Advice From a Tree
Stand Tall and Proud
Go Out On a Limb
Remember Your Roots
Drink Plenty of Water
Be Content With Your Natural Beauty
Enjoy The View
Tree pose is a challenging balance pose, but not as rigid as many other yoga poses. With one foot rooted in the ground, and arms over head, the body sways much like a tree in the wind.
Tree pose is a favorite of all my little yogi’s, and they easily transform into beautiful trees, ‘though sometimes with wobbly roots.
Benefits of Tree Pose
- Improves focus, memory and concentration.
- Improves balance.
- Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calf, and vertebral column.
How To Do Tree Pose
1. Stand tall and straight with your feet grounded. Imagine that your body is centered on an invisible plum line dropping from the crown of your head, through the middle of your torso and pelvis, and straight into the ground.
2. Find your *Drishti. Keep a steady gaze to help maintain your balance.
*Drishti is a Sanskrit word that means view or gaze. In yoga practice, every pose has a prescribed gazing point, or drishti, designed to focus eyes on a single point and bring the mind to a single, concentrated state. To help withbalance poses in children’s yoga, I place red poker chips on the floor about 3-4 feet in front of their mats.
3. Bend your right knee and place your right foot high up on your left thigh. Make sure that your left leg is straight.
4. If it is difficult to find your balance,
- try placing your foot on your calf, or against your ankle with your great toe on your mat, like a “kick stand”
- bring your arms out to the side for more stability
- practice next to a wall, placing a hand on the wall for support.
There are many varieties of trees in the forest.
5. Once you have found your balance, take a deep breath in and raise your arms over your head from your sides and bring your hands together in Namaste Mudra.
6. Ensure that your spine is straight, and shoulders are down your back.
7. Slowly inhale and exhale, relaxing as you breath.
8. Return to Mountain pose and repeat Tree pose with the left leg off the ground on the right thigh.
Fun With Tree Pose
A Forest of Trees: Children gather randomly in a defined area and stand rooted in their version of tree pose.
Group Tree: Children stand in a circle holding hands. Everyone finds their balance in tree pose with their right leg rooted to the ground and left leg on their right thigh. Everyone then carefully brings their arms overhead still holding hands. This beautiful group pose fosters connection.
Partner Tree: Stand back to back with a partner. Come into Tree pose lifting the same side leg. Raise your arms and connect them overhead. Switch legs. These partner and group poses foster social skills and good communication for children and teens.
A game of Red Light, Green Light, Tree: An active way to practice listening skills and balance.
The game is played in the same way as the traditional Red Light, Green Light game, but when “it” says “Red Light” everyone else has to freeze in Tree Pose. You can add a yellow light for really slow walking, and a brown light for crawling. Whoever tags the “it” person first is “it” for the next round. You can make the rule that whoever falls out of tree pose has to go back to the beginning, or go back 2 steps. Have fun!
Bring Trees into Your Yoga Class or Just Imagine
“The forest starts as a seed, how does your forest and seed look like?”
The Lorax, by jing-o-jang
Tree pose can inspire stories of adventures in the forest, exploring trees in other lands, even learning about the life cycle of the tree. Children amaze me with their imaginations as they act out these adventures in yoga poses.
- In Tree pose they bend their arms and bodies and become crooked trees.
- With their elbows out to the side at right angles and their palms up, they become cacti.
- Hands in Namaste pose overhead, they become pine trees, and apart, they grow into oak trees.
- Their outstretched arms become branches, which provide homes for bird nests, playgrounds for squirrels, resting places for jaguars and panthers, climbing structures for children, and shade for playgrounds and back yards.
Stand and imagine your feet are growing roots into the floor. When your roots feel strong and energized, like they are drawing energy up through the floor, stretch your arms up to be the branches, fingers open wide. When the wind blows, they sway in the breeze and stretch your sides. Your fingers breathe in the air all the way to your toes, just like the leaves send air to the roots. Then breathe out and relax back into Mountain Pose.