Tree Pose rules. Standing balances in general are pretty awesome but tree pose in particular appeals to me because it is fairly contained so it can be easier to pay attention to details than in say warrior three or ardha chandrasana. Plus, everyone can do some version of tree pose as long as there is a wall nearby.
A specific appeal of tree pose to me as a teacher is that this one legged balance is a great indicator of what you do when standing on two legs. Tree pose tends to magnify all of our postural imbalances and we can use it to make major changes to our posture.
People usually fall into similar patterns in tree pose. Depending on the tone of the pelvic muscles, two things are likely to happen to the pelvis as soon as the lifted foot hits the standing inner thigh. The pelvis might hike up on the lifted leg side and/or rotate backwards (hip hike will be the subject of another post).
Of course I couldn’t possibly write a post without harping on tucking the pelvis but unfortunately this is a hallmark of tree pose. If you tuck the pelvis when standing it is highly likely that you will do the same in tree pose. When the pelvis tucks under the standing thigh leans forward. And if you can hyperextend your knee that will happen as well.
When people do tree pose the way I want them to they often feel very odd. Most students don’t realize that their pelvis has turned to the back and what I think is standing straight up and down often feel like the upper body is leaning far forward– though this is often the result of the head coming forward which is an often an unfortunate corollary of changing one’s posture and patterns.
Try coming into tree pose and lining up the hip points in the same plane. The stick your butt out and get your standing leg directly under your hip creating a crease in the groin area. Check for hyperextension of the knee and finally, lean forward a tiny bit turning the front ribs down and in.
Do tree pose in front of a mirror checking yourself out from the front and either side. What you see might be a revelation that starts you on the road to change.