If you have difficulty with balancing in tree pose, you can try shifting your weight forwards so that your toes press down into the floor. You can then use your toes to help you balance.
Prior to leaning forward, you may have to activate your foot so that the bones of your foot and ankle support each other.
Once you have stabilized your ankle you may then find it easier to use your toes to help you balance.
In Tree Pose (Vrksasana) you stand on one foot with the other foot resting high up on the inner thigh of your standing leg.
So that you open the hip of your lifted leg, press your foot into your inner thigh. Activate your foot and press the inner thigh with both your heel and forefoot. You'll probably notice that your knee moves further back as a result. You may also notice that your hip joint seems to "open."
Use your hand to pull your lifted leg into position. If you can't keep your foot in place then use your hand to help keep it in place. If you have to bend forwards to do this, try using a strap or long towel to extend your reach. (Wrap the towel around your ankle and hold the towel in such a way that you can stand upright. A face towel or flannel probably won't cut it.)
Use Your Toes To Balance
So that your tree grows upwards and roots down at the same time press your standing leg into the floor.
The feeling is like you are trying to drill your leg downwards. You'll may be able to feel the bones of thigh and lower leg in one straight line pressing downwards.
As you drill you leg downwards may feel like your pelvis then presses upwards.
To expand the rest of your body upwards in tree pose, reach your ribs up away from your pelvis and your head up away from your ribcage. Lengthen your spinal column upwards.
At the same time spread your shoulderblades (move your shoulders forwards) and reach your arms forwards and then up towards the sky.
Arms Up and Relaxed, Then Up and Reaching up, then arms up and palms together.
So that your pose breathes, reach up as you inhale and then relax as you exhale.
Start with your hands apart and then work at touching them together while keeping your elbows straight. This may be easier to do if you focus on moving your shoulder blades forwards, towards the front of your chest. You can move your shoulder sockets up (towards your ears) but at the same time pull down on the inner edges of your shoulder blades.
If you have week feet or ankles, or have difficulty controlling them, you can practice activating your feet while standing on both feet.
(For more details on activating your feet, check out the "Balancing on one foot" section)
From there, you can try pressing the inner thigh of your standing leg backwards while keeping your knee pointing straight ahead. You may find that this action helps to make your standing leg more stable.
Do this while pressing foot into your inner thigh. (And press with the front of the foot and the heel.)
You can also work on resisting the foor pressure with the inner thigh of your standing leg. So as you press your foot into your inner thigh, press your inner thigh against your foot.
If you find that it is easier to do tree pose on one side versus the other, i.e. you can lift one foot higher, then it may be because of tight hip muscles. In this case work on stretching your hips. You may find that low lunge is particularly difficult and so this may be a stretch that you need to work on.
With your foot active, your next challenge may be that of keeping your spine vertical. By that I mean that your ribcage and head are both stacked on top of your pelvis.You may find that it is to do this if you watch yourself in a mirror.
To make (or keep) your spine vertical, move both your pelvis and your ribcage (and head) over the foot you are going to balance on. If you are balancing on your right foot then move the center of your pelvis and ribcage over your right foot.
Practice moving from one foot to the other while watching yourself in the mirror. Is your spine upright? If not what changes do you need to make so that it is upright?
Another way to practice keeping your spine vertical while balancing on one foot is to stand sideways next to a wall with your arm down by your side. Stand close enough that you can get your weight onto the foot closest to the wall and touch your shoulder to the wall at the same time.
Keeping your arm by your side practice moving your ribcage and pelvis together so that your shoulder, elbow and hand touch the wall and the same time.
So that you can get used to controlling your center while in tree pose, you can practice shifting your weight forwards and backwards while balancing on both feet.
With your feet active, move your body forwards so that all of your weight is evenly on the fronts of your feet. In this position the fronts of your feet and toes should press down with equal pressure.
Now shift your weight so that it is over your heels. Allow the fronts of your feet to lift.
See how long you can balance in either position.
You probably noticed that it was easier to balance with your weight over the fronts of your feet. That's because you could use your toes to help control your balance. Ideally you'll learn to balance easily on the fronts of your feet and on your heels but for now, you can practice balancing on one foot with your weight forwards. Use your toes to help you balance!
Your weight doesn't have to be all the way forwards, just forwards enough that your toes naturally press the floor. So, with both feet on the ground and your weight centered between them shift your weight forwards enough that your toes press into the floor. Remember to activate your feet first!
Now shift your weight onto your right foot. Feel the inner and outer edges of your right foot pressing down with equal pressure. Lift your left foot and balance.
Try the same thing on the other foot.
Switch back to your original foot and place your lifted foot against your inner thigh in tree pose. If you need to use your hand to help. Press your inner thigh with your heel and with your forefoot. Feel your knee reaching to the side and your hip joint opening.
If you can't get your foot up to your inner thigh then place it lower on your leg. Gradually work at lifting it higher.
Keep your center of gravity over your standing foot.
Stay aware of your standing foot and lengthen your tree pose upwards.
Smoothly and gradually lift your ribs up and away from your pelvis. Move your shoulders forwards so that your shoulder blades spread. Then reach your arms forwards and up so that your shoulder blades stay spread. Touch your hands together.
As an option you can also place your hands in front of your heart.
Can you do this with your eyes closed?
To make tree pose more interesting, or more of a challenge you can try bending to one side or the other side. You can also try twisting your ribcage. And you can try side bending and twisting your ribcage at the same time.
To do tree pose while bending to one side, you can bend first to the side of your lifted leg. So that you stay balanced in tree pose, if your hips move left then your ribcage head and arms will have to move to the right.
As you bend to the side stay aware of your foot and use it to tell you when your weight is shifting away from center. Correct it if it does.
You may find that bending to the lifted leg side is easier because this actually helps you to press your foot into your thigh. Try bending away from the lifted leg also.
To do tree pose while twisting you can turn and twist your ribcage either towards your lifted knee or away from it.
Focus on turning your ribs relative to your pelvis and also focus on twisting your thoracic spine.
Because you are standing on only one foot it can be a little bit more difficult to keep your pelvis square to the front while twisting.
Feel each vertebrae turning relative to the one below it.
You can also combine a twist with a side bend in yoga tree pose. While bending you can turn your ribcage so that your chest faces upwards or so that it faces downwards. As before, you can bend towards your lifted knee or away from it.
Standing yoga poses are one possible starting point for beginners yoga. This set is designed to improve both body awareness and yoga pose awareness and includes rest and recovery yoga poses.
This yoga workout includes exercises for working towards foot behind the head, the front to back splits and increasing arm strength and body awareness with yoga push ups. And it includes some more basic yoga poses like bridge, pigeon and seated forward bend.
This beginners yoga workout is designed to get you familiar with your body as well as some basic yoga movements. It includes poses that strengthen the arms, legs and core, and simple exercises that develop awareness, coordination and balance.
This selection of psoas stretches with a focus on lengthening the lower fibers of the psoas. You'll need some body awareness for these stretches but you may find that these stretches also help you to develop it.
The lower fibers of the psoas muscle can be a lot more difficult to stretch than the upper fibers. These are the fibers that may cause low back pain in some people. Learn how to lengthen both the lower fibers and get a taste of controlling them.
At one of his workshops Richard Freeman constantly invited us to lift our kidneys or our 12th ribs or even the back of the diaphragm in order to lengthen the psoas major. I later found out that via connective tissue (or anatomy trains) these are all connected.
The lower fibers of the psoas major can create a shearing action on the lumbar spine in some body positions. This shearing force can easily be felt in yoga poses like reclining hero pose. Learn how to counter-act that effect.
Learn how to use your psoas major to help your forward bends (it is a hip flexor after all) and your jump ups into handstand. Also included, some simple psoas stretches you can do while sitting or standing.
Pigeon yoga pose has several variations all of which can be used to stretch the outer hips and some of which can be used to stretch the hip flexors. Learn how to stretch the hips whether the front hip is lifted or whether it is resting on the floor and how to create space in this hip stretching posture.
Yoga arm stretches can be done while standing or sitting or in any other position where the arms are free. Use some of these arm positions as preparation for yoga binding poses or as substitutes.
Scapular mobility and stability can be facilitated with greater scapular awareness. These yoga exercises are designed to make it easier to become aware of your shoulder blades while moving them slowly and smoothly without the arms bearing weight. You can then carry the same awareness into exercises where the arms do carry weight.
New yoga notes, try the yoga half side split while lifting one arm to develop inner thigh strength and to work towards one armed push ups. The mindful use of tension is important to be able to smoothly transition in and out of this position.
When the hands are on the floor in yoga poses like handstand, chaturanga, wheel pose or while doing yoga push ups, one option for creating shoulder stability is to work from the ground upwards. That means stabilizing the hands, fingers and interestingly, the elbows.
Reclining half hero yoga pose, eka pada supta virasana, is a gravity assisted quadriceps stretch with several variations. Some simple adjustments can be used to help keep the knee down and create room for the hip.
Bridge yoga pose can be used as a preparation for wheel pose or as a counterpose to re-energize the body after forward bending. It can also be used as a preparation or substitute for plough pose and/or shoulderstand yoga pose.
Foot behind the head can be a challenge both mentally and physically. To make it easier work towards it while laying on your back and prepare with variations of pigeon and happy baby yoga poses.
Happy baby hip stretch can be used as a substitute for low lunge and as a preparation (or alternative) for marichyasana type yoga poses as well as foot behind the head. And it's an easy way to stretch the hip extensors without involving the hamstrings.
In pigeon yoga hip stretch you can deepen the hip stretch by gradually moving your foot further forwards. Another way to deepen the yoga pose is to add weight.
Yoga push ups can be used to develop body awareness and arm strength and help make chaturanga dandasana easier. They can also leave you feeling nicely energized.
And just like there are two options for jumping through with legs straight, there are also two options for jumping into bakasana. These tips are from Dice Lida-Klein.
If you like this site, please share it. Thanks!