Probably the most basic balancing pose in Yoga is the Tree Pose or the Vrikshasana. It is a core yoga position that is practiced even in advanced yoga. It is the perfect pose to develop physical balance and agility. Aside from balance, it also strengthens the legs and improves the flexibility of the hips and shoulders. However, due to the pressure on the knees and the hips, it is not recommended for those who have undergone chronic knee or hip injuries.
The tree pose is usually the first pose that we do when we start with our balancing poses. We start off with the mountain pose where we stand with our feet together, hands relaxed on the side, the spine is straight and we are facing forward. Inhale and lift right foot with your hands and place it on the inside of your left thigh, as near to the groin as possible with the knee facing the right side. Once you have managed your footing and balance, inhale and place your hands in prayer position on your chest. Keep looking forward — I find it easier when I concentrate on a specific point in front of me, keeping my eyes on it while I do the pose. After a few breaths, raise your hands over your head. Stay in this pose for about 3 minutes and concentrate on your breathing and your posture. Then lower your hands first, then your foot to get out of the pose. Do the same thing on the opposite leg.
Beginners usually start with their foot resting on side of the knee or even lower and their hands maintained in prayer position on their chest. To progress, keep raising your feet higher whenever you do the pose until your heel is touching the joint of your leg and your groin. When you have managed to raise your hands over your head, try to push your arms at the back of your ears to keep them straight and improve flexibility to your shoulders.
More than improving balance and building strength on your legs, the tree pose helps in mental concentration.