This Month I will break down the classic one-leg balancing pose, the Tree Pose (Vrikshasana). Spoiler: It is more about balancing the mind than the body.
Here are a few general tips regarding standing on one leg
👉 Observe the standing foot as weight moves from side to side or front to back, or a combination of a few direction simultaneously. Try to still the mind a bit and let all mental resources be directed towards sustaining an effective reflex that maintains balance. Let the body's autonomic intelligence do what it does.
👉 Try to keep attention one-pointed. Choose an object such as the standing foot, the breath, the top of the head, or anything else, and keep the mind fixed on that object.
👉 Press the standing foot down a bit and try to feel the rebound going back up. Allow for energy and space to move upwards to whatever body part that is closest to the sky at that moment.
👉 Use the breath. Try to keep the rhythm of breath steady, see if keeping an even length of inhale and exhale helps (if not, try to extend the exhales). Use the breath to keep the mind calm and centered so that the nervous system can be in a more balanced state.
👉 Fix your gaze toward one point, preferably one that is not moving. Keep the eyes relaxed and the gaze soft.
Balancing in yoga does not mean that we assume a perfectly still position, it is actually a process of rediscovery, again and again, of an imaginary central axis moving through body.
Variations of Tree Pose
⭐ Easy variation: foot against lower leg, hands together in Anjali Mudra, eyes fixed downward.
⭐ Easy plus variation: foot against inner thigh, hands together in Anjali Mudra, eyes fixed forward.
⭐ Intermediate variation: foot against inner thigh, hands up in any position (V shape, parallel, palms together, etc..), eyes fixed forward.
⭐ Intermediate plus variation: foot against inner thigh, hands up in any position (V shape, parallel, palms together, etc..), eyes fixed upward.
⭐ Advanced variation: foot against inner thigh, hands up in any position (V shape, parallel, palms together, etc..), eyes closed.
⭐ Alternative variation: "tree in the wind"
One hand resting on the inner thigh of bent leg, the other hand reaching over the head for a side stretch.
Here are the steps we can take in order to get into the Tree Pose:
Important side note!
Balancing on one leg is a dynamic process, some days we feel more stable and at other days we feel out of balance. Try and use the Tree Pose (as well as other standing balance poses) as a way to discover what is going on within on all levels.