Why Can’t I Balance in Tree Pose?

Why can’t I balance in tree pose?

Well, there are many prospective components, but one common culprit gets overlooked—and even exacerbated—in yoga classes: maybe your standing foot shouldn’t be parallel.

A sacrilegious statement, I know, but one that is, nevertheless, anatomically relevant to many practitioners.

Here’s the test: Stand in front of a mirror with your feet parallel. That means with your heels disappearing behind the second and third toes. Now check out your knee caps in the mirror. Is one or are both facing slightly inward? (They won’t necessarily face the same exact direction; symmetry doesn’t exist in nature.) If so, you have tibial torsion.

Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with you. It just means that your shin bone takes a curved shape. It’s not that uncommon really. But if this description fits your lower leg, then in order to place your feet parallel, you’ll have to rotate your thigh inward. And balancing on an internally rotated thigh just isn’t terribly stable.

In order for your thigh to be neutral in the hip socket, you’ll need to turn your foot out a tad. Just enough so that the knee cap points forward. It’s not a huge adjustment, but it just may make balancing on one foot a heck of a lot easier.

Depending on your bone structure, balancing becomes far more straightforward when your foot isn’t, well, straight forward!


Jennie Cohen

Jennie Cohen was first introduced to yoga through dance, and her work with Simonson technique informs her approach to teaching yoga: classes prioritize working safely and address the needs of different students. Precise instruction and focused sequencing invite students to delve into the intricacies of postures and to explore a sense of adventure. Jennie’s interest in anatomy and her studies of the texts that form the philosophical foundation of the practice infuse her classes. Jennie is 500-hour certified through YogaWorks and has studied anatomy with Irene Dowd and Leslie Kaminoff. For more information on Jennie, visit her website or like her on Facebook.

One Response
  1. Myrna 46 years ago

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