In celebration of Arbor Day this Friday, I can't help but think about the peaceful and majestic Tree pose. If you've mastered the basic pose already, here are some ways to challenge your Tree.
- Arch: When doing the traditional Tree pose, balancing your torso straight over your standing leg allows you to stack your bones on top of each other to create a stable pose. Make balancing on one leg harder by leaning toward your bent knee, resting your forearm on your thigh, and gazing up toward the ceiling. Aside from strengthening your legs, you'll also feel a deep stretch on the side of your torso.
- Twist: While in Tree pose, twist toward your bent leg, resting the opposite hand on the outside of your knee. Extend your other hand behind you and gaze over your shoulder for a nice spinal twist.
- Stretch the upper back: Traditionally, the palms are pressed together in front of your heart center, or the arms are lifted overhead. For a variation, cross one elbow over the other and then bring your palms together, just as in Eagle pose. This variation offers a wonderful stretch for the upper back and shoulders.
- Turn your Tree on its side: The next time you're in Sage (side plank), balancing on your hand and the outside edge of your flexed foot, lift the leg that's on top into the air, bend the knee, and — you guessed it — come into Tree. This variation, appropriately named Sage Tree, targets your upper body, core, and hips all at the same time.
- Close your eyes: While in regular Tree, or while trying one of the above variations, try closing your eyes. It allows you to bring your awareness inward and focus on your breath, which can help you stay balanced.