There is a great deal of symbolism in vrksasana, tree pose. Trees stand strong despite the constant exposure to the elements and they are very adaptable. They lose their leaves when winter is coming so that they can handle the weight of snow, they are flexible in heavy winds, they root deep into the earth and share of themselves with other creatures who need a home. They are also frequently cut down for firewood, lumber and other products. We can take lessons from the tree. Are we able to let go of the old to make way for what is to come as a tree does it’s leaves? Can we remain flexible enough to weather our personal storms even as we stay grounded in who we are? Are you sacrificing yourself for comfort and material gains? Standing in tree pose, contemplate who you are and where you should perhaps be more flexible and where you need to hold your ground and stay true to yourself so that you don’t get cut down.
To take tree pose, start standing in tadasana, with the feet planted firmly to the floor and the arms hanging at the sides. Pull your shoulder blades onto your back and make your spine tall. Root your tailbone toward the floor and engage your bandhas. Ensure that the ears are sitting directly over the shoulders and the shoulders are relaxed. Now transfer your weight into one foot, engaging the muscles firmly in this standing leg. The toes of the lifting foot can stay on the floor as shown here:
The foot can come up along the calf or over the knee, but never on the knee! As you hold the pose, think about pressing the foot into the leg and the leg back into the foot. Stand tall like a mighty oak tree, making space through all of your vertebrae, while maintaining the strength in the standing leg. The hands can come into anjali mudra, prayer, at the heart or lift overhead. As with any standing pose, try not to grip in the toes. It’s helpful to pick a point on the wall or floor to focus on as well- it helps you to maintain your balance.
This pose is great for building concentration, for building strength in the thighs, ankles and spine and can also help with sciatica.