Over the last year, I’ve created a lot of videos, from tutorials to workouts and yoga flows. One thing I’ve noticed is that I have a tendency to waffle. My desire to educate sometimes leads to information overload. In an effort to niche and narrow my focus here are some tips and tricks on how to improve tree pose.
The accompanying video is 7 minutes long, and trust me took a lot of editing from the 32 minutes it was originally. Did I mention I suffer from verbal diarrhea? That along with a case of the Monday morning blues had me blathering like an idiot about tree pose. My goal moving forward for these tutorial type videos is to keep them short and sweet.
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How to improve tree pose
Before getting started with these steps make sure to check out my tree pose tutorial. While tree looks easy there are some things that many people get wrong. Like not using support, compensating by twisting the hips, and much more. I’ve split the tips on how to improve tree pose into 3 sections: the lifted bent leg, the standing leg, and advanced variations for those wanting an increased challenge.
Improve tree pose – the bent leg
The bend leg of tree post is in external rotation. It’s rotated away from the body, requiring some openness in the hips. Notice if one hip feels more open than the other. Try not to compensate for restriction in the hips by moving the pelvis. Instead work on:
- Mobility in the hips. Make sure to warm up specifically for external rotation. This could include a figure four stretch, recline tree pose, or a specific yoga sequence for the hips.
- If you feel tension or restriction in the inner thighs then try to release that. My preferred way is a by squeezing a yoga block, and slowly relaxing. Try that three times and retest your tree pose
- Stop forcing begin accepting where you are, modify if needed. Progression may be different right to left, and isn’t always linear. Especially if you have had injuries in the hips. Example: My left hip isn’t as open as my right due to a motorcycle fall. As such the progress with that left hip is MUCH slower.
- Explore other externally rotated poses. If you want more open hips in tree pose then try other poses in the same family. Poses like warrior 2, triangle or butterfly are great ways to work towards improving tree pose
Improve tree pose -the standing leg
The obviously challenging thing when thinking about how to improve tree pose is balance. Standing on one leg can be a challenge. It’s a challenge right to left, day to night, and hour to hour. One day you have balance, and things are going great, the next day you cannot balance to save your life. Even worse if you have a condition like vertigo. So notice, which is your stronger leg? Which has more balance? Do you feel more comfortable on one leg? Which leg can you stand on longer?
- Notice where your foot connects to the floor. Is that different right to left? Press through the corners of the foot. Maybe try some foot rolling to wake up the muscles of the feet.
- Don’t rush. We all tend to rush or skip the things we suck at. Slow down, stop getting annoyed and embrace the suck!
- Double it up! If you know you have one leg that’s balanced challenged do an extra rep on that side. My left side is more wobbly than my right so I tend to stand on my left leg, then my right, and then I’ll repeat my left leg. It’s like a bonus tree pose!
Adding more challenge to the pose
So your hips are open, your balance is good and you can stay in the pose for 5-8 breaths. How to improve tree pose further? Increase the balance challenge! We can do that a few ways, but here are three ways.
- Choose a more challenging arm position. If your hands are at the heart or hips, lift the arms up. There are a ton of arm variations in standing yoga poses.
- Slowly move the arms! Transition the arms from reaching overhead to the sides, then to the front. Just move! Asymmetrical arms will be more challenging than symmetrical ones.
- Pratyahara! Translated from sanskrit that means “withdrawal of the senses”. To practice this in tree pose – close your eyes. You may want to regress to the wall, or a modified tree and progress slowly. Having the eyes closed really challenges our proprioception.
I hope these tips were helpful. Try a couple the next time you get on your mat. Then maybe put things into practice with my 20-minute tree pose sequence.
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- Where do you feel restricted in tree pose?
- Can you feel any difference right/left in balance?
- Which tip is one you’ll try in your practice?