Tree pose aka Vriksasana or Vrksasana, it is one of the poses where I can morph into the pose’s name. it is also a pose that can test you and ground you.
Tree pose as the barometer or thermometer for grounding
Grounding is something that I used to have difficulty with when going through bigger life changes. Those are the times that I wanted to be detached from the earth. The changes themselves could be ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ or simply ‘neutral’ (although usually, emotions are more intense when we experience change) the only requirement was that they were changes. When practising tree post, it acts as an indicator of how detached or grounded from the earth I am in that moment.
When I was a child there was a family who lived across the street, the Ziellas. Mr and Mrs Ziella’s daughter Wendy was one of the oldest ‘children’ on the block. Wendy was probably more than 15 years older than me, so she wasn’t really a child at all. She used to hug a tree in front of her house and upon seeing her do this, I wanted to know more. She taught me how to hug a tree. Now, living in a city, I don’t do it enough….in fact, I almost never hug a tree. I touch trees and bushes as I pass them but I haven’t hugged one since the last time that I visited Glastonbury in 2010 I think. I need to hug a tree, in the meantime, I will continue to practice tree pose.
Challenges & Cautions
Now I don’t know about you but my feet are a bit rough around the edges, like leather but not leather that has a pull or grip, more like glove leather – smooth. So when practising tree pose, if my yoga pants are full length, my difficulty can sometimes be keeping the sole of my foot on my upper inner thigh – even when pressing inward – give me shorts for access to skin and no problem. Then my only difficulty sometimes is falling over because I’m either detached from the earth that day or simply tired. Sometimes though, whether my foot is below or above my knee, I stand tall focused and I become the tree.
The main caution that instructors remind us to never directly place your foot in the ‘knee zone’ in order to avoid an accidental injury. Instead, when coming into tree pose place your foot above or below the knee and then press the sole of your foot into your inner thigh, no gripping of your toes on either foot. Finding the drishti or focal point to focus on or to challenge our balance as we look towards the sky or ceiling 🙂
Mythology and the Queen
Beyond the obvious physical benefits of tree pose ranging from increased balance, poise and better posture & concentration, there is a mythology around it that includes Queen Sita and her trials and tribulations.
Sita was exiled to the forest twice during her life, once abducted by Ravana and rescued and the second time abandoned by her husband Sri Ramachandra. She, as the daughter of the Bhumi Devi—the Earth itself felt rooted and one with it. In trying to overcome torment she stood beneath the trees breathing and focusing on a dhristi point. This story tells us of Sita as the symbol of patience, standing firm in times of change, and growing from within, the trees stood with her until finally one day Rama sent Hanuman to find her.
With many of the mythological stories, there are varying accounts of who killed who, who rescued who and what actually happened. Whatever happened doesn’t impact the key point which is that the trees sheltered and stood with Sita as she stayed beneath them chanting and breathing as she endured hardships.
Here is my tree pose infographic to help us learn together.
Do you have any insights or stories to tell about tree pose or grounding or hugging trees? Share them in the comments below or request a specific pose that you want to know more about. We now have various commenting options for people who prefer to comment with Facebook, Disqus or just directly on our site.
The infographic in this post is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0), you are free to use them even commercially. Any questions contact us.
Related yoga information:
A lot of people write about how yoga has transformed their lives and it is a practice that can change your life. Sometime in the future, I’ll get to writing about that experience. The healing it provided or should I say provides regularly has inspired me to share what I’m learning.