I’m putting these two postures together in one post for obvious reasons. They are the final two postures of the standing series, done in fairly rapid succession. They happen to be two of my favorite postures, even though I’m not particularly great at them. Let’s take a look at each one separately.
My two favorite things about this one are 1) it’s a great hip opener and 2) it slows down the heart rate. For the hip opener benefits, getting the foot up as high on your costume as possible is how you get the most out of it. My teachers point out all the time that it’s more important to get the foot up high than get both hands in prayer. As for prayer position, I still can only get one hand up comfortably. I still have to hold my foot to get maximum benefits. I can let go of my foot, and I do sometimes, but then I don’t feel like I get a good hip stretch.
The heart rate slow down shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you’re having a rough time in class. Many times, I’ve been dying in the room and just want to sit down, but I always make sure to do Tree and Toe because it really does slow down your heart rate and make an easy transition to the floor series.
This is one of my favorite looking postures from the beginning series, it just looks wonderful when done correctly. A little oddity on this posture for me is that I’m not good on one side (the first one, balancing on left leg) but very good on the other side (balancing on right leg). One note on this, especially if you have bad knees is to put your hands on the floor before bending your knee. You can actually hurt your knees if you don’t follow this point of the dialogue. In the advanced series, you do Toe Stand without putting your hands on the floor (you stay in prayer the whole time going down and coming up), but of course this is the advanced series and isn’t something your average student should attempt. If you’re feeling up to it, by all means go for it, but ask a teacher to supervise it so nothing goes wrong. I can do the advanced variation on the right leg and once in a while I’ll do it in beginning class just for fun.