Tree Pose (Vrksasana) Recap from Fundamentals

vrksasanaSo, I’ve been slacking off on getting my Fundamental Yoga class recaps posted, and since we’re gearing up for our final 5 weeks, I thought I better get a move on!  I am going to try to post on every other day until I’m caught up.  After that, I want to start writing on some other topics including a reoccurring series called “Eat like a Yogi.”  I am excited about that one as I used to have a food blog and miss it, kind of.

Alignment/Tips for Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Stand on your mat with your feet hip distance a part, toes facing forward.  Ground all four corners of your feet into the mat (base of the big toe, inside of the heel, base of the pinky toe, outside of the heel).  Spread your toes.  Feel the energetic lift of your arches reaching all the way to your groin and continuing through the crown of your head.

Begin to switch your weight into your left leg. Lift your right foot off the ground, as you start to bend your knee.  Place your foot on your ankle, calf or thigh (never the knee) as you open your knee out to the right.

For added support, press your foot into your standing leg and your leg into your foot (this is easier if done with the foot on the calf or thigh as the ankle may not feel stable enough).  This will help to create a new focus for balance.  From that place lengthen all the way through the crown of your head.  Bring your hands together in prayer position.  Relax through your shoulders, drawing the shoulder blades together to create openness in the chest.  Make sure your ribs aren’t pushing out.  Gently draw your belly button in towards your spine.  Breathe.  Once you feel stable grow your branches by raising your arms out over head.

If you can, practice in front of a mirror, notice if as you place your right foot on your calf, did your right hip hike up?  If so, work to lower that hip so it is even with the left side.  I worked with one lady who experienced the opposite.  Her right hip actually lowered and she had to work to raise that hip.

In class I was asked about the lifted leg being completely parallel with the rest of the body. (Think about standing up against a wall and your whole lifted leg being flesh against the wall.)  This is something that could happen over time as psoas muscles and hips begin to release the more you practice yoga.  Or, it may never happen as everyone’s bodies are different.  For now, work on your balance and even hips.

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Finding Your Energetic Balance

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This month in my Hatha classes we’re working on balance.  Funny, since I am finding balance to be somewhat difficult to obtain these days.  Not physically, I actually have a rather good sense of balance (except when in Uttitha Hasta Padagustasana and scanning the class to see how my students are doing).

My lack of balance is more mental than anything.

I just feel like there are 1000 and one things I need/want to do in a day, and I can’t seem to resurrect my college-like, Cume Laude time management skills.  There are the things I need to do: toddler care, cleaning, errands, running a yoga business, yard work, cooking, etc.  There are the things I want to do: raise a smart/intelligent/godly daughter; home yoga practice; read God’s word; yoga blog; not just cooking but planning and prepping; cardio; write a novel; study anatomy; read for pleasure; scrapbook;  renovate my home; organize; etc; etc; etc.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh! *pulls hair out*

“When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.” –Tao Te Ching

I giggled when I found the above quote while searching for some inspiration for my balancing practice. In yoga we often balance with only one foot on the ground, or maybe just our hands on the ground.  So how does this apply to yoga or to life?

In specific yoga asanas when we don’t have both feet on the ground, we can utilize other “feet.”  For example, our breath, core strength or imagining a flexed foot is pressing against the ground or wall are all stabilizers.  We can also use props, allowing these tools to become an extension of self.

Finding mental balance in this out of sorts world may not be so easy.  One place to begin keeping our “mental” feet on the ground is by letting go of our attachment to perfection.   Maybe letting go of our attachment to perfection means literally letting go of something or many things on our to-do list.  Or perhaps, it means letting go of what we need to achieve in a day.

“Don’t hold on too long, but don’t let go too soon.  Find a balance” –Morrie Swartz

For me, it’s time to take a deep breath and let go of my perfection while still holding on to my core values.  Even if I don’t balance everything perfectly every day, at least I can come to my mat or my breath or prayer and just let go.

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