How To Do Tree Pose + 3 Variations To Try
Students taking beginner yoga classes are taught basic poses first to help them transition into more complicated backbends, inversions, and balancing postures. Among the most common of these starter poses is Tree Pose, which is a simple standing balance posture. Although all you're doing in Tree Pose is balancing on one leg, it can be tough at first and you may falter and stumble, but that's perfectly okay.
Like any other yoga pose, the Tree Pose might take you some time to master. But when you do, there are multiple variations to further challenge your ability to stay upright and balanced while stretching other areas of the body.
The key with Tree Pose is that you shouldn’t get discouraged or frustrated if you don't master it immediately. Some students must learn to calibrate their ability to balance the body in equilibrium, which can be tougher than expected. But as long as you work towards developing your balance, you'll find that Tree Pose gets easier every day.
How to Do Tree Pose
To begin your practice of Tree Pose, you must first start in Mountain Pose, positioning the hands in Anjali mudra towards the center of your heart. From there, follow these steps:
- Pause for a moment to root your feet into the floor. Be sure to keep your body weight evenly distributed among the four corners of both feet.
- Shift your weight to your right foot while bringing your left from the floor. Mind the position of your right leg at all times. Ensure that you are keeping it straight but do not lock the leg at the knee.
- Bend your left knee and place the bottom of your left foot against the inner thigh of your right leg.
- Press the foot and the thigh against one another, maintaining an equal application of pressure among both. Doing this will prevent the right hip from bowing out as you must keep the hips squared.
- Now is when you may feel your sense of balance start to waver slightly. Focus your eyes on a stationary spot ahead of you as this will help you maintain your sense of balance.
- Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then bring your left foot back to the floor.
- Repeat with the opposite foot.
The Benefits of Tree Pose
Practicing Tree Pose brings with it a full range of benefits that work towards more than just helping you maintain proper balance. There are many physical advantages to this pose as well.
For starters, Tree Pose can strengthen the legs and core, stretch the inner thighs, tone the groin muscles, and open up the hips. You can also strengthen the ankles and the spine by lengthening the spinal column. These are all important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and helping to maintain flexibility as we age. Balance is especially important as we get older, as it prevents injury from falling down. A fall can cause significant health problems in our Golden Years. The more you are able to control your sense of balance, the better off you will be later on.
Tree Pose is also a great way to improve your focus and concentration. Since this pose requires equal measures of both, routine practice will help to sharpen and hone these abilities.
Related: Benefits Of The Pigeon Pose
Tree Pose Variations
Once you are comfortable performing the basic version of Tree Pose, you can switch things up a bit and challenge yourself with variations that work towards providing more benefits.
Bending Tree Pose
This variation is good for increasing your balance, building strength, and toning the sides of your waist.
- Begin in Mountain Pose as you would normally do when practicing Tree pose.
- Shift your body weight to the right foot, holding the inside of the foot against the floor.
- Bend the left knee.
- Reach for your left ankle with your left hand, bring your foot up, and place the bottom of it against the inside of your right thigh.
- Now, lengthening the tailbone to the floor, inhale as you reach your arms above the head, keeping the elbows straight.
- Start to tip out at the left side, lowering your right arm until the back of your forearm is making contact with the knee.
- Push the opposite hip outwards so you can maintain proper balance. Just be careful you're not diminishing the position of your waist.
- Hold for five breaths, then bring yourself back to center.
- Repeat with the other side
Half-Lotus Tree Pose
This variation of the lotus pose helps work towards opening the hips more deeply by altering the position of the leg that is lifted from the floor.
- Start in Mountain Pose with both arms held at the sides.
- Shift your weight to the right foot and root it down firmly to the floor.
- Slowly bring your left knee up to the chest.
- Raise the left foot up, bringing the heel up as high as comfortably feasible to the right thigh or hip.
- Make sure the bottom of the foot is facing upward.
- Start to lower the left knee but refrain from doing so if you feel any pain or discomfort. If you can align the knee with your standing leg, go ahead and do so, but do not force it.
- Focus your eyes on a stationary spot ahead of you to help you maintain your sense of balance.
- Hold for one minute, breathing normally.
- Bring your left foot back to the floor.
- Repeat with the opposite foot.
Side Plank Pose – Tree Variant
If you're looking for a pose that will strengthen the obliques and the arms, try this Tree Pose variation of the Side Plank Pose.
- Begin with Downward-Dog. As you inhale move into Plank Pose keeping your shoulders above the wrists.
- Roll over to the right hand and outer right foot, with the left foot positioned on top of the right.
- Looking down at your feet, make sure the legs are held straight as you would while in Tadasana.
- Next, bring your top leg up as high as you are able, and then rotate it away from the hip.
- Place the bottom of the left foot against the upper part of the inside of your right thigh like you would normally do during Tree Pose.
- Bring up your left arm and look up.
- Secure the right leg and bring the right shoulder blade back and down, employing your rhomboids to bring the chest open.
- Push the top hip open while lengthening the spine. Do not allow it to bend or arch to an extreme degree.
- Hold the pose for 10 breaths and bring it back to Downward-dog.
- Repeat on the other side.
Use Your Best Judgement
Tree Pose is a posture that relies heavily on balance. So it is advised that you do not try to perform the pose if you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded, suffering from headaches, or experiencing symptoms of insomnia or low blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, do not bring your arms over your head when holding Tree Pose.
There are many alternative Standing Poses if you feel that Tree Pose will be too difficult for you to comfortably practice.
Want to learn about more great yoga poses? Be sure to visit the Yoga Society Poses Blog.