Day 3 of our Instagram Challenge brings us, Tree Pose or Vrksasana.  BeachYogaGirl chose a Half Lotus Tree variation in her demonstration which I will not be demonstrating today because it gave me a serious butt cramp when I attempted it.  Remember yogis, it’s all about where you are in your body today.

IMG_0712Above, is a modified version of Tree pose.  Ideally, the heel should be against the upper thigh, but I have tight hips so I brought my foot down to my calf.  You can also bring your toe all the way to the ground if you are having trouble balancing.  Avoid pressing against your knee on your standing leg with your bent leg because that can cause strain on the knee.  Here my hands are in anjali mudra or prayer hands, but there are some nice alternatives if you are looking to spice up your Tree.
IMG_0714This is a great stretch for the wrists.  You may also notice that I have shifted my gaze or drishti upward.  Focusing on a fixed object helps in balancing poses.   I may start by gazing down to get my balance and then look straight ahead or upward.  Also, use of your gaze helps increase focus and attention in yoga, and if you can focus more in yoga…think where else you might be able to focus.  Traffic?  The grocery store?  Who knows?
IMG_0716 IMG_0724Aaahh, my favorite variation.  Hands stretched up with a tiny back bend.

Here are some common issues with Tree pose:

ARG!  Foot Cramps!:  This is caused by gripping the mat with your toes.  Simply take a breath, lift the toes off the mat, and set them down gently.  This is important because you want to build strength in the musculature of the ankles and feet in order to balance.

I’m wobbly!: That is perfectly okay.  The more you wobble, the better you get at balancing.  Make sure you are pushing your standing leg against your bent leg.  The force they put upon one another will make it easier.  With any balancing pose engaging your core helps keep you stable.  Also, give yourself permission to use the furniture or a wall to steady yourself.

The important thing is to not get too caught up in how your tree should look.  I always like to remember that famous Bruce Lee quote, “The stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”  Instead of thinking of your Tree (pose) as wobbly, uncoordinated, or unsteady look at it as just bending with the wind.