Walking is calculated falling. Standing is a miracle. Standing on one leg is insane. – THEYOGADOER
If you have attended any of my classes, you have heard me say that a million times. Before each Tree, I ask my class to close their eyes while standing in a modified version of Tree in which both feet are on the ground.
Without fail, people start smiling, giggling, and reaching their arms out for balance even though one foot is firmly planted on the ground and the toes of the other foot are still grounded as well.
There is some hard work going on each time we stand in Tree pose. By hard work, I do not mean impossible work or that struggling is involved. I am just acknowledging our organic machinery and the fine work it does for us in Tree pose and every day.
Some Me Some Muscle
TREE POSE = VRKSASANA
vrksa meaning tree
From the ground up, our muscles are stabilizing and balancing us doing the good work to keep us upright.
The red arrow at the bottom of Fancy Diagram A is pointing to the balljoint of the big toe which is firmly planted on the ground.
Our feet are amazing tools, and there is much to learn about them. In the meantime, know that pressing down through the foot activates the muscles in your legs just by doing its job: pressing down into the ground.
The arrow pointing to what is commonly referred to as the calf muscle is not just pointing to one giant muscle. You have all kinds of muscles working in there!
Refer back to Bob.
The Gastrocnemus and Soleus muscles work together to create the balance. Barefoot runners are very familiar with the Soleus muscles. When you start a barefoot or minimalist running regimen, your Soleus muscles catch on fire and then amazing turn to stone. Basically, if you over do it, you can’t walk properly for a couple of days afterward.
This is why Tree pose is important for all runners and walkers: to build the muscles needed for natural walking and running patterns.
As we move up the body, the External Obliques (see the circle in Fancy Diagram A and reference Bob) engage sliding the upper body so that the pubic bone lines up over the standing leg creating a straight line from crown to foot. That is when the magic of balance happens.
Remember that yoga is personal: Every body is different. Every. Body. Two words.
Just as that statement is true, it is also true that there is a lot more and a lot less to this pose than I just described.
Each instructor and wellness professional has different takes and different ways of teaching. That is why it is so important to work with different instructors, wellness pros, and health care professionals as you go on this journey of education.
Listen to all of the information, gather facts, and data. Form your own opinions and acknowledge the difference between truths and practices. And for the love of all things sweet and fruity, don’t take anything too serious. Enjoy the education and the experience of learning.
Recommended Reading on Anatomy and Physiology