Tree pose: Vrksasana

by | Jan 24, 2022

Tree pose-myles variation

Our pose of the month is tree pose! There are many variations of this pose but we want to highlight the Myles variation first, because it’s our favorite!

One of our favorite yogis (Vince), came up with this arm variation of tree pose by staying present with the memories of his deceased son Myles in his practice.  His arm placement symbolizes the way they traveled to racing events & just about everywhere! Learn more about dealing with grief & Myles incredible story on the Modern Yoga Podcast.

Tree Pose Challenge! We challenge you help raise awareness for special needs kids & of all the gifts Myles Ketterer left us.

  1. Take a photo of your version of Myles’s tree-pose variation
  2. Tag us on social media: #teammyles #modernyoga #modernyogacleveland #treepose
Vince & Myles

Tree pose, feel grounded in the flux.

Tree pose, Vrksasana in Sanskrit, is an asymmetrical standing pose that builds stability and balance as you learn to stand on one leg. You can be a very advanced student, yet, some days, it feels like you’ve never practiced this pose before (according to Joyce, this happens a lot during holiday seasons). Vrksasana belongs to the 32 asanas mentioned in the Gheranda Samhita, likely a late 17th-century classic Hatha yoga text. Like a robust oak, your standing foot symbolizes the roots through which you feel grounded as you reach tall, drawing the spine upward like its mighty trunk.

Chapter 2, verse 36 cites: – “Place the right foot at the top of the thigh and stand on the ground like a tree. This is called Vrksasana.” 

Tree pose teaches you to find groundedness even when you feel unstable; falling off teaches you not to take your practice too seriously.

Tree pose breakdown

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Tree's roots

The rooting leg and the different variations for the feet are the first under our magnifying glass.  

Stand on top of your mat with both feet pressing down. Spread your toes, and firm your leg muscles. Gradually shift the weight into your right foot and come on the ball of the left one. Turn the knee out to open the hip and rest the heel on the inside ankle of the standing leg: this is the first variation of tree pose. By removing part of your support, you begin to challenge your balance. 

If this feels stable enough or you are in the mood to take a leap, lift the foot and press it anywhere on the right inner leg. If you have been practicing yoga for a while, I’m sure you have heard at least one teacher saying not to place the foot on the knee. If you have arthritis or knee issues, I discourage you from resting your foot right on the joint. But if you have healthy knees and want to experience the thrill to go against the grain, have at it. If it doesn’t feel right, move your foot lower or higher on your leg.

A variation allows you to place the foot into a half-lotus position. Pay attention to the sensations in your knees to decide when to back down. You want to avoid suddenly tumbling onto the floor while in half lotus. 

If your foot is all way on the inner groin, notice what happens to the hips and try to keep them on the same height. A common misalignment occurs when the foot pushes the right leg out, and the opposite hip drops, creating unneeded asymmetry in the body. 

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The trunk

In tree pose, your arms can increase the challenge. Generally speaking, the higher you lift them, the harder it is to maintain balance. Tall trees with long, skinny twigs sway much more than bare trunks with boughs on stormy days.

When your arms are above your head, you’ll need to readjust the grounding foot to maintain the balance constantly. A slight sway from side to side is a manifestation of adaptation in the middle of shifting events.

If you struggle with balance, keep your hands on your hips or in a pray position. Reverse prayer (or its variations) is also an option for your arms that work on your shoulders. 

Pause as you settle into the pose, and soften if you are hardening anywhere. Maintain your body engaged but not rigid. 

Suzi - tree pose
Modern Yoga
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Challenging balance

Keep your attention inward, focussing on your incoming and outgoing breath, and rest the gaze forward. If you want to challenge the balance, lift your look towards the ceiling or close your eyes and see what happens.

Be proud of yourself when you make advancements in the pose, but recognize that the lasting progress happens when you fall, and instead of getting frustrated or angry at yourself, you realize you have a choice to feel differently.

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