How to Do Tree Pose (Vrksasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

How to Do Tree - Vrksasana
Tree Pose - Vrksasana. Ann Pizer

Targets: Legs, core, balance

Level: Beginner

Tree Pose (Vrksansana) is usually the first standing balance pose that is taught to yoga beginners because it's the simplest. Keep your sense of humor about learning to stand on one leg. It's harder than it looks at first and will be different every day. Don't get frustrated if you are tippy and fall over at first. If you are building a sequence around Tree Pose, start with some seated hip openers such as Cobbler's Pose and Eye of the Needle Pose to prepare you.

Benefits

Tree Pose strengthens your legs and core while opening your hips and stretching your inner thighs and groin muscles. One of yoga's biggest benefits is that it helps you build better balance, which helps with any number of other physical activities. It's often touted by professional athletes as the yoga advantage, and as you age it becomes more of an issue. Good balance and a strong core will go a long way in helping you stay active and healthy.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Come to stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your hands in Anjali mudra at your heart center. 

  1. Take a moment to feel both your feet root into the floor with your weight distributed equally on all four corners of each foot.
  2. Begin to shift your weight into your right foot, lifting your left foot off the floor. Keep your right leg straight but don't lock the knee.
  3. Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot high onto your inner right thigh. 
  4. Press your foot into your thigh and your thigh back into your foot with equal pressure. This will help you keep both hips squared towards the front so your right hip doesn't jut out.
  5. Focus your gaze (Drishti) on something that doesn't move to help you keep your balance.
  6. Take five to 10 breaths, then lower your left foot to the floor and do the other side.

Common Mistakes

Hip Position

The most important thing to work on in Tree is making sure that the pressure of your lifted foot on your standing leg doesn't cause that side's hip to stick out. The hips should stay as square as possible, just as if you still have both feet on the floor in Mountain Pose.

Foot Position

Be careful to avoid placing the left foot directly on the side of the right knee since that puts your joint in a vulnerable position.

Knee Position

Make sure that your left knee doesn't creep forward toward the center line. Keep it pointing to the left.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

If your left foot doesn't come easily to the upper right thigh, bring it lower on the right leg. The right calf is a good option. You can even put the left foot on your right ankle and keep your left toes on the floor like a little kickstand if that's the best fit for your body.

Use the wall for balance if necessary. You can lean your butt against the wall or turn so that your left knee comes in contact with the wall when it's in its lifted position. 

Up for a Challenge?

Lift your arms up towards the ceiling. You can bring the palms to touch or keep your hands separated. Making a V shape with the arms is another option.

If you feel pretty comfortable in the pose, try closing the eyes and see if you can stay balanced. Be OK with falling out and coming back up.

Bring your left leg into a Half-Lotus position by pressing the top of your left foot into your right hip crease. To take it even one step further, reach your left hand behind your back and take a bind with your left big toe.

Safety and Precautions

If you have balance problems, use caution with this pose and do it near a wall where you can support yourself as needed. This pose is not recommended if you have a knee or hip injury.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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