Yoga Pose 101: Vrksasana aka Tree Pose

Daniel Scott
Yoga Pose 101: Vrksasana aka Tree Pose

Vrksasana or Tree Pose

Pronounced vrick-SHAS-ah-na

vrksa = tree

Fun Fact: The Guinness Book of World Records lists the Manchineel, a fruit-bearing tree indigenous to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, as the most dangerous tree known to man.

Any contact with the caustic sap or bark will blister skin or blind eyes, much like the first experience many yogis have during their first hot yoga class.

Benefits

  • Strengthen Those Roots! Thighs, calves, ankles, feet, and toes.
  • Open the Groins and Inner Thighs! Yup, groins. Groins, groins, groins.
  • Improve Balance! Every breath you ain’t falling, you gettin’ betta.
  • Relieve Sciatica. Making moms (and others, of course) happy around the world.

Contraindications/Cautions

Low Blood Pressure? Go slow, don’t push it, and stop if you start getting light headed. Keep your tree upright.

Step by Step

From Tadasana (aka Mountain Pose aka Yogic Standing Situation)

  1. Inhale: Pick a drishti (focal point) somewhere eye level. It helps if this is a fixed point and not a moving target.
  2. Exhale: Root down, spread toes, lift arches, and create the best footprint you can.
  3. Inhale: Bring sole of foot (toes pointing down) to the inside of the opposite thigh. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t be reading this if you could bring it to the inside of the same thigh.
  4. Exhale: Activate sole of raised foot into inner thigh and vice versa. Energize bones to spread hips and raised thigh towards side wall.
  5. Inhale: Raise arms (if you haven’t already) towards the ceiling. Start with hands shoulder distance apart, work towards bringing palms together (if you feel like that’s necessary).

Modifications & Beginner’s Tip

  • Having Trouble Getting the Raised Heel Jammed Up Near Your Crotch? Maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t need to be there. See how high you can naturally raise and place the foot.
  • Balance-Challenged? Try placing the foot on the inside of the opposite calf. You can even keep the lifted foot’s toes on the ground, next to the supporting leg’s ankle for extra control until things change (they will). This variation adds a little dandy flair, which in my opinion, fits well into every practice.
  • Pain in the Knees? For the standing leg—avoid putting direct pressure on the supporting knee with the raised foot. Let the placement be above or below the joint. For the raised leg—stop wrenching the foot into your crotch (see above).

Deepen the Pose

Basic: Palms together in front of the heart.

Intermediate: One hand on hip, other on raised thigh above knee. Gently pour as much weight into raised leg with hand. This creates traction in the lower back and hips.

Advanced: Close those eyes, yogi, and lift that heel. 

Image Credit: Beyond Drishti