Tree pose is definitely one of my top ten favorite yoga poses. I love it when I feel totally balanced and can lift my hands up over my head and spread them out in a V. I push my lifted leg out farther, stand a little taller, and reach my arms up as far as I can. I feel like a tree flowing in the wind, my branches ready to bring in all the possibilities of life. It is so affirming.
When I began yoga I had horrible balance, so I started tree pose by just resting one of my feet up on my toes on the floor. When I started to feel more stable, I moved my foot slowly up my shin but always below my knee. Moving my foot up above my knee was just too risky; I’d lose my balance and wobble all over the place.
So today—I’m not sure why (maybe it was because there were only a few people in class to see me fall on my face), but I just decided to go for it, and I grabbed my foot and pulled it up above my knee and rested it there. Whoa! I immediately had to reach over to a wall to firm up my balance and then pushed myself back up straight. I could have abandoned the pose right then and there, but I held on and got my stability back and just stood there in all my glory with my foot above my knee in tree pose. Woohoo! I did it! Well, not quite; I still needed to lift my arms above my head and was wondering if I should even attempt it. Sure, why not? Go for it, I said and I raised my branches up into the air and experienced my full expression of tree pose. It was even easier the second time on the left side than it was on the right side.
So, the moral of the story is: Don’t be afraid to try new (more challenging) variations of a pose. When you’re ready give it a shot. Don’t be afraid of falling; you’ve got nothing to lose, and you may just find that you’ve graduated into another level of your yoga practice.