or advanced yogi, there is some form of tree pose that is perfect for you.
Benefits of Tree Pose
One of the most important benefits of tree pose is an increase in core strength and balance. Increasing the strength of your core muscles, otherwise known as the abdominals, obliques, and muscles of the lower back, is not only important for the prevention of back pain, but also can provide an overall increase in your ability to balance your self, thereby preventing potential falls as you age. Falls among the elderly are one of the leading causes of death. Any form of exercise which can prevent against this tragedy is definitely very important. Tree pose has also been found to be beneficial in increasing flexibility in the quadriceps muscle. This is especially important for people who engage in high amounts of walking, biking or other forms of cardiovascular exercise.
Performing Tree Pose
Start by standing tall in the center of your yoga mat. Make sure that your feet are firmly planted on the ground below your body, with your toes facing forward. Take a few deep breaths. At the same time, carefully lift your right foot off the ground, and place the sole of the foot flush against the inside edge of your left calf, approximately halfway between your ankle and knee. Be sure to rotate your right hip so that your right knee is facing away from your body. When viewed head on, there should be a triangle of space formed between your straight left leg and your bent right leg. Reach both arms overhead, bringing your palms together. Lace all of your fingers together except for your index fingers, which should be pressed together and pointed towards the sky. Focus on a spot on the ground a few feet in front of your left foot in order to maintain your balance. Hold the pose for at least 20 seconds before switching to the other leg.
Alternative Versions of Tree Pose
The version of tree pose described above is the basic version of the pose. This can, however, be made easier by bringing only the heel of the right foot up to the ankle of the left foot, allowing the ball of your right foot to remain on the ground. Similarly, the pose can be made more challenging by bringing the right foot to rest on top of the left hip. Be sure that you have mastered the basic version of the exercise before attempting the more difficult pose. Doing so before you are ready can result in serious injury.