The Balancing Asana – Vrikshasana
Vrikshasana is also known as Tree Pose. Vrikshasana is a balancing asana. It is one of the very few standing poses in medieval hatha yoga and remains popular in modern yoga as exercise.
Vrikhasana is a standing asana that improves balance, focus, and mental clarity. The name comes from the Sanskrit vrikhsa means “tree,” and asana means”pose.”This asana requires the practitioner to stand on one leg with the other leg bent so the footrests on the inside of the thigh.
The hands are extended overhead with palms touching.
Table of Contents
- 1 - Origin of Vrikshasana
- 2 - How to do the Vrikshasana
- 3 - Benefits of the Vrikshasana
- 3.1 - Vrikshasana helps to promote balance
- 3.2 - Vrikshasana helps tone the leg muscles
- 3.3 - Vrikshasana helps to strengthen the hips and pelvic region
- 3.4 - Vrikshasana helps build focus and concentration
- 3.5 - Vrikshasana helps to improve your posture
- 3.6 - Vrikshasana helps to reduce the risk of sciatica
- 4 - Cautions of Vrikshasana
- 5 - Modifications & Variations of Vrikshasana
- 6 - Warnings of Vrikshasana
- 7 - Precautions To Take Before Vrikshasana
Origin of Vrikshasana
A 7th-century stone carving in Mahabalipuram appears to contain a figure standing on one leg. Perhaps indicating that a pose similar to vrikshasana was in use at that time. It is said that sadhus disciplined themselves by choosing to meditate in the pose.
The pose is described in the 17th century Gheranḍa Saṃhita.
How to do the Vrikshasana
Some of the steps to do Vrikshasana are:
- You should stand tall and straight with arms by the side of your body.
- You should bend your right knee and place the right foot high up on your left thigh. The sole of the foot should be placed flat and firmly near the root of the thigh.
- You make sure that your left leg is straight. Find your balance.
- Once you are well balanced, take a deep breath in, gracefully raise your arms over your head from the side, and bring your palms together in ‘Namaste’ mudra (hands-folded position).
- You should look straight ahead in front of you, at a distant object. A steady gaze helps maintain a steady balance
- Ensure that your spine is straight. Your entire body should be taut like a stretched elastic band. Keep taking in long deep breaths. With each exhalation relax the body more and more. Just be with the body and the breath with a gentle smile on your face.
- With slow exhalation, gently bring down your hands from the sides. You may gently release the right leg. Stand tall and straight as you did at the beginning of the posture. Repeat this pose with the left leg off the ground on the right thigh.
Benefits of the Vrikshasana
Some of the benefits of doing Vrikshasana are:
Vrikshasana helps to promote balance
The first benefit of Vrikshasana is Vrikshasana helps to promote balance. since vrikshasana is primarily a balancing posture that aids in improving balance – both physical and emotional. Just as a tree is able to balance while staying firmly rooted, the posture aims to keep your body and mind from wandering and stay balanced while being in the moment.
You’ll find that your body is more centered from within and it creates a sense of calm and equilibrium.
Vrikshasana helps tone the leg muscles
The second benefit of Vrikshasana is Vrikshasana helps tone the leg muscles. Since you’re using the weight of one leg at a time, vrikshasana helps build muscle throughout the leg – right from the feet and ankles to the shins calves, knees, and thighs. It makes the legs much stronger and used to better endurance.
It also helps with better flexibility in the legs.
Vrikshasana helps to strengthen the hips and pelvic region
The third benefit of Vrikshasana is Vrikshasana helps to strengthen the hips and pelvic region. Since the hips in vrikshasana are opened out, it increases flexibility and strength in that area. Because of the way in which posture is weight-bearing the bones of the hips and the pelvic region are also strengthened along with the muscles keeping hip osteoporosis at bay.
It also gives you strong glutes and is good for the uterus and ovarian health.
Vrikshasana helps build focus and concentration
The fourth benefit of Vrikshasana is Vrikshasana helps build focus and concentration. Since vrikshasana creates a sense of balance within the body, it also translates into mental wellbeing building focus, and concentration making your mind sharper and lesser prone to meandering. It helps stabilize the nervous system making it functional to an optimum.
Besides its qualities of enabling mental performance, vrikshasana is also good for self-esteem and to keep depression and mood swings at bay. It could also help prevent the onset of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Vrikshasana helps to improve your posture
The fourth benefit of Vrikshasana is Vrikshasana helps to improve your posture. Since vrikshasana requires standing correctly for longish periods of time with your spine straight, your feet strong, and your upper body relaxed but erect. It helps build posture in one of the most natural and organic ways possible.
For instance, it keeps you from slouching over unnecessarily or from putting too much weight on one leg. Since you’ll strengthen both legs equally.
Vrikshasana helps to reduce the risk of sciatica
The fourth benefit of Vrikshasana is Vrikshasana helps to reduce the risk of sciatica. Sciatica is best defined as the pain that radiates from the sciatic nerve down the length of the body. Causes vary from lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle to degeneration of spinal discs or sleeping on a lumpy mattress.
It is characterized by burning or tingling, weakness, constant pain, and so on. The pain can be extremely debilitating but regular practice of vrikshasana can help alleviate the symptoms, and heal the pain to a great extent.
Cautions of Vrikshasana
Due to the balancing nature of the posture, do not practice Tree Pose if you are currently experiencing headaches, insomnia, low blood pressure, or if you are lightheaded and/or dizzy. Those with high blood pressure issues should not hold the position with raised arms overhead for too long. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
Modifications & Variations of Vrikshasana
Practicing Tree Pose can be a great way to gain balance, grace, and poise for beginners and advanced students. Some of these simple changes to adapt the pose to your current abilities are given below:
- If you are unable to bring your foot to your thigh, rest your foot alongside your calf muscle or the ankle of your standing leg, instead.
- Rest the toes of your raised foot on the floor if you need extra assistance balancing.
- If you are very unsteady, try practicing the pose with your back against a wall for extra support.
- Alternatively, you can place a chair next to the standing-leg side of your body and rest your hand on the back of the chair for extra support.
- For a greater challenge when your arms are overhead, close your eyes. Practice balancing without using the outside world for reference.
Warnings of Vrikshasana
Some of the warnings of Vrikshasana are:
- Avoid putting your foot on your inner knee if you have any knee pain, knee injuries or knee ligament injuries, or knee arthritis. Instead, keep your foot on your calf or inner thigh.
- Avoid if you have high blood pressure or vertigo, migraine, or insomnia.
Precautions To Take Before Vrikshasana
Some of the precautions to take before Vrikshasana are:
- If you suffer from migraine, higher low blood pressure, do not practice this asana.
- Avoid practicing Vrikshasana if you are suffering from insomnia.
- In the beginning, you may find it difficult to place your leg above the knee, so you can place it below the knee but never place it on the knee.
- Avoid this asana if you had a recent leg injury to your knees.