One of my favorite vacation poses is Vrksasana or Tree Pose. When you're out in the wilds camping, on a lanai overlooking a Hawaiian sunrise, or even just visiting your parents for the weekend, popping into Tree for a spell is a nice way to realign, get your daily yoga fix and find some balance in your new environment. It's fun, it's pretty easy (except for the balancing part) and it just feels so yoga.
I teach it early, even to complete beginners, because it is easy to assume (modifications next post) and it gets people thinking about alignment. Plus, it's sort of the "international sign of yoga" (every time advertisers want to make a wellness connection with their product, inevitably they pair it with some cute chick doing Tree). Once you've tried it, you know you're in a yoga class.
Some things to think about:
-Yeah, it's a balance pose and is great for ankle strength, but it's also a hip opener. Try to keep your hips square, while still pressing the knee out to the side. There's a tendency to start twisting towards the bent knee, so keep the standing leg strong.
-If you approach it as a hip opener, you don't really need to have your bent knee foot at the top of the thigh. Even with it pressed to the calf or ankle, with the toes on the floor, allows you to square the hips and open the knee to the side. See if that helps with balance issues. When you feel grounded, you can always place the foot higher on the standing leg.
-Find something very still or, even better, nothing to focus on. You are looking, but not seeing, so your awareness is in the standing foot and the spine. My students can hold the pose for quite some time, if I make them turn around and stare at the wall. Try it.
It's week three...how's everybody doing?