Vrksasana: tree pose and you
There is a linden tree not far from Basel that protects the village of Linn in canton Aargau. According to legend, the tree was planted after the death of many inhabitants to keep the plague from ever again visiting the village. Sitting beneath that tree, you feel its strength, its comfort, its promise of safety.
Tree pose, or vrksasana, is a balancing pose. Trying to keep your balance doesn’t sound like it would inspire feelings of safety and stability. But as you practice the pose you may start to find that it does. As your standing leg roots firmly to the ground and your arms and torso lift to the sky, you feel calm and secure. It’s a moment to check in with your breathing, to still your mind.
To move into the pose:
- From tadasana (standing “stable mountain” pose), shift your weight into your left leg so that your right leg becomes very light.
- On an inhale lift your right knee so that your right foot comes off the ground. On an exhale place your right foot alongside your left ankle (easiest version of the pose), against your left calf, or against your left thigh (hardest version of the pose).
- Bring your hands to prayer position on an inhale and press your palms together on an exhale. With an inhale, left your arms above your head.
- Hold for a few breaths and then lower your hands slowly and release foot to floor. Repeat on the other side.
Keeping your gaze fixed on a point on the ground or wall in front of you will keep your balance more stable. Focus on your breath, on the feeling of your standing foot pushing into the ground with the weight distributed evenly.
Why not try practicing this pose for a week? See how it evolves over time and how you feel as you move into it again and again. Maybe by the end of the week you will feel your concentration heighten and a greater sense of stability and security in the pose. And then maybe you’ll go out to Linn and visit the linden tree.