The Tree

The Tree is a variation of a classic yoga pose. Because it requires you to balance, it exercises your ability to concentrate. On the physical side, it stretches the back of your spine and works your triceps. The Tree is a good exercise for women because it works the sometimes-flabby muscles on the back of the arms.

As you do this exercise, it helps to imagine that you're a tree growing sturdy roots in the earth. Focus your energy on your balance, and throughout the exercise, draw your belly in and up and your tailbone down for balance and support.

Grab one hand weight for this exercise and follow these steps:

1. Stand with your feet below your hips, your toes pointing forward, your hands at your hips, and the weight in your right hand, palm facing inward.

Make sure your spine is erect. No slouching allowed!

2. Using your left hand for assistance, lift your left foot and tuck it into your right inner thigh (see Figure 11-1a).

If you can't tuck your foot into your thigh, press it directly above or below your knee, or place it on your right ankle. Imagine that you're attaching your foot to your leg, knee, or ankle by Velcro.

Press into all four corners of your right foot for stability.

3. Grab the weight with both hands and move it above and then behind your head while you continue to look forward (see Figure 11-1b).

This is the starting position. Bring your armpits back as far as you can; feel them stretching.

4. Exhaling to a count of four, straighten your arms as you raise the weight over your head (see Figure 11-1c).

As best you can, keep your elbows beside your ears as you raise the weight. Press your arms toward the ceiling; don't swing them.

5. Inhaling to a count of four, bend your elbows back and lower the weight behind your head to the starting position (see Figure 11-1b).

Maintain your elbows' positions beside your ears.

If you have trouble balancing, stand next to a wall and press the knee of your bent leg into the wall. This way, you balance without fear of falling and focus on your belly, spine, and arm action.

Repeat this exercise six to eight times on each leg, take a rest, and then do six to eight more repetitions on each leg.

Figure 11-1:

Root yourself like a tree while you work your triceps and back.

Lessons in Raja Yoga

Lessons in Raja Yoga

An easy to understand book on the principles and practices of Raja-Yoga alike. It teaches the eight steps

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