Vrksasana - Tree PoseBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

In the United States, we have just celebrated our independence from English rule. We are a country of fierce independence. However, our society is also set-up to foster dependency on almost everything around us. The sense of dependency is so ingrained in our culture that many of us would be at a complete loss if we didn’t have clean, running water or electricity for more than a day or two. In the same way, many of us are also psychologically dependent on the diversity of electronic stimuli that is available to us at all hours of the night and day.

This “electronic entertainment” includes cell phones, tablets, televisions, computers and so on. There are endless ways that we can all distract ourselves from emotions or memories that cause anxiety or are distressing to one extent or another. A comprehensive practice of Yoga poses, breathing exercises, chanting sacred mantras, and periods of meditation all help to facilitate and nurture our connection to an independent source of happiness that is not hampered by external experiences.

The “toolbox” of Yoga practices originated in India over 5,000 years ago. It is a tried and true comprehensive series of postures, breathing exercises, moral guidelines, and contemplative practices that free one of internal and external suffering. Of course, in the context of a serious illness or injury, the practices of Yoga may not be able to completely eradicate your suffering, but a regular Yoga practice will help to relieve your suffering and keep your spirits and mind in a more positive state.

* Vriksasana or Tree Pose

Tree Pose is a very effective Yoga asana for improving balance, strengthening the legs and opening the hips. Tree Pose is also a wonderful Yoga asana for helping to ground you on your own feet, while simultaneously connecting you to the heavens above. Additionally, this Yoga posture facilitates the withdrawal of the senses through pratyahara as it challenges you to have patience with yourself.

To practice Vriksasana or Tree Pose, come to Tadasana at the front of your Yoga mat. You may wish to practice a series of Sun Salutations to warm up your body before practicing Tree Pose. However, Tree Pose can also be practiced as a stand-alone Yoga asana. It is lovely to practice Tree Pose after grounding first in Tadasana. When you are ready, with an inhale shift your weight to your left foot and place your right foot against your calf or above your knee on the inside of your left thigh.

Do not place your foot directly on your knee. This will strain the knee joint and could cause an injury. Depending on your level of flexibility today, place your right foot flush against your upper calf or lower inner thigh of your left leg with your toes pointing toward the floor. Exhale as you settle into the pose, and with your next inhale raise your arms over your head. Press your palms together in Prayer Position. Elongate your spine and feel the ground beneath you as your hands reach towards the heavens.

Pick a gazing point or drishti on the Yoga mat or floor in front of you. Hold this point while you breath deeply and fully for three to five breaths. As you practice Tree Pose, you will notice that if your mind wanders and your gaze becomes unsteady, your stance will become unsteady as well. If this happens, simply continue to breath and refocus your gaze on a singular point on the floor or mat in front of you. As one Yoga teacher was known to say, “Trees sway. If you sway, simply refocus your gaze on a point in front of you and continue to breathe.”

If you sway so much that you fall out of the pose, simply reestablish the posture and continue to hold Vriksasana until your are ready to come out of the posture. Tree Pose offers many Yoga practitioners the opportunity to practice patience over and over again! When you are finished with your practice of Tree Pose on the right side, with an exhale release your hands and your right foot and come back to Tadasana at the front of your Yoga mat. Pause for a moment in Tadasana, and then repeat Tree Pose on the left side when you are ready.

© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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