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Pose of the Month: Vrksasana (Tree Pose)



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The name Vrksasana comes from the Sanskrit word vriksa or vriksha meaning "tree”. Vrksasana is both a balancing pose and, secondarily, a hip opener. It also contains elements of movement that ascend while others remain rooted into the ground.

In Tree Pose, it helps to imagine that your body is centered on an invisible plumb line dropping from the crown of your head, through the middle of your torso and pelvis, and straight into the ground beneath you. You want to remain centered around that plumb line even though you’re on only one leg. To do this, strengthen the trunk of the tree—your core—and firm your standing leg by hugging the muscles of your inner thigh in toward your midline. Your standing leg is like the roots of your tree, and your stable pelvis carries energy from your roots up into the spine and torso, creating a strong trunk. Your arms reach up and out like branches expanding into the sky.

In yoga, there is a principle called satya (the practice of truthfulness) that teaches yogis to think, speak and act in alignment with what is true. Because it’s a challenging balancing pose, Tree Pose offers an opportunity to practice this principle by aligning yourself with the truth in your own body.

Pose Type:
standing pose

Benefits:
• Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
• Stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders
• Improves sense of balance
• Improves concentration
• Relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet

Preparatory poses: butterfly; triangle pose; warrior II

Follow-up poses: standing poses

Tips:
• Work the pose from the ground up. Balance your weight evenly across your standing foot. Then, find balance and strength in the shin, calf, and thigh of your standing leg. Find alignment in your hips, tailbone, pelvis, and belly; and then in your collarbones, shoulder blades, arms, and neck.
• You can put a hand on a nearby wall or stand near a wall in case you lose your balance.
• Place your lifted foot lower on your standing leg. It’s fine to put your foot on your inner calf or even at your ankle, with your toes resting on the ground.
• Soften your face. If you are biting your lips or gripping your jaw, soften and let go.
• It’s OK to fall! This is the practice: try, fall, and try again. See whether you can keep trying without sinkinginto frustration. Try to have fun!

Variations:
• You can challenge your balance by practicing this pose with your eyes closed. Learn to balance without any reference to the outer environment.
• Stretch your arms straight up toward the ceiling, parallel to each other, palms facing, or touch the palms together forming an inverted V with the arms.

Cautions:
• Do not practice this pose if you have a recent or chronic knee or hip injury.
• Due to the balancing nature of this pose, do not practice Half Lotus Tree Pose if you are currentlyexperiencing headaches, insomnia, low blood pressure, or if you are lightheaded and/or dizzy.


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