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How to Find Mind-Body Balance with Yoga's Tree Pose

Many of Yoga’s teachings involve balance in life and energy, work and spirit, earth and sky; why not use them in your mind-body workouts? Balance asanas teach you to stand firmly on the ground while becoming empowered and strong so small winds cannot push you over.

There are many balances in Yoga, some of which require a lot of strength in muscles as well as spirit and mind. They are beautiful to experience. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana) isthe most common posture of the many available.

Feel as if you have roots that are extending into the ground below your feet. The taller and stronger you imagine yourself and the clearer you are in mind, the easier this is.

You of course strengthen your lower body, including your feet, ankles, and legs, but you also strengthen your torso, including your abs and back. Depending on how you use your arms, you also strengthen your arms and shoulders. Try The Tree during your posture-pacing or relaxation sections of your mind-body workouts.

  1. Start in Mountain Posture (Tadasana).

  2. Inhale, then exhale and slowly lift your left foot, toes down. Turn out the leg, then place the sole of the foot against the inside of your right leg where you are comfortable. When you first try this balance, your foot may be on the inside of your ankle, but your goal is to place it against your inner thigh between knee and groin.

    Never put pressure from your foot against your knee — always protect your knee joint.

  3. Fix your eyes on a point ahead of you. Lift tall through your chest and breathe.

  4. After you find your balance there, inhale, then on the exhale, raise your arms overhead, turning the palms in and place your palms together over your head.

  5. You are now a tree. Think rooted. Think tall. Think focused. Breathe.

  6. When you are ready, lower the foot, lower the arms — all slowly please! — and return to Mountain Posture.

  7. Repeat with the other foot.

    One side may be wobblier than the other. After you discover that weaker side, try forcing yourself to do the posture on that side first.

What to avoid:

  • Hiking up one hip or poking out one hip

  • Tensing your shoulders upward

  • Not breathing!

A beginner modification is to keep your hands at your sides or on your waist. Or you can try raising them to shoulder height. Or try this intermediate modification: Try to straighten your elbows while your arms are overhead and to pull your arms slightly behind your head.

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