Vrksasana: The Story of Tree Pose
By Ray Long, MD, FRCSC • August 7th, 2011 • 17392 Views
Several stories take place simultaneously in this pose. Vrksasana is both a balancing pose and, secondarily, a hip opener. It also contains elements of movement that ascend while others remain rooted into the ground. Apply the concepts used in Tadasana to the standing leg in Tree Pose, beginning with the foot. Remember that changes in the pressure of the standing foot are transmitted to the pelvic core and vice versa. Connect the two regions in the mind. Try the pose in a setting where you can place the hand on a wall for balance (even if you can balance without the wall). Then press the ball of the foot into the mat, and spread the weight evenly across the sole of the foot. Straighten the knee by activating the quadriceps, and be alert for hyperextension. Bend the knee to lower the center of gravity (creating stability), and then straighten back up.
Look at the subplot of the bent leg: the hamstrings activate to bend the knee; the adductor group presses the sole of the foot into the inner thigh of the standing leg; and the hip abductors, gluteals, and deep external rotators contract to draw the knee back and externally rotate the femur. The balance of the pelvis results from the interplay of various muscles that move the hip—the adductors, abductors, extensors, flexors, and rotators. Move up the body to the back and balance the activation of the erector spinae and quadratus lumborum with that of the abdominal muscles on the front body. Draw the shoulder blades toward the midline and down the back. Then activate the pectoralis minor and serratus anterior muscles to lift the chest. Let the head drop back in a relaxed fashion.
Basic Joint Positions
• The standing hip is neutral.
• The standing knee extends.
• The raised-leg hip flexes, abducts, and externally rotates.
• The raised-leg knee flexes.
• The back extends slightly.
• The shoulders abduct and flex overhead.
• The elbows extend.
• The palms flex slightly.
Use a chair or wall for balance. Place the hands on the hips and then in prayer position on the chest. Finally, raise the arms overhead. If you lose your balance, bend your standing leg to lower the center of gravity. Practice poses like Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) to prepare the hip of the lifted leg for flexion, abduction, and external rotation.
Step 1 Flex, abduct, and externally rotate the hip of the...