By Seema Sondhi
June 2, 2017: A strong foundation is a must for a strong and flexible body. The balancing postures help in developing the brain that control the function of movement and work towards creating physical and mental balance. The most important and the common standing posture in hatha yoga is the Vrksasana (vrksa means tree) or the tree pose. It is a posture that shows how challenging it is to stand on one leg. This posture is important as it helps in creating balance and awareness. The yogis developed the tree pose as it helps in grounding and centering our entire being and generates a sense of deep and endless patience. They have compared our legs to the trunk of the tree, the arms that are held overhead in the pose are like the branches, and if you stand in this posture for a few minutes everyday, you feel deeply rooted into the earth. You will feel grounded with a sense of clarity, focus and lot of poise. However, this posture will be difficult to perform, if you are a beginner to yoga, as it requires focus and steadiness. Regular prac- tice will enable you to overcome this minor difficulty.
Step by step
As a beginner, begin by standing on both your feet, breathing normal, hands by the side and the big toes touching each other, tighten the knees, contract the hip muscles, pull the stomach in and straighten the spine (tadasana), focus the gaze at a point ahead of you on the wall or the ground. Hold this while breathing deeply.
Lift one foot and place the foot on the root of the oppo- site thigh. You can take the support of the wall, as it will help you to maintain balance.
Place the arms on the waist for a few days of initial prac- tice and if you feel confident about your balance, raise the hands close to the sternum in prayer position.
Hold this for a few days of practice and then slowly lift the arms overhead, palms together and fingertips pointing up. Keep your eyes focused at a point a few distance away and after a few months of regular practice challenge yourself by closing the eyes to hold the posture. Hold the posture for a few seconds, as your practice improves, focus on holding the posture for 20-60 seconds.
Repeat on the other leg and then relax in tadasana.
Throughout the posture, focus on the breath and breathe deeply. While you practice the posture, the breathing is synchronized with the movements and this allows the body to relax and helps in release of tension. Your body will feel light and the mind calm and tranquil.
Start by using different foot posi- tion as a beginner. Begin by placing one foot on the opposite ankle for a few days and then progress by lifting the foot to the knee and place the foot on the thigh. After regular practice, one can come into the half lotus posi- tion, which is the final position. Work on keeping the knee tight by pulling the knee caps.
By doing this posture you will benefit in several ways.
It is effective for people who suffer from osteoporosis as it strengthens the bone mass by increasing the weight bearings on the legs, hips and the spine.
It improves balance and con- centration
Strengthens the muscles of the legs and the pelvis
Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
Opens the chest and shoulders
Improves the breathing.
Word of caution: Always listen to your body when doing a yoga pose. Don?t push yourself beyond your limits.
Practicing yoga for more than a decade, Seema Sondhi, has learnt all the styles of yoga. However, her teaching is more under the lineage of ashtanga yoga and the Sivananda school.
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This article was first published in Joyful Living magazine, sister publication of www.thinknaturaltoday.com