trees and knees

Sorry for the hiatus in posts! It has been a hectic couple of weeks as the bf was completing his studying and I was playing housewife :) I can’t say it will be better with summer coming up but I hope to be a bit more consistent with my updates. I have so many ideas for posts (really!) but I just HAD to write another one about yoga.

Tree or Vrksasana is a challenging balance pose with several variations. You stand on one leg while the other leg is with the foot on your standing leg’s inner thigh or calf or in half lotus. Your arms can be in prayer in front of the heart, above your head or outstretched, hands in yoga mudra. The variation that you take is dependent on several factors-your stage of development in that pose, how flexible your hips are, and also just how balanced you are feeling that day. Some days, no matter how hard I try, I cannot balance while my foot is on my upper thigh. However, the one thing I never do is place my foot on my standing knee.

For some reason, tree pose is used in ads to depict yoga, balance, peacefulness, or health of some sort. Unfortunately and frustratingly, I have seen countless pictures in advertisements AND on fitness(!) magazines and sites that display pictures of women in a tree pose with their foot on their knee. My most recent issue of Shape (which I love) had an advertisement with a pretty woman in a tube top swimsuit in a horribly incorrect tree pose. Looking up the words “tree” “pose” “yoga” in Google Images returns several pictures where tree pose is being shown in incorrect form on respectable sites including Fitsugar.com, chopra.com, and theholisticcare.com. There is also a disturbing one of these children at camp where many are doing the pose with their foot on their knees.

The benefits of yoga are wide and varied but a pose must be done correctly. Otherwise, your alignment is off and there is much pain and little gain. When the instructor tells you to get into tree pose, the gym mentality sometimes seeps in and you may think, “Oh well, I can’t get my foot all the way up my thigh, so I’ll put it as high as I can-on my knee-even though the instructor said not to.” When you place your foot on your knee, you are defeating the purpose of yoga in two ways. First and foremost, you are not recognizing, understanding, and respecting your limitations. You didn’t learn how to shoot a 3-pointer in one day, so don’t expect to learn a pose in one day. In basketball, we can only do so much to put the ball into the hoop, but unfortunately, in the case of yoga, we sometimes think we can coax the body into position-leading to a second kind of harm: physical harm. In tree pose, your standing leg already has your entire body weight on it and is trying to keep you upright; when your foot is on your knee, you are not only placing additional weight onto the standing knee but you are putting sideways pressure on it! This pushes your knees in an unnatural position which can cause you to become even more unbalanced. To compensate, you may even lock your knee to try to ensure that you stay standing. You may think that all of these factors are no big deal if you do it once in a while or until you work-up to placing your foot onto your thigh but in reality, you are stressing your knee, as if our knees don’t get abused enough. Please please respect your body, listen to your instructor, and protect your knees.

So until next time,
tree safely

1 comment:

I would like to encourage feedback and opinions (i.e., contributions) from you to this post and Potluck blog!