Hip Trees

Being at the intersection between the upper and lower body, places the hip in its own category of importance. This joint not only permits the proper mechanics of the legs and upper body, but also allows the transmission of forces between one another.
Therefore, its functionality is integral both to the spine, as well as the knees and feet.
Common among the multitude of poses, yet so seldom are the anatomical details illuminated, as that of Vrikshasana-Tree Pose (Pic 1)
In a world where reinventing the proverbial “wheel” seems to be the the tool by which an individual can stand out and assert their own uniqueness, tinkering with the arthrokinematics of a joint for the sake of indulgence in something “different”, can bring more trouble than its worth.
This is where the placement of the lifted leg either supports the underlying structure of the hip, or not. The instruction that is all too prevalent when it comes to this leg, is to bring it onto the same plane as the pelvis.
This is problematic, as it is incompatible with the angle that the human hip joint’s bone structure is meant to articulate.
In pic (3) the hip model shows the position of the hip joint when the leg is forced to come in alignment with the plane of the pelvis. The blue parts of the model are the joint surfaces that are meant to be in contact, to ensure what is called joint “congruency”, which allows stability and therefore longevity. When these parts of the joint come out of contact with each other, the inherent function is compromised, and if carried on long enough, catastrophe ensues. To avoid this, the following 2 criteria cannot be overstated:

  •  placing the sole of the lifted foot on the inseam of the standing leg (instead of at the front of the hip)
  • allowing the angle of the lifted leg to be oblique to (and not parallel) the front of the pelvis (Pic 2 & 4)

What is important to remember here is that the function of Tree Pose is to learn how to balance on one leg. It is expressly the actions of the standing leg, and its relationship to the foot resting upon it, where the majority of the calories burnt in this pose should be directed.
Please DM with any questions!
Stay safe!

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