Vrksasana, or the Tree Pose, is yet another well-known, simple yoga pose that originates with the mountain pose shown in Chapter 1. To do the tree pose, bend one of your knees, then use your hand to bring your foot into your upper inner thigh.
If possible, press the heel of your lifted foot into the inner groin of your standing leg and keep your toes pointed towards the floor. Check to see that the center of your pelvis is aligned directly over your standing foot. Press the entirety of your weight into the foot still planted firmly on the ground, and lift your arms into the sky until they are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. Lengthen out your body (don’t hunch; keep a good posture and look straight forward at a fixed, unmoving point in the room, optimally about four to five feet away to maintain perfect balance).
Try to stay for 30 seconds to a minute, then step back into the mountain pose and repeat with your legs reversed. This is a very, very important step, since if you only do one side of your body, over time, that side will become weaker than that other. It is crucial to exercise both sides of your body equally so that your body is well-balanced and comfortable. If this pose is too difficult for you, an easier variation is to lift your foot to your shin, or below your knee, rather than to your upper thigh, or to use a nearby wall to keep your balance. The benefits of this pose are that it helps improve your ability to concentrate as well as your ability to balance.
It strengthens the arches of your feet, which are often battered and sore after a long day, and also strengthens your hips. The tree pose also stretches your shoulders, groin, and inner thighs, targeting areas that other poses are unable to. Strangely enough, it also calms your central nervous system and increases your body awareness. Again, if you have trouble balancing (because we all know that it isn’t as easy to balance on one foot as it may look), put a finger on the wall or, instead of lifting up your leg, simply turn your foot so that your toes are still touching the mat, while your heel is pressed against the ankle of the foot planted firmly on the ground. Rolling up loose pants may also help if your foot keeps sliding down your standing, or firmly planted, leg. Some words of warning: if you have high blood pressure, don’t raise your arms over your head. Instead, keep them by your side.
Also, if you find yourself with a headache on a particular day, skip this pose. Do not try any balancing poses if you feel light headed or disoriented, as you may fall over. Other conditions that may prevent you from attempting balancing poses are late term pregnancy and obesity or even insomnia. Know your limits, and while you should push yourself to be better, don’t do anything risky or overly strenuous. TIP – Keep Your Personal Space When doing yoga poses, you may find yourself wobbling or even falling over onto other people’s mats, especially with how crowded popular yoga classes can get. Keep your personal space! As you go through your different yoga poses, be aware of your surroundings. While you’ll still occasionally hit someone else on accident or be hit, don’t worry. This is normal. However, you can drastically reduce the occasions this occurs by restricting your movements to your mat. Think of your yoga mat as an island, a personal island. Anywhere outside the island is ocean, and you don’t want to fall into the ocean. Believe me, it’s not a pretty sight, especially if one person topples over and starts a domino effect. While it’s good to step outside your comfort zone and get your moves going, depending on the situation, be thoughtful.
Some days, when it’s more crowded, use the island mindset. When you’re in the privacy of your own home, feel free to do whatever you wish to do. To rephrase: there’s a time and a place for everything, even in yoga. Respect others and be respected. If you find someone else keeps intruding on your personal space, don’t be afraid to let them know. Yoga is a personal, reflective time, and you deserve to have your own space to think and to do poses. If they continue to bother you, tell the instructor. If you don’t wish to create a scene, rather than accusing the offending person, ask if you can switch a space because you can’t focus where you are. In such scenarios, be confident, honest, and unwavering, especially if you’ve paid for your classes. If you don’t wish to risk these scenarios (which shouldn’t usually happen; don’t worry!), you can always learn at home using online videos or DVDs. On the flip side, if someone else tells you that you’re intruding on their personal space, don’t be offended! Smile, apologize, and go back to your yoga poses. Be at peace with yourself and your surroundings. You are not there to create a ruckus or fire back insults; you’re there to let your mind and body be free and to distress.
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