PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: TREE POSE
by Isabel Allen, Yoga Instructor
Just for 30 seconds
Stand on both feet
Close your eyes and pay attention to soles of your feet
Okay. Welcome back.
Kinda crazy right? The constant shifting of weight from toes to heels, from left to right. Balancing on both feet is strangely hard. It is, however, the most stable way to stand because our bodies have become conditioned to adjust when we move away from our equilibrium. We have literally practiced standing since before we could speak. Therefore, we no longer have to consciously make the adjustment back to center. Our bodies just do it.
You’d think after years and years of practice, standing on both feet would require no effort to at all. But it does.
And that’s just standing still on both feet. Every time we take a step, we essentially balance on one foot. We don’t think of walking as practicing balance, because … we do it all the time.
So let’s practice.
Find your balance on both feet
Lift one foot off the ground
Now close your eyes
Notice the sole of your standing foot
The muscles in your ankle
The clenching of your toes
Unless you are some sort of ninja bodhisatva, you didn’t get anywhere near 30 seconds before you had to step down.
Let’s talk running.
Running is basically really, REALLY fast walking and therefore requires even more balance. Running asks us to move quickly with active minds and shifting bodies. With all that is going on, there’s an increased risk of losing balance. One misstep and boom! We can fall, scrap a knee, or deal with injury.
Injuries suck. But they happen. One of the most common running injuries is an ankle sprain, which directly correlates to ankle strength and (you guessed it) balance.
Even if you have not dealt with falling or ankle sprains or feeling out of wack, balance postures commonly seen in yoga improve other areas of our physical and mental well-being. They help increase our self-awareness, our leg strength, and our core activation. I call that a win-win-win.
Let’s talk balance.
You can improve your balance the same way you improve anything: practice.
There’s no magic pill or special diet that will improve your balance. You have to do the work.
Running is work. Every time you run, you get better.
Balancing is work. Every time you balance, you get better.
Let’s practice some yoga.
Tree Pose is one of my favorite poses for several reasons:
- It is easy to get into and doesn’t require advanced skills or flexibility.
- It’s always a challenge regardless of your skill level.
- You can practice it anywhere.
- It improves your balance, strengthens your legs and increases your hip mobility.
So, let’s try this together.
Bring the sole of your right foot to your inner left calf
Engage your low abdomen
Root down through your left heel (just like a tree!)
Press the sole of your foot into your inner left leg and your inner left leg into the sole of your foot. (equal and opposite force)
Grow tall through your arms as you extend them to the sky (like branches!)
Then switch legs
Use your right toes as a kickstand, so just the heel is touching the left leg.
Draw your right foot higher on the inseam of your left thigh. Try closing your eyes. Or do both!
That is it. So practice, practice, practice. Start with 15 - 20 seconds x 3 rounds per side. Then slowly add more time as your start to feel control over your legs and the strength of your core radiating our through your limbs.
Isabel Allen is a rockstar instructor and an integral member of our Community Relations team at YoYoYogi.
Isabel believes in Power Vinyasa Yoga, because it pulls everything together. It forces you to be intensely present, work hard, and feel things. When things get hard, there is room for growth, expansion and opportunity. Individuals have the choice of how hard and how far to push themselves. That is where the true beauty lies. In yoga and in life, you get out of it exactly what you put into it. Isabel chooses to practice with a sense of joy and gratitude. In turn, this the fuel to the fire of her practice.
YoYoYogi is a locally-owned, family-run studio in the heart of the Pearl District. Since opening the doors in 2010, this studio has become Portland’s chosen place for mind-bendin’, body-stretchin’, peace-providin’ yoga. Just last year, YoYoYogi was recognized as one of the top 10 studios in the nation!
Yoga only for the bendy, skinny, pretzel variety? Ha! Not at YoYoYogi. This studio calls loudly for the young and old, thick and thin, big dudes and tiny Grandmas everywhere! It’s a place where all can gather to practice, play, learn, grow, laugh, and share.
At YoYoYogi, many of the best teachers in Portland come together under one beautiful, historic roof to bring you their unique and always awesome brand of yoga. Hot or Not. Power to Restorative. Beginner to Advanced. With 20 teachers, 50+ classes, wide variety of yoga, there is something for everyone!
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