Tree pose, known in Sanskrit as vrksasana, is one of the most simple yet profound postures in the vast pantheon of yoga asanas. It was one of my most favorite poses when I first started yoga some 20 years ago, and it still is today. I think the reason I love it so is because it grounds me like no other standing pose can. At the same time, it makes me feel proud and strong---not unlike the ancient oaks that line my neighborhood street. When I'm in tree pose, I'm deeply grounded in the present moment. My thoughts slow. I feel stable, capable and oh-so-centered. When I'm feeling scattered, all I need to do is get right into tree pose and within moments, I'm back to my center, and back to being rooted in the now.
Here are six benefits of tree pose to help further motivate all of us yogis to practice this beloved posture on a daily basis.
Tree pose is first and foremost a balancing posture. We stand on one leg while we practice the pose, which works to strengthen all parts of the standing leg – calves, quads and ankles. With the leg that presses into the ankle, calf or inner thigh, tree pose also helps to lengthen the inner groin and inner thighs.
When we stretch our arms above our heads, we also stretch our shoulders and chest while strengthening the spine in the process. This is really important because the ancient yogis regarded the health of the spine as central to longevity and good health.
Whenever we balance on one foot, we can work to lift the inner arches of the grounding foot, which alleviates the negative health aspects of having flat feet. In doing so, we also help strengthen the ligaments and tendons in that foot. As we ground down into the earth, we ground ourselves, literally and figuratively. Therefore, tree pose is a highly grounding and centering posture. It gives us stability and balance, which is truly vital for living well. (Read more in Getting Grounded: What it Means and How to Get It.)
Because tree pose is a weight-bearing pose, it also helps to strengthen our bones – namely, our hip bones and leg bones. This is really important as we age, especially for women who are more prone to osteoarthritis and osteopenia.
Tree pose also works on our powers of concentration. As we hold the pose, we focus our gaze, or drishti, on one point. Focusing our eyes in a single-pointed way helps us to balance in the posture, while also training our eyes and mind to stay focused – to refrain from running this way and that. The more we practice tree pose, the more we train our minds to have more concentration and focus – another essential aspect of the art of yoga. Cultivating a calm and peaceful mind as we practice tree pose is truly one of its greatest health benefits. (Read more in Your Mind Isn't Actually You: How to Quiet the 'Monkey Chatter.')
Tree pose can also connect us to nature. When we mimic aspects of nature, we’re embodying them. When we hold tree pose, we often sway, just as trees do when touched by the wind. When we fall in tree pose, we learn that falling is a part of life. Trees fall from the harsh elements of nature and when we fall we learn that this is simply a natural way of being. It’s part of the process, and it’s also a part of our personal growth as yogis. Falling isn’t bad or good. It’s simply a part of the practice. (Learn more in What Yoga Teaches Me About Life.)
Builds Confidence and Self-Esteem
Who doesn’t want to build their confidence and self-esteem? It’s said that by practicing tree pose on a daily basis you’ll be doing just that. All balancing asanas help us achieve and maintain a sense of balance in many aspects of our lives. When we do this, we naturally feel more confident. We feel a deep sense of being grounded – both to the earth and to our inner self. This includes bringing a sense of balance to our minds. It’s much more difficult to feel good about ourselves when our mind is running like crazy.
Grow Your Roots
As you can see, tree pose is one of the most powerful poses in the pantheon of yoga asanas. It's perfect for students of all levels---from the beginning yogi to the advanced practitioner. Not only does it make our muscles stronger, it also makes our attention stronger. Not only does it open, lengthen and strengthen our bodies, it also strengthens our self-esteem and self-worth. Whenever you're feeling out of touch with nature and the universe, simply spend some time in tree pose. You'll feel more connected to nature, to life, and everything that is and always will be. Tree pose is that profound.