One of my favorite poses in yoga is Tree Pose. It combines everything there is to love about yoga: strength, flexibility and balance.
Tree Pose helps with the muscles we use in walking, specifically in ‘mid stance’, the position when one leg is on the ground and the other is swinging to make the next step. During ‘mid stance,’ the primary muscles engaged are the butt (gluteal) muscles consisting of: [glute] medius and minimus as well as the half-hip half-leg muscle tensor fascia latae.
These butt muscles work together to help stabilize the pelvis and prevent it from dropping to the opposite side. If these muscles are weak, specifically gluteus medius, then you will have trouble stabilizing the pelvis, resulting in anything from localized hip pain to lower back pain or even knee and ankle issues.
By learning how to keep the balancing leg in the midline and not let the hip swing out to the side in Tree Pose, you engage the muscles used in the ‘mid stance’ and more specifically on gluteus medius.
There are four main actions to focus on in Tree Pose:
1) Balance the weight evenly on your standing foot
2) Lift your knee cap to engage your standing leg quad
3) Firm the muscles of your outer hip to keep your standing leg perpendicular
4) Engage your lower abdomen and use your core to balance
A common mantra around my studio is that “the body is smart and it will find the path of least resistance.” It is your job to NOT allow it surrender to path of least resistance. So stand up tall on one leg and change your gait by changing your posture.
Lilith Bailey-Kroll is the founder of Yoga Is My Health Insurance (YIMHI). She was introduced to yoga in her teens to address physical discomfort from scoliosis, which has greatly improved with the regular practice of yoga. Because of her own experience, she has a compassionate approach to teaching others and helping all students with their personal physical challenges. Lilith began teaching yoga in 1999 after completing a teacher-training program at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco. And, in 2006 opened her first clinic as a yoga therapist. She blends her years of experience and wealth of knowledge in anatomy, physiology and biomechanics with the physical practice of yoga and breathing techniques in teaching for YIMHI.