Today we are going to learn a balancing posture called tree pose. It is called tree pose because you will be standing on one tall leg like a tree trunk, and you can make beautiful branches grow out from your trunk with your arms. To balance in this pose, it is important to breathe and keep your attention on the present moment.
We will start by finding our mountain pose- do you remember this from another activity? To find mountain pose we will bring our big toes to touch with our feet pointing forward. See if you can notice all ten toes lifting up and spreading out wide before setting them back down again. Make your spine long and tall by reaching the top of your head up to the ceiling and rolling your shoulders down your back. Turn the palms of your hands to face forward and spread your fingers really wide just like you did with your toes. You are now in mountain pose. Take three deep breaths here: filling up your belly on the in-breath, and emptying your belly on the out-breath.
From your mountain pose, begin to pay extra attention to your right leg and foot. See if you can press a little more into your right foot to make your right leg really strong like a tree trunk. Once your right foot and leg feel strong, begin lifting your left foot just a tiny bit off of the ground. Notice your balance here. If you are wobbly, try reaching your arms out to the sides. When you do this, also press your right foot into the ground even more to make your right leg even stronger.
Once you have found your balance, lift your left leg up a little higher and bring the left foot to the inside of the calf or thigh of your standing leg. Your left knee will be turned out to the side. Your balance and flexibility can help you choose how high your foot goes- just make sure that it is not directly on your knee. Both versions are tree pose, and neither is better than the other. When you have found your balance, bring your hands to your hips. If you still feel balanced here, slowly bring your hands up into the air. You can imagine that your arms are growing up and out like branches from your tree trunk. You can also decide what you have on your branches. Maybe there are flowers or leaves, or even some birds or ladybugs.
Once you have found the version of tree pose that feels best in your body, let your eyes find something in front of you to focus on. The thing you choose to focus on should not move (so not a person). Let your eyes gently focus on this object, and begin to find your breath. Let your inhale make you taller and your exhale root your right foot into the ground, making your right leg even stronger.
Continue with this pattern of breathing for 10 more rounds.
At the end of your 10th exhale, you can slowly take your left foot off of your right leg, turn your left knee forward, and bring the foot down to the ground. Shake out your legs if they are tired and then come back to meet everyone in mountain pose.
Repeat instructions for opposite foot and leg (substitute left leg for right leg and right foot for left foot).
Teacher’s note: tree pose is a great way to generate focus and balance. The challenging nature of the pose forces kids to be present and pay attention to what is going on in that moment. This is a good pose to use when trying to reign in concentration
Students: tree pose is good practice to help you pay more attention to the present moment. If you notice your mind traveling in many directions, or want to concentrate on something for school, you can try tree pose to help create that concentration.