Exhale. Bring your hands to your heart in mountain pose (tadasana), engage your core and find your strength; feel grounded. Shift your weight to your right leg, and feel roots growing from the bottom of your right foot deep into the earth, firming you to the ground.
Feel the roots grow and establish a stable trunk into that right leg. Lift the weight off of your left leg, and come to the ball of your foot. Rotate your left hip open and place your left foot at your right ankle in a kickstand. If you feel stable, move your foot to the inside of your right calf, or even further up into the inside of your right thigh. Press the left foot into the right leg and right leg into the left foot equally to help you maintain your balance, and feel.
Extend your tree limbs toward the sky, and notice what kind of tree you become. Are you a strong, sturdy oak? Maybe you’re a flowing weeping willow. Or, do you quiver before you find your stability like the adaptable Cypress?
For many students, the thought of making their way into tree pose during a yoga class strikes a bit of anxiety. I used to be that student. I’d immediately begin to shallow my breath and experience stage fright. Here we are, all standing together (no inversions where we can hide our faces.) What if I topple out of the pose? What if I am so unbalanced, I distract others? What if? What if? What if?
Instead of over-thinking the pose (yoga is about a settled mind afterall), just see what happens without judging. See what kind of tree grows from within you. Think about all of the trees out there; each species different and beautiful. Some trees sway severely in the wind. Others, are unwavering. Give way to your inner tree without trying to force the pose into something that’s not a fit for you. The next time you step to the front of your mat to come into Vrkasana (tree), notice which type of tree you are:
- The Mighty Oak – You are steady and grounded in the pose. The oak is unrelenting, courageous, strong. A tree of action. She’s not a fan of change, even though her leaves turn into beautiful colors with the evolution of seasons.
- The Fluid Weeping Willow – In tree pose, your arms are flowing to help you find your balance. The willow goes with the flow, happily lets the wind take her where it wants to go. Empathetic and intuitive. The willow loves to travel, and water, so she can be emotional.
- The Faithful Cypress – If you’re a cypress, you find it easier to rise up into the pose in class than on your own. Strong, yet adaptable. The cypress is confident and optimistic. A dedicated friend and mate, the cypress loves to be around other “trees.”
- The Sensible Fig Tree – You may or may not come into tree easily, and if you topple out, you’re very forgiving of yourself. The fig tree is a lover of life and has a great sense of humor. If you’re a fig, you see the humor in tree pose when you lose your balance and easily come back to your center.
- The Heart of the Apple Tree – If you love the heart opening sensation of a fully extended tree pose, you might be an apple tree. Bearer of heart-shaped fruit, the apple tree loves to love. You’re charming, compassionate, generous and sensitive.
- The Inspired Birch Tree – Every time you find tree pose, it’s a different and exciting new pose. The birch is full of imagination and sheds her bark often to let go of what doesn’t serve her. She enjoys the newness of different experiences. She loves nature, and has no problem baring her soul honestly, yet she is modest.
Notice what type of tree you are without judgement and embrace the physical aspects of that tree. Once you become firmly “rooted” in your tree, bring awareness to other seedlings and saplings inside of you that might want to express themselves.
Without forcing any change, see if your body wants to evolve into a different tree. If you’re the oak, try letting your limbs flow gently like the willow. If you’re the willow, see if you can find the steadiness of the oak.
Trees give us life. They gift us oxygen so we can breathe; they provide food, shade and shelter. Trees absorb the waste we give off and recycle it into something we can use. We all have a little tree inside.
Branch out and connect with the tree within.
– Your Charmed Yogi
I’m a mighty oak tree!
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I am the sensible fig tree. Thank you for this wonderful writing. Namaste.
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