Balance postures like tree pose are about more than just learning to stand on one foot. Practicing balance hones our attention and increases focus. From a physiological standpoint, balancing strengthens the legs, ankles and feet.
To come into the pose, stand with the feet hip width apart. Close the eyes. Feel into the ankles, the feet, toes and soles. Imagine the soles of the feet can grow roots. Shift your weight to the left foot. Bend your right knee, bringing the toes to the floor or ankle. Find steadiness. If you easily find balance here, bring the sole higher up the leg to the inner shin. Next step is to reach down and clasp your right ankle, bringing it to the inner thigh. Avoid pressing the foot to the knee joint. Throughout the pose center the pelvis over the left foot.
Wherever the sole lands, firmly press it against the inner left leg. Press your palms together at the heart, or lift the arms high. Keep your gaze soft on the floor and breathe smoothly.
Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. On an exhale, gently step back to standing and pause. Breathe. Repeat for the same length of time on the opposite side.
• Legs, ankles, mental focus
- Strengthens the legs and ankles
- Opens the groins, inner thighs, chest and shoulders (if the arms are lifted)
- Improves balance
- Relieves sciatica and flat feet
If you have high blood pressure keep the arms by the sides, or press the palms together at the heart. If your balance is unsteady, try this posture against the wall. Whether against the wall or free standing, release any attachment to balancing – enjoy the freedom of standing tall on one leg!