One of the first balancing poses you're going to encounter in yoga is Vrksasana, or Tree Pose. It looks simple, but it can prove to be difficult if you don't get the basics of balancing down pat. To plant strong roots in Tree Pose, a few small changes can make a huge difference in your practice.
- Feet first: You've got to build Tree Pose from the ground up. A solid foundation with your standing leg sets your body up for success. Spread your toes wide to get rooted; all four corners of your foot should have contact with your mat. Only after you've done this should you try to shift your weight into your standing leg and move into the pose.
- Keep calm: If you're worried about falling out of Tree Pose the second you step up into it, it's inevitable that it will happen. Release any unnecessary tension anywhere from your body. I like to open my mouth a few times to make sure I'm not holding any tightness in my jaw. Remember that there's no need to rush into Tree or any other pose — take a few moments to breathe deep and get your bearings together. If you step up with calm confidence, you're far more likely to stick with it.
- Choose a drishti: Your drishti simply refers to your gaze, or where you look in a pose. When you don't have a strong, unwavering point of focus, it's very easy to fall out of any balancing posture in yoga. Choose a spot on the wall in front of you that won't change, don't check out everyone around the room, and commit yourself to the posture.
- Don't force it: Your body may not be ready for the full expression of Tree Pose. There's no need to pass judgment on yourself! Instead of taking your foot above your knee or bringing your arms toward the sky, let your foot gently rest on your calf and continue to press your hands together in prayer. You're still working on building balance, and you'll still reap the benefits of this pose regardless of whatever variation you take.