Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Writing: Chrisandra Fox

Photography: Faern

 

{PLEASE NOTE: originally posted Posted on October 1, 2009 here: http://faern-in-the-works.com/2009/10/01/vrksasana-tree-pose/ }

Stand straight on one leg (the left), bending the right leg, and placing the right foot on the root of the left thigh; standing thus like a tree on the ground, is called the Tree posture.
Gheranda Samhita: II.36

With strong and subtle roots moving towards earth, and energy that rises towards the heavens, vrksasana teaches us how to ground through our center, while being receptive to currents of expansion and growth. Tree pose asks us to stay connected to our breath in each moment of uncertainty, and to maintain steady focus as we fan our inner fire with just the right amount of effort. With too little attention given to form, our tree will be lazy and limp; with too much effort, our tree will collapse. Vrksasana is a practice – and a celebration – in striking a balance between effort and surrender.

For thousands of years in India, spiritual aspirants have made a practice of Eka pada sthana – standing on one leg – for extended periods of time. Considered an austerity, or tapas, this type of practice stokes the inner fire and desire of the individual whose longing is to merge with the divine in the journey of self-realization.

In modern times, Tree pose is often practiced in shorter bursts, with a sense of celebration and surrender, as we consciously internalize our awareness and unfold the stillness within, connecting to our roots, and riding the prana-filled waves of possibility that expand our bodies and our consciousness.

Preparation
Stand in Tadasana, (Mountain Pose). Bring your hands together, interlace your fingers and as you inhale, turn your palms to the sky, raise your arms over head and lift your heels off the floor. Stand on the metatarsals, lifting firmly through your inner heels. Press through the center of your palms with arms stretched towards the sky. Allow the tops of your shoulders to soften as your shoulder blades root on your back ribs. Keep your heels lifted and as you breathe, lengthen your belly. On an exhalation, sweep your arms out to the sides, slowly lowering your heels to the ground. Return to Tadasana.

The Pose
Standing in Tadasana, turn the right thigh out, lifting your heel off the floor, so your weight rests on the bases of your toes. Bend your right knee and take hold of your ankle with your right hand. Place the heel of your foot high up on your inner left thigh, close to the groin. Spread your right toes and point them towards the ground.

Press your palms together at your heart in Anjali mudra (Prayer Pose). On an inhalation, lift your arms towards the sky. You can maintain Anjali mudra, or separate your hands shoulder’s width apart. Spread your fingers, and gently turn your hands towards the backside of your body, to encourage an outward rotation in your upper arms.

The Work
The work of Tree, as in all the poses, is holding a mental space of concentration, while spreading awareness throughout your body. Witness the subtle elements in your breath and your body, responding so that the posture “grows” from the inside out.

Maintain an even spread across the bases of all your toes. You’ll feel your center of balance steady as you lengthen through your inner ankles and ground your heel bones.

Draw your left thighbone back into your hamstrings, so your pelvis is held in its upright position. Lift and lengthen your inner left thigh wall towards your pelvis as you soften your upper buttocks flesh. Feel the release of your tailbone towards your inner left heel. Take your right thigh back, in its outward spiral, so you feel the length from your inner right groin towards your knee.

Tree pose is a living, breathing moment of being in the center of all possibilities. Tone your navel to your spine and gently lift your lower belly in and up towards the center of your ribcage to open the gateway to stability as you lengthen through your trunk. Soften your front ribs to balance this action. Feel your shoulder tops soften as you root the reach of your branches from the bottom tips of your shoulder blades.

Look
Turn your gaze towards the tip of your nose, to steady your mind. As your steadiness grows, lift your gaze to the horizon line, challenging yourself to look with clear, open, receptive eyes. As you like, lift your chin towards the sky, drawing back through the crown of your head, without collapsing the base of your skull on your upper spine. Maintaining awareness in the roots of your standing leg, gently close your eyes. Breathe. Feel and witness each breath as you root, as you grow.

Play
Oh so many trees! You can work with your hands in Anjali mudra at the heart or with arms raised overhead, and with hands spread apart. This variation, pictured above, increases coordination and brings a graceful, feminine quality to your tree:

Stand in Vrksasana, bring your arms out to the sides, to the height of the shoulders. While standing on your left leg, raise your left arm up and arc it alongside your head, as you lower your right arm towards your bent knee. Bring your forefinger and thumb together in Jnana mudra, and continue to reach through your arms as though you are holding a ball between them. Lengthen through the sides of your waist as you arch your spine to the right. Keep steadiness through your left leg. Breathe. Root. Flourish.

Trees stand alone and in a forest, a family, and a community of trees. Balancing the gifts of heaven and earth, trees are nourished by their surroundings, and, in turn, nourish all who come to sit in their presence. Practice vrksasana, and celebrate these moments of inner strength, connection, and serenity.

 

Chrisandra Fox teaches weekly classes at Yoga Tree, Yoga Garden and leads The Heart of Renewal Retreats in California and beyond. She teaches in Yoga Tree’s 200-hour Teacher Training.

Chrisandra@gmail.com

Faern is a mixed media artist, photographer and yoga practitioner in San Francisco. Visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.

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