Modifying Tree Pose

Balance is so important yet often overlooked.  In essence, balance is about control.  If you think a small child first learning to walk, balance is the key to his/her ability to stay on two feet and move about freely.  Once we learn to balance our bodies at that young age, we then are able to exercise control over our movements.

But balance isn’t just important for toddlers as they are learning to walk.  Balance remains important throughout our lives.  The better balance we have as we age the less likely we are to fall and injure ourselves, not to mention making movement in general easier too.  But if we don’t pay attention to balance, if we don’t work on our balance, we will lose it as we get older.

Fortunately, balance is something we can improve with regular practice.  As we learn good balance, we also improve our agility and strength, helping us to move smoothly and confidently even as we get older.  A good sense of balance and an awareness of your body in relation to all the things around it can help you to react/respond more quickly, thus helping to prevent injuries and falls.

So, what are some ways to practice balance?  Yoga offers numerous poses that can help you strengthen and improve your balance practice.  For this blog we will focus on Tree (Vrksasana) Pose.

Tree pose is a great way to work on maintaining good balance.  And while no special props are needed, it can be modified in many ways.  Below are a few ideas to try out.  And remember the goal of any modification is to help you get deeper into the pose.  There is no right or wrong way to be in a pose – there is only the way in which your body feels and responds best.  Namaste.

Modification ideas:

  • Use of a wall, chair, or other piece of furniture for stability, especially as you are building up your strength and improving your balance at first
  • Foot/leg placement options:
    • Ankle
    • Between ankle and knee
    • Above the knee (in the groin area)
    • Half lotus (on the outside of the thigh)
  • Arm/hand placement options
    • In general, put your hands/arms where you need them to help you with your balance…even if that means it looks like you are doing the motions to the YMCA song. J
    • Prayer hands in front of the heart
    • Hands on hips
    • Arms overhead in a “V” form
    • Arms overhead with fingers interlaced and the index fingers pointing to the sky
    • Arms can be in motion too (sometimes that can add a nice challenge to your balance practice

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