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, for me, it acts as an indicator of how detached or grounded from the earth I am in that moment.
It can bring you back to earth as one of the grounding yoga poses we are taught.
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. When I went away to summer camp as a young girl, spending time in the forest I continued to hug trees.
Now, as an older person 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 January 2018 when I visited the Redwood Forests in Northern California. I [still] need to hug a tree or trees more regularly, 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 🙂
Tree pose benefits:
balance, posture, concentration, increases the range of motion in the hips, deepens the chest cavity (thorax), strengthens the ankles, tones the muscles of the legs, back and chest