Tree pose…the ultimate yoga juice! This pose has balance, concentration, flexibility, strength and so much more!
There are so many Tree variations that it is exciting to explore all the options, but here are a few, very basic safety cues that many, many people forget to avoid any misalignments in Tree Pose.
1. Foot on the Knee Joint
This is actually quite unsafe and makes it impossible to get all the strength out of the pose. Your knee is not the most stable joint to start with due to its anatomy. Add in pressing your foot against the inner edge of the knee in Tree Pose and you create a bowstring effect that weakens the inner ligaments over time.
How to Fix It: Keep your foot above or below the knee. I use the catch phrase “No Knee Tree” in every class.
2. Unstable Leg and Wobbliness
This can be a result of the day you have had, a previous injury or how concentrative you are in the moment. It can also be a result of an unstable standing leg. That alone will cause you to wobble about and it is so easy to fix!
You can fix your gaze all you want, but if your standing leg isn’t “zipped up” then it will be very hard to balance for long periods of time, and let’s face it — Tree pose can be so delicious as a meditation!
How to Fix It: Create more stability in your standing leg by zipping it up, bringing your kneecap up towards your hip. Then think about wrapping your thigh muscle internally from the outside of your hip down to the inner knee.
Now think about wrapping your lower leg externally, from your inner knee to your outer heel.
3. Hip Misalignment
Letting the bent knee's hip joint raise higher is a natural response from your body in any version of Tree Pose, but it creates misalignment in your sacrum and low back which then travels all the way up your body. It also means you are not as engaged as you could be.
How to Fix It: Drop your “tree leg” down a little and place your hands on your hips to ensure they stay in line with each other. If one is higher, simply drop it down and reignite the standing leg.
4. Arched Back
This Pose is not a back bend, but occasionally, in focusing so intently on our balance or on strengthening the standing leg, we lose sight of our back arch and our core strength. The truth is, this adjustment will keep you in the pose longer…
How to Fix It: Pull your belly in and attempt to hook your navel on your rib cage. Now press your hips forward and lift your chest up.
5. Ankle Overstretched
This applies to the half-bound version of the Tree a.k.a. Standing Half Lotus Tree pose (that’s the Bikram Tree to all our hot yoga practitioners).
In this pose, the ankle rests on the upper thigh near the groin and inguinal groove. This is a delicious hip opener and opens a world of possibilities for toe stands and arm binds, but with the ankle not flexed, it creates excess strain on the external ligaments of the ankle joint and lends us more prone to strained and sprained ankles over time.
How to Fix It: Simply flex your foot so that the joint is straight. It makes it more intense and might make it slightly more challenging to do any arm binds or toe stand transitions you had planned, but it will ensure a healthy ankle joint.
Now pick your arm variation to go with the pose and go to town in Tree Pose, yogis!