No one knows how challenging it is to stand on one leg until they have tried Tree Pose, also known as Vrksasana.
(Pronounced as "vrick-SHAHS-anna")
The Sanskrit word vrksa means "tree." Here you will learn how to lengthen your body up and down at the same time time like a tree. Pushing down while stretching up with equal force is the key to balance.
Stand up as tall as you can with your feet together in Tadasana. Bend your right knee and turn the knee out to your right side as you lift the right foot. Grab your right foot with your hands and pull the right heel up to press against the inside of the left thigh. Pull your foot all the way up so the heel is at the root of your thigh.
Adjust your right foot so that the right toes point straight down to the floor. Make sure the entire sole of your right foot is pressing evenly against the inside of your left thigh. Adjust your center of gravity so that the center of your pelvis is above your left big toe on the floor.
Push your left foot firmly into the floor as you hold your left leg straight and balance. Put one hand on your lower abdomen and the other hand on your sacrum at your lower back. Use the pressure of your hands to adjust yourself so that you're not sticking out your lower back or your belly. When you feel that your hands are parallel to each other, then you will know you've aligned your pelvis properly.
Now inhale as you slowly lift both arms straight up together toward the sky. If you cannot maintain your balance while lifting your arms, then keep your hands on your hips instead and focus on pressing your right foot firmly against your left leg. Your goal is to eventually lift your arms up enough that they are behind your ears.
Breathe normally and gaze at a fixed point in front of you. Remain in this position for up to a minute. Then exhale as you lower the arms and foot to return to Tadasana. Switch legs to repeat the posture on the opposite side and hold it for the same amount of time.
If it is difficult for you to hold your balance, then practice the pose by standing against a wall. That way, you can lean back slightly on the wall for support while also checking your alignment. Your leg, lower back, the backs of your shoulders and your head should all maintain contact with the wall behind you.
Once you have stretched your arms up so high that your upper arms are behind your ears, then bring the palms of your hands together above your head into Namaskar mudra. Open your armpits as much as possible and expand your chest.
Try doing Half Lotus while in Tree Pose. Instead of pressing the sole of your foot against the inside of your thigh, pull the foot up higher so that your heel presses into the top of the thigh just underneath the hip bone. Extend your lifted foot through the heel so that you are not pointing your toes. Press your raised foot hard into your standing leg to keep it there when your hands let go of the foot. Then your lifted knee will automatically descend lower into perfect Half Lotus posture. Press your palms together in Namaskar mudra as you hold the posture.
Ask a partner to stand by your side and help you lift the arms. They should stand next to you to see your profile. Ask them to place one hand in between your shoulder blades and push your spine slightly in and up with gentle pressure. This will help you lengthen your arms from the bottom of your shoulders and lift your sternum. With the other hand, they can press your arm back behind your ears and slightly tug your arm upward. Then they can stand on your other side and do the same thing for the other arm.
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