Standing Tall in Vrksasana

Mumbai-based Tanvi Mehra recommends practising vrksasana to find stability, balance and build a strong foundation for your practice.

Vrksasana is a foundational, standing, balance pose and I love how versatile and accessible it is. I teach this pose to kids, beginners, advanced students, senior citizens and even in my pre and postnatal yoga classes. This basic standing pose can be practised regularly and helps us to build a solid foundation and also increases awareness and focus along with balance and stability, which are important for any asana. 

On a subtle level, the one-legged tree pose brings us tranquility and equanimity by keeping us rooted and centered. I use this posture when I make my students practise the toughest sequences as it prepares them for the practice mentally and stabilises the breath between postures. 

When we plant the sole of the supporting leg’s foot into the floor and draw energy upwards by lengthening our body’s trunk, the spine and the crown of the head, we feel a sense of being grounded. The drishti (gaze), prana (breath) and the gentle engagement of the core muscles are the subtle forces that produce sthirata (stability) and sukha (comfort/joy) in the asana. 

There are several ways to modify this pose to suit our practice. You can use props like a wall or a chair for support until you find the strength to support yourself. You can even experiment with different arm and hand variations. 

When I was studying yoga, one of my teachers asked the entire class to come into vrksasana and then told us to find our centre and stillness while keeping our eyes closed. As soon as we closed our eyes, the entire class fell out of the posture almost instantly, but on the bright side, we couldn’t stop laughing. 

It also taught me to use that technique to check just how focused and balanced I really am and it’s a trick I often use with my students to help delve deeper within themselves to find their steadiness by focusing on the inner gaze. 

Vrksasana strengthens the thighs, calves and spine, enhancing concentration and neuromuscular coordination. It also helps us to understand proprioception (proprioception refers to the body’s ability to perceive its own position in space) which is an essential concept to learn when it comes to any kind of movement. 

The next time you roll out your mat, incorporate vrksasana into your practice and have fun challenging your body and mind in different ways.

Asana to Find Balance and Stillness

Standing Tall in Vrksasana - Tanvi Mehra - Step 1

Vrksasana

Start with your feet together in tadasana (keep your feet parallel). Keep your spine erect and steady your gaze at an unmoving point ahead of you or soften your gaze and by looking at the floor ahead of you. Take a full breath inhaling and exhaling as you prepare to enter the pose.

Standing Tall in Vrksasana - Tanvi Mehra - Step 2

Inhale and place your left hand on your left hip while you grab your right ankle with your right hand to help raise and place the sole of your right foot into your left inner thigh so that the heel of your right foot gently touches the perineum (base of the pelvis). If you’re a beginner, you can try the easier option of placing the right foot on the left calf beneath the knee to find better stability.

Standing Tall in Vrksasana - Tanvi Mehra - Step 3

Inhale and gently draw your palms together into atmanjali mudra (namaste) pressing the thumbs gently into the sternum.

Standing Tall in Vrksasana - Tanvi Mehra - Step 4

Inhale and slowly extend your arms towards the sky maintaining your centre. Your shoulders should gently touch your ear lobes as your arms straighten upwards. Stay here and hold the position for 5 to 10 deep breaths. If you’re a beginner, you can separate your arms and keep them at shoulder width. This will make you feel more comfortable around your neck and shoulders. On an exhalation, exit the pose the same way you entered it by bringing your hands to your heart centre and keeping your left palm on your left hip and using your right hand to release your right foot and move back to tadasana Repeat the pose on the left side.

Tanvi Mehra is a hatha vinyasa teacher based in Mumbai. For her teaching schedules visit, Tangerine Arts Studio.

August 6, 2020
Photos Simon Meier

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