Woman demonstrates Tree Pose

Tree Pose

A classic standing posture, Vrksasana establishes strength and balance in the legs, and helps you feel centered, steady and grounded.

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Vrksasana (Tree Pose) teaches you to simultaneously ground down through your body while reaching tall like the branches of a mighty oak tree. In this pose, you balance on one leg while placing the sole of your opposite foot somewhere along the inside of your standing leg (anywhere but your knee!). Continuously engage your ankles, legs, and core and notice what tiny movements your body might make to help you stay balanced.

By strengthening your legs, glutes, core, and back, Tree Pose can help improve your posture and alignment, which is especially helpful if you sit a lot throughout the day.

What makes this seemingly simple pose special is that it teaches you to explore your connection with your body. Maybe one day your lifted foot is positioned closer to your groin. Maybe another day, you leave your foot partially on the ground for balance. Be honest with your limits and learn to honor what your body needs on any given day.

Tree Pose basics

Sanskrit: Vrksasana (vrik-SHAHS-anna)

Targets: Lower body

Why we love it: “A tidbit I picked up along the way and have often repeated is that stiffer trees are more likely to be felled in a storm; the trees that can bend in the wind are less prone to breaking. I love to remember this in Vrksasana: a little sway from side to side is a sign of resilience and an opportunity to find equilibrium in the middle of shifting circumstance.” —Sage Rountree, Yoga Journal contributor

Pose benefits

This standing posture is a great pose for improving your balance, as well as your postural and body awareness. In addition to its physical benefits, this pose can assist in calming and relaxing the mind—relieving you of anxious thoughts and feelings.

Tree Pose: Step-by-step instructions

Woman demonstrates Tree Pose
(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)
  1. Stand in Tadasana. Spread your toes, root down through your feet and firm your leg muscles. Raise your front hip points toward your lower ribs until you feel a gentle lift in your lower belly.
  2. Inhale deeply, floating your chest up, and exhale as you draw your shoulder blades down your back. Look straight ahead at a steady gazing spot.
  3. Place your hands on your hips and raise your right foot high onto your left thigh.
  4. Press your right thigh open as far as you can until your pelvis just begins to rotate with the leg.
  5. Open the knee and then bring your pelvis back to neutral, squared to the front.
  6. If you feel stable, stretch your arms overhead like branches reaching into the sun.
  7. Step back into Mountain Pose and repeat on the other side.

Teaching Tree Pose

These cues will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:

  • Imagine that your body is centered on an invisible plumb line dropping from the crown of your head, through the middle of your torso and pelvis, and straight into the ground beneath you. You want to remain centered around that plumb line even though you’re on only one leg. To do this, strengthen the trunk of the tree—your core—and firm your standing leg by hugging the muscles of your inner thigh in toward your midline.
  • Feel free to use a wall. You can put a hand on a nearby wall or stand near a wall in case you lose your balance.

Variation: Tree Pose with foot on calf

Woman demonstrates a variation of Tree Pose
(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

If you struggle to maintain balance in Tree, place  your foot on your calf rather than on your inner thigh.