Benefits and Uses
Tree pose is primarily a balancing pose, which is also great for concentration and fun. Practicing balance is important for maintaining/improving sensory-motor function and coordination, and is essential to exercise throughout your life. During pregnancy a woman’s relationship to gravity shifts enormously with her growing belly. Having a steady sense of balance will help her to feel comfortable and stable as her pregnancy progresses. Practicing 'balance' in a bigger-picture context will also help women to balance the different priorities in her life as she prepares for motherhood.
Stand on your mat (or a hard floor for more stability) with your feet together and your arms by your sides. Take a moment to rock slightly back and forth and side to side, in order to find your optimal point of balance and the weight of your body evenly distributed throughout your feet (you may even close your eyes as you do this for heightened sensitivity to your movements). Feel your legs grounding into the earth like tree trunks, strong but free to move fearlessly with any unsteadiness that may come. Pick a focal point in front of you for assistance as you slowly begin to lift one leg from the ground, placing the palm of your lifted foot onto the standing leg. Place the foot anywhere from your calf to your upper inner thigh, but avoid the knee in order to prevent knee injury. Strengthen your standing leg as you feel the opposing force of your leg muscles and foot, each one pressing into the other and creating stability through this interaction. Bring the palms of your hands together at your chest or lift your arms over head like the branches of a tree. Let any unsteadiness sway you and if you lose balance simply try again!
- Breath: Use calming ujjayi breath to help concentration and balance. Evenly inhale and exhale through the nose, with a slight constriction in the back of the throat to create the ocean-sounding effect. Observe how breathing steadily affects your balance and concentration in the tree pose.
- Modifications: Balance may become more challenging in your later pregnancy as your ligaments loosen due to the hormone relaxin. If at any point you feel uneasy, use a chair, table, or other sturdy object for support. Also, keep the lifted foot closer to the floor for less of a challenge.
- Release: To come out of the pose, slowly release your lifted leg from its place on the standing leg, using strength to maintain control as you return it to the ground. Try to let the release be as controlled and steady as possible, which will increase your strength and balance until both feet are on the ground. Shake out the legs and prepare to repeat the pose with the other leg.