Tree pose has always been one of my favorite yoga poses; it’s empowering, grounding, and best of all – achievable. Even those that are new to yoga seem to intuitively know how to “be a tree”. When I’m teaching beginner classes and say, “let’s move into tree pose”, I’m always amazed because people immediately put their arms up high like a tree and balance on one leg – as if we innately know how to be grounded and strong.
In my opinion, tree pose is the epitome of yoga. In one move you’re able to find stillness and balance, generate strength, and practice humility. Although tree pose doesn’t require intense, heart rate boosting movements, it’s powerful in its own right. One study suggests that standing, opening balancing poses elicit a “different” sense of power that helps to increase self-esteem and empowerment. Like many poses, to gain maximum benefit and prevent injury, it’s important to ensure correct posture.
On a personal note, as someone who is relatively flat-footed (thanks Grandma!), paying close attention to stretching and grounding through my feet in tree pose has helped to remedy my flat feet. I also have several private yoga clients suffering from varying degrees of sciatica who seem to swear by this pose! Use the steps below to plant your tree correctly.
How to Become a Tree:
Stand with feet hip distance apart. Root your left foot down as if they were the roots of a tree.
Bend your right knee towards your chest (use your hand to bring your foot up if you need to) and open up the knee to the right like you’re opening up a gate. Place the inside of your right foot near your inner left thigh (be sure not to place it on the knee!).
Place your hands in Anjali Mudra (hands to heart) and take a deep breath. Keep your navel in towards your abdomen, the crown of the head reaching up towards the sky, and notice the lengthening of the spine.
If you want to move on to full tree pose. Extend your arms into a “V” shape overhead, growing your branches to elicit feelings of strength and stillness. If your branches waver or you feel unsteady, let it happen and come back into the pose at your convenience. This is your practice!
Starting your day with tree pose is a great way to calm your mind and generate strength for what lies ahead (plus it’s one of the most beautiful yoga poses that exist!) I like to also set an intention in tree pose; this can be a phrase, a word, a feeling, a color, a wish, etc. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something positive that will bring you joy no matter what your day throws at you.