Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500 speaks to you in this short lecture about the importance of proper alignment, making adjustments to students, and modifications with props in Tree Pose. What should Yoga teachers know about Tree Posture?

Tree is one of the most well-known and easily accessible balancing postures of yoga. This simple yoga posture helps a student to improve his or her balance, coordination and the ability to focus on a gazing point, or drishti. Tree also releases muscular tension throughout the shoulder girdle, neck and upper arms. In addition, this asana opens the hips and effectively strengthens the legs. A regular practice of Tree Pose can also illuminate a student’s mental state.

Although Tree is technically simple posture, it very quickly uncovers a state of either equanimity or mental unrest, because it is very difficult to balance in Tree if the student’s mind is distracted or unfocused. Tree Posture is accessible to most yoga students unless a student is contending with knee injuries or problems with balance due to a brain injury, such as a concussion. As a certified yoga teacher, one of your primary responsibilities is to ensure your students’ safety while they are practicing with you in class, by instructing them on the proper alignment of the postures.

In Tree Pose, it is critical that your students do not place the sole of their foot directly on the knee joint of the other leg. Doing so can result in a knee injury. The proper placement of the foot is either above or below the knee joint, depending on the student’s level of flexibility. If any of your students are struggling with significant balancing issues, you can employ the use of yoga props in order to facilitate their practice of Tree Pose without the risk of falling and injuring themselves. Two very simple yoga props to help your students balance in Tree are the back of a chair and the wall.

If necessary, using one of these yoga props will allow your yoga students to cultivate their sense of balance in the posture without risking injury. As a professional yoga teacher, it is important that you are aware of any physical limitations or injuries that your students may have such as physical difficulties stemming from a concussion sustained during a car accident. In addition, some of your students may be living with an underlying illness, such as multiple sclerosis, which profoundly affects balance.

Since underlying medical conditions may not be immediately visible, it is recommended that you ask new yoga students to let your know about any health issues or concerns they are currently living with. A professional and confidential way of doing this is by asking each new student to fill out a health questionnaire when they first begin coming to the studio to practice with you. Over time, a regular practice of Tree Posture will help your students to improve their balance, overall coordination, and leg strength.

Another wonderful aspect of practicing Tree posture is the often overlooked aspect of the posture to metaphorically reflect your yoga students’ ability to root into the earth beneath them. In other words, this relatively simple balancing asana will very quickly uncover how your students balance between the earth and the sky above. As your students root down into Tree Posture and extend their upper bodies into the heavens, you may wish to remind them of the exquisite balance between reaching up to the sky above, as they ground into the earth below.

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