Five Benefits of Tree Pose
1st October 2019
Tree Pose, or Vrkasana in Sanskrit, is a foundational pose of yoga and often one of the first that a beginner learns. Although it looks relatively simple, and can be adapted to be suitable for almost anyone, it still delivers a wide range of benefits every time you practice.
Strengthens feet and legs
Tree pose works to strengthen all the muscles of the foot, ankle and legs. Although it’s a static pose, it still takes hundreds of micro-corrections within dozens of muscles to maintain your balance on one leg. Its stability is dependent on establishing a firm base, starting at the foot, so it particularly strengthens the soles of your feet which is helpful for issues like plantar fasciitis or fallen arches. Runners will also benefit from stronger feet, which can literally take a pounding from regular runs.
Improves core stability
Balancing, especially when on one side, demands a lot from the core muscles of the torso. As these muscles are activated, becoming stronger and more responsive, your day to day posture will improve. Stronger core muscles can also help relieve lower back pain.
Increases flexibility in hips
Taking the bent knee up and out to the side in Tree Pose benefits the pelvic area and opens the inner thigh. This increases blood circulation and flexibility around the hips, groin, and pelvis. Over time, this can help to relieve Sciatic pain.
Improves concentration and focus
In these days of constant distraction and interruption, Tree pose encourages us to maintain a one-pointed awareness. If we choose the right level of challenge for ourselves, the effort in balancing will fully occupy the mind. This ensures that we stay focused on the present moment rather than ruminating on the past or speculating on the future.
Calms the body and mind
This focus on the here and now, while being aware of the foot’s physical contact with the ground, helps establish a sense of connectedness to the earth. This is very calming for the nervous system and helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Try practicing Tree pose barefoot outside and you’ll feel the benefits even more.
How to practice Tree Pose
Starting in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), rest your gaze steadily on a point about 6 feet in front of you on the floor. Bring your hands into prayer position at your chest. Ground more deeply through your right foot, allow the left foot to become light. Bend the left knee out to the side and bring the sole of your foot to rest on inside of the right leg.
The foot can be positioned anywhere on the leg other than at the knee. Start at the ankle while keeping the ball of the foot on the floor for stability if needed. Then over time, as your balance improves, move gradually higher to the calf. Eventually, use your hand to bring the foot to the thigh or even heel into the groin. Keep your hips central over your feet. Hold for several deep breaths, keeping your gaze steady. When you’re ready, gently release the foot back down to the floor and repeat on the other side.