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Turning to Tree Pose in Times of Stress

A standing, balancing pose like yoga’s Tree Pose (Vrikshasana, in Sanskrit) has benefits well beyond just the physical.

Physically, you are targeting your leg and core muscles; you are opening the hips and stretching the inner thighs; and your spine gets to lengthen as you ground through your standing leg and lift through your crown.

You are also practicing the art of balance, by taking one foot off the ground and placing it on your standing leg. This can be harder than it appears, and often requires a good sense of humor as you wobble, fall and come back into the pose! The frustrations keep us humble, and provide a helpful reminder to us that we are ALWAYS in a PRACTICE - - nothing is perfect!

But another, often overlooked, benefit of this pose is the focus that is required of our mind to maintain our balance. You simply cannot stay in balance if your mind is cluttered or jumping from thought to thought! So the concentration needed to be here actually helps to slow down an overactive mind, and bring it right back to center. All other mental activity has to take a back seat as you laser-focus your awareness into your body and what you are asking it to do…

For me, this is the perfect pose to turn to when my mind is feeling overworked or I’m feeling the effects of stress. I can root myself like a tree into the earth, reground, and focus on the sensations of standing / balancing / and coming back into equilibrium. My thoughts slow waaaay down, and my focus turns inwards, to center. My gaze finds a steady place to land, and my eyes can soften. Ahhhhhh.

This pose can be adapted to all levels of practice, from beginner to advanced. Wherever you are in your practice, appreciate the subtle gifts this pose brings.

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