Dissecting: Tree Pose

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The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind.
— Rodney Yee

A few years back, we visited Muir Woods, a redwood forest located just outside of San Francisco.  It was our first taste of the west coast and what ultimately instilled in us a sense of adventure.  Up until then, I never had a desire to hike or explore in nature. I was just as content going to a major city and touring museums, bookstores and restaurants.  But Muir Woods changed all of that.  Seeing the enormous redwood trees that appeared to reach up past the clouds was impressive. Some of them were battered and bruised, a product of environmental damage, but all stood tall and regal, with a sense of confidence and certainty.  As if they knew they were on display for the world to admire. 

This spirit of grace and strength is what I try to evoke each time I get into one of my favorite yoga poses: Tree. Just like its namesake implies, this pose requires you to be rooted and grounded.  You must use your complete body to help you stand as tall and regal as those redwood trees.  You have to quiet the storms brewing in your head to concentrate and focus. But once it clicks, and you feel the connection with your mind and body, this pose is addicting.  I sometimes do it while brushing my teeth or cooking dinner because it instantly puts my mind at ease. Just try thinking of your grocery list or paying a bill when you are in this pose.  You will quickly fall out of it.

Here are my tips for getting you into a beautiful Tree Pose.

  • Begin standing tall with feet hip width apart.
  • Fix your eyes on something in front of you that’s not moving. This will help with concentration and balance once you are fully in the pose.
  • Starting with your left foot, lift your toes up and spread them wide, plant your foot down paying attention to all four corners of the foot. 
  • Bring your hands to your waist and swing your right leg back and forth until you feel all of the weight on your left leg.
  • Slowly place your right foot in one of three places:  heel to ankle, heel below knee or heel pressed into the side of your left thigh. (Please do not place your heel on your knee to avoid possible injury.)   
  • Tilt your hips forward and tuck in your belly.
  • Keep your hips even (shoulders stacked over hips). Try not to tilt your body to the side.
  • Bring your palms together in prayer low on your chest.
  • Once you feel balanced, raise your hands above your head.
  • Stay here for 5 breaths, inhaling through your nose, exhaling through your nose.

What's your favorite yoga pose? OM the moment for your body this week and practice Tree pose whenever you want to clear your mind or feel you need a little more balance in your day. Invoke the spirit of the redwood trees by standing tall with confidence, strength and grace.

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