This week Neelam guides us on how to hold a fundamental balancing yoga posture which has significant calming effects on the mind. Neelam details the gradual set up of the pose to ensure we are in proper alignment. Neelam Saney owns and runs “Yoga with Neelam” where she teaches private and group classes, specializing in improving flexibility, postural corrections, weight loss and muscle toning.
This week the chosen pose is…Vrksasana… also known as Tree pose!
This is an easily accessible pose to your body, the main challenge is holding your balance- thus this is a great concentration exercise. However, if you have delicate ankles or have injured them previously please do not attempt the full pose, if standing on one leg is uncomfortable feel free to place your toes on the floor.
To set up the pose, simply stand up with you feet together, lift one foot up and place in the inside of your standing leg, be it your inner thigh or on the side of your shin. Your standing foot should be planted firmly into the mat and the standing leg anchors the pose by actively pushing downwards. At the same time the lifted foot is engaged by pushing into the standing leg and the standing legs resists maintaining equilibrium between the opposing forces. You want to imagine that your legs are hugging into the mid-line of your body.
On the same token, your palms should push together with your arms engaged, again hugging into the mid-line of your body. When you feel stable bring your hands up so your fingers are pointing up to the ceiling and your inner arms are drawing closer towards your ears.
Now for the tricky part; holding the pose. First and foremost fix your gaze on one point, and don’t allow your eyes so wonder away from this point, this determines your focus. Secondly concentrate on rooting your standing leg down and lifting your arms up, allowing a great extension in your back. Lastly, focusing on your breath, take deep even breaths to stabilize your pose- holding it for 10 breaths before switching sides. You want to make sure you hold the pose for the same length of time on each side to cultivate more symmetry around each side of your body.
If you are comfortable in Tree pose, bring your attention to the knee of your lifted leg. If your knee is tilting forwards, try to draw it back to the same plane as your hips. This is a very effective hip opening exercise, if our knee leans forwards it indicates that the corresponding hip is tight and by pulling the knee back we help to increase the range of motion in that hip.
Now that you know what to do and how to do it, respect your body and enjoy your practice!