Sometimes, busy teens need to feel grounded amidst the craziness of daily life. Yoga, the tree pose in particular, is a great way to do just that.
Feel off balance, take a tree.
The mind needs balance just as much as the body, and it can be easily affected by what’s going on in your head on any given day. Mind racing from a hectic day at school? Stressed out over an upcoming test? Tired from a night of restless sleep? Your balance might be off. And that’s ok- take a tree pose.
Tree pose can be simple in that there are only a few steps needed to step into the posture. It may take some to reach the right balance by quieting the mind and shutting out the tension from the day, but doing so can improve both the pose and your emotional wellness.
Tips for Tree Pose:
- First, stand in mountain pose – toes are touching, tailbone is tucked under, the stomach is drawn in and up, palms are facing outward and the shoulder blades are pressed together. Take a couple deep breath, maybe close the eyes, just take the time to shut out distraction and get a sense of really being in your body.
- Take a small step forward, pressing down through all parts of the foot. Think about pouring your weight into the front foot and leg as you step forward.
- Next, draw the back foot to the front ankle or upper thigh, using a hand to guide you if you need. Keep in mind that the foot should never rest of the knee of the standing leg because it will put too much pressure on the knee joint to push outward and can cause injury.
- Press the raised foot into the thigh/ankle and then press the thigh/ankle back into the foot. This counter action is important because it creates tension that will help provide stability.
- Press the palms together in a prayer gesture right in front of the chest. Set your focus on a fixed point in front of you and keep your eyes glued to this spot.
- Make sure not to sink your weight into the standing hip. Think about pressing down from your standing foot and lifting up, sending a long line of energy from the leg out through your fingertips.
- If you feel stable here, you can move your arms in a few ways. You can either reach towards the sky (as in warrior I), press the palms together behind the back in reverse namaste, extend one arm forward and the other arm back, slide your hands to your hips, or keep them at your heart center. Get creative!
- If you crave a bit more support in tree pose, stand with your back against the wall or position yourself beside a wall, about an arm’s length away, so that you can reach out and hold on. There are so many directions you can go in tree pose, so make it your own by creating variations that feel fun and challenging to you.
As a teacher who incorporates tree pose into her classes on a fairly regular basis, whether as a standalone posture or as part of a flowing sequence, I can definitely attest to just how tricky getting into tree pose can be. It can even feel breezy and effortless one day and nearly impossible the next. Balancing on one foot is sometimes easier said than done and isn’t something that can be forced. Faltering in balance postures can feel like failure but really isn’t because a bit of wobbling provides an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves. But think about it- real trees aren’t completely immobile and their branches sway in the wind, so it's okay if we do too.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Tara Cousineau, Ph.D.