|An active extension of vrksasana|
Most people do tree pose by grabbing for their ankle and pulling it up into their inner thigh.
This is a missed opportunity to develop better strength and mobility around your hip joint.
So next time you try vrksasana, why not follow the steps in this post! It will boost your practice I promise.
Below I show the steps of active vrksasana, some extensions of the pose, including a side plank variation.
The video at the end of the post shows live action transitions so you appreciate the movement.
Over time this is the sort of action and movement that will help you come into a pose like padmasana (lotus) without hands.
Transfer weight to one leg (I will call this weight bearing leg, or WBL). Make sure you do not let the hip 'sink' or push out to the side.
Be on toe tip of other leg (I will call this non weight bearing leg, or NWBL).
Roll thigh out of NWBL.
You should feel that the lower part of your butt starts to get firm. If you are not sure then start again and put your hand at the crease of your butt and turn the thigh out again. You should feel it has become firm.
It is enough to stay at this stage. You should feel you are doing active work.
Keeping thigh rolled out, lift knee of NWBL.
Be careful not to sink into WBL hip.
Be careful not to take the knee back. You are just taking it up. It will not (for most people) be directly out to the side.
Actively pull the heel of the NWBL as close to your bottom as possible while keeping thigh rolled out and knee to the side.
Keeping these actions, put the foot into the thigh.
You will find it does not go as high as it normally might but you should feel you are much more active in the posture.
As always, push foot into thigh and thigh into foot.
Extension Step 6
Go further if you like!
Release the foot and take the knee higher while maintaining the thigh rolling out action.
Extension Step 7
Straighten the knee, keeping the NWBL thigh rolling out.
This is tough!!
Extension Step 8
Go back to extension step 6 and take your heel. Push heel into hand and hand into heel .
Straight the leg again.
Here I actively push my heel into my hand as though I am trying to put the leg back on the ground.
Fun Side Plank Variations
You can do active vrksasana variations in side plank!
Be mindful not to sink into the bottom shoulder/armpit. I stay lifted out of it, just as I would stay lifted out of the hip in the standing variation.
Still photos are never great as you cannot see what is happening between one shot and the next. To appreciate the active movement, watch the video below.
Remember, it is always better to work with a teacher.
Move slowly, stretch less, tense less, think less, and breathe less.
No hamstrings or adductor muscles were injured in the making of this video.
This is precisely the type of movement and step-by-step gradation of poses that I teach in class and we will be working on at our retreat in Bali. Sign up before it fills up!
Happy and safe practicing.