THE ASANAS Standing
Tree pose builds static balance
, which can be
facilitated by allowing a smooth and steady breath and
focused mind. In this iconic yoga pose, unsteadiness
is completely natural. Wobbling means you are
strengthening muscles key for joint stabilization.
THE BIG
PICTURE
Large muscles in your standing thigh
and lower leg engage to give your body
a stable base. Muscles in your torso and
on your raised thigh work to keep your
leg lifted and rotated outward.
Your upper body remains
neutral and stable.
TREE
Vrksasana
Torso
Your spinal extensors and
transversus abdominis
engage to
elongate and stabilize your spine into
its neutral curves. Your
rhomboids
and middle and lower trapezius
engage to retract your scapulae.
Arms
Your brachialis, biceps, and
brachioradialis ex your elbows
while your pectoralis major
helps to adduct your shoulders.
Your wrist exors stretch, while
your wrist extensors engage as
you rmly press your palms
together at your sternum.
VARIATION
Raising your arms
overhead shifts your
center of gravity higher.
Challenge your balance
further by lifting your
gaze. You may also hold
your ams in a wide V.
Arms raised
over head
Rhomboids
Spinal extensors
Spine
Rectus abdominis
Transversus abdominis
Pectoralis major
Wrist
Shoulder
Brachialis
Biceps brachii
Triceps brachii
Elbow
Hip
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111
Standing
lower leg
Your ankle is stabilized
by the engagement of your
dorsiexors, along with toning
your plantar exors and bularis
muscles to resist gravity, nding
center as you sway.
Lifted thigh
Your hip exors engage
and your hip is externally
rotated by your deep six
muscles, sartorius, and
gluteus maximus. Your
quadriceps and adductors
stretch as your hamstrings
engage to ex your knee,
keeping it from falling down.
Standing thigh
Your standing thigh is active with
the engagement of your glutes and
tensor fasciae latae to stabilize
around your hip. Your quadriceps
extend and stabilize your knee, and
your hamstrings engage slightly
while in a stretched position to resist
gravity as you sway in the pose.
ALIGNMENT
Your body weight is stacked
over your standing leg,
which provides a stable base.
Your center of gravity shifts
to your lower abdomen on
the side of your raised leg.
Neutral spine
Hands held
at central line
of body
Knee to
side
Knee soft, not
locked straight
Standing
foot bears
body weight
Center of gravity
in lower abdomen
Gaze
forward
Knee
Semitendinosus
Rectus femoris
Semimembranosus
Adductor magnus
Adductor longus
Adductor brevis
Sartorius
Pectineus
Gluteus maximus
Hip
Tensor fasciae latae
Gluteus maximus
Semimembranosus
Vastus medialis
Vastus lateralis
Rectus femoris
Knee
Gastrocnemius
Tibialis anterior
Extensor hallucis longus
Extensor digitorum longus
Soleus
Fibularis muscles
Ankle
KEY
Joints
Muscles
Engaging
Engaging while
stretching
Stretching
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TREE
Vrksasana
CLOSER LOOK
Tree pose stabilizes your hips in a unique position. Holding
the pose increases body awareness, particularly in the sole
of your standing foot. Breathe steadily and focus.
Deep six
To rotate your hip out to the side you engage a set
of six small muscles deep within your hip joint. Strong
standing poses, such as Tree, dynamically stretch and
strengthen the deep six external rotators. To get a
deeper stretch in these muscles, try stretches like
King Pigeon (see pp.80–83).
Upper trapezius
relaxes
Ligaments around
your ankles help
to stabilize
Hamstrings engage
to maintain
balance
Spinal extensors
engage to maintain
posture
Glutes engage
strongly to keep
hips aligned
Hip abductors
If you are not engaging your
hip abductors, particularly
your gluteus medius, on your
standing thigh, your hip will
hike out. This is tough for
balance and a common
bad postural habit you
may mindlessly do. To
counteract this, press
your standing hip in,
bringing your pelvis
to neutral.
Hip shifts
outward
Good
posture
Quadriceps
lengthen as
knee flexes
Piriformis
Superior
gemellus
Internal
obturator
Inferior
gemellus
Quadratus
femoris
Foot and thigh press
into each other with
equal and opposite force
Biceps brachii
engage as
hands are held
at the heart
POSTERIOR VIEW
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THE ASANAS
Standing
Breath and concentration
Notice if you tend to hold your breath, which
is common in balancing poses. Holding your
breath builds up carbon dioxide in your
system. When your cells get irritated enough,
they alert the respiratory center of your brain
that you are in distress. Breathing steadily
here calms your nervous system.
Transversus
abdominis engages to
stabilize your core
Toes are spread
and relaxed
Triceps brachii
engage slightly with
your biceps brachii
Palms press in toward
each other
Pelvic alignment
You are not trying to point your knee directly to the
side, as your hip will probably not allow it. Plus, trying
to do that puts your pelvis out of alignment. Instead,
keep your hip facing forward with your knee angled at a
comfortable diagonal for your unique bone structure.
Focus
Airway
Lungs hold
carbon dioxide
Calf muscles engage
to provide support
Knee is not directly
to the side but at a
comfortable angle
Knee is angled
forward
Pelvis aligns
over foot
Hip points face
forward
Cerebellum
receives
signals
Nerve
signals
to brain
Center of pelvis
approximately over
standing foot
Focus on center
line of your body
to aid balance
Weight is balanced
across standing foot
ANTERIOR–LATERAL VIEW
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