Vrksasana/Tree Pose We’ve spent the past few months building strength and flexibility, but with just a couple months before the new year I’d say it’s high time we give some love to another important component of your practice: balance. Why? The truth is that strength and flexibility are nothing without balance. Don’t believe me? Let me put it this way: what good are your toned quads and hammies if you can’t walk in a straight line without falling over? Trust me on this one.

As we age, balance is one of the skills we need most, but often one of the first to go. But before you despair over this cruel irony, know that there’s something you can do about it. You know what they say … practice makes perfect! :)

That’s why the November Pose of the Month is … (drumroll please) …

Vrksasana/Tree Pose Optional: Stand at the wall for added support

1. Begin in Tadasana at the top of your mat. Spread through your toes to widen your foundation and root down firmly through your feet.

2. Raise your R knee in front of you so that it is in line with your R hip (nearly at a 90 degree angle) and slowly begin turn the knee out to your R side, hinging from the hip. From there, place the sole of your R foot on the inside of the L thigh OR on the inside of the L calf, if you have tight hips.

3. Create stability in the pose by pressing the R foot into the standing L leg as much as you are pressing the standing leg into the foot. Maintain this central force toward the midline of the body throughout the pose.

4. Take your hands to your hips and check to make sure they are level from side to side. You may find that the R hip is raised slightly. If that is the case, lower the R hip, so that it is in line with the L one, ensuring that the torso is stacked directly over the hips.

5. Now that the lower body is in the correct position, we can begin to incorporate the arms. Lucky you, there are options!

a. Option 1: Bring your palms together at the center of your chest in prayer position and actively press them in toward one another.

b. Option 2: If you’d like more of a challenge, raise your arms toward the ceiling, being careful to release the shoulders down away from the ears.

c. Option 3: If you are really feeling ambitious, turn your gaze up toward your raised hands.

6. Whether you are looking up or straight ahead, focus your gaze on one still point for the duration of the pose to maintain stability.

7. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Breathe.

8. Return to Tadasana and Repeat Steps #1-7.

Remember: Balancing is a day-to-day thing and it is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. If you fall out of the pose, jump right back in and simply recognize where your body is today. Just have fun with it. After all, tomorrow is a new day!

Happy Turkey Day, Ambitious Yogis!

Namaste, Emilie