MANTRA MONDAY: ASANA SPOTLIGHT TREE POSE
An expert weighs in on mastering one of yoga’s most important poses.
IT’S AN IMPORTANT habit to rotate your ankles in both directions everyday for strength and mobility. Try making as big a circle as possible with your foot, pushing the limits of your flexibility. You should feel a stretch as you move your ankle around. Don’t get discouraged if you have very little mobility because it will get easier and your range of movement will increase if you continue to open up the joint. Point your toe and stretch the front of your ankle, then flex your foot, stretching the Achilles tendon, and then move your foot from side to side. Feel yourself opening up the joint. After you have stretched the joint and loosened it up, it’s time to strengthen it…
Tree pose (vrksasana) is an amazing, simple asana that improves your balance and strengthens all of the tendons of the ankle. To come into tree pose, stand with your feet together and really stand up, stomach engaged, chest opening, shoulders on the back in a powerful, yoga type of standing called mountain pose (tadasana). Focus your gaze on one point to help steady your balance and begin to move your weight into one of your legs. Pick up the other foot, open the knee to the side and place the sole of that foot on the inner thigh of the opposite leg. If your foot doesn’t reach the inner thigh, you can place it below the knee, but be careful to avoid placing the foot against the knee which can be harmful. You can even keep the ball of your foot down and have knee aiming out and heel resting on the standing leg’s ankle. Press down through the standing foot and feel the body lifting up through the solid connection to the earth. Maintain the uplift and openness of your chest that you established in tadasana without over arching the lower back. Bring the hands into prayer position or try reaching them up, shoulder width, palms facing towards each other. Bring your attention to your ankles and feel them getting stronger. Do this pose on the both legs, and try holding for as long as you can, or at least 10 slow, steady and deep breaths.