I do not claim to be an expert in yoga. In fact, in my practice sessions and retreats, we do “Mindful Movement” as I am not a certified instructor. However, I like yoga quite a bit and I find it to be a pretty essential part of my mindfulness practice. My favorite pose is Virksaana, or “Tree Pose.” (You can see an image below of what this pose looks like.)
So, why am I telling you about Tree Pose? Because it’s chalk full of reminders of the the essence of mindfulness as well as living the mindful lifestyle. To begin with, yoga means “to yoke” or to bring together. Specifically, yoga aims to bring together the mind and body. Mindfulness is all about paying attention on purpose without judgment, including physically, mentally (thoughts), and emotionally. In tree pose you have to pay attention to your body position, where your balance is, your breath, etc. Additionally, perhaps the best gift, when we engage in Mindfulness we are also engaging in “heartfulness,” or self-compassion (“miatri”). I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use more of that.
Here are some thoughts on Tree Pose and Mindfulness:
- Go Inward – Tree Pose, like most if not all yoga poses, invite you to go inward. One of my most favorite-est outcomes of Mindfulness is how when we go inward and hang out with ourselves for awhile, we find a rich treasure trove of internal resources that are available to us at all times. We can even strengthen these internal resources and get better at utilizing them the more we practice Mindfulness.
- Seek Balance – Because you’re standing on one foot without using any other part of your body to balance you, you are focusing on balance. As we have all found out, seeking balance in life is not only critical, but also that the balance we need can fluctuate from week to week, even moment to moment.
- Respond instead of React – Tree Pose can be difficult. Even at first when you don’t even bring your foot to rest on your calf or thigh, and just have your foot on your ankle. When we feel ourselves start to wobble we want to grasp for something or come out of the pose all together. Over time, we find that when we find ourselves start to wobble, taking a deep breath, elongating the spine, regrounding (i.e., pushing our balance into our standing foot), and staying calm is the way to go. Mindfulness literally changes the parts of our brain that are in charge of our stress (fight, flight, freeze) response and trains the brain to respond (think, stay calm, find wise solutions) instead of panic and react automatically.
- Get Rooted – When I’m doing Tree Pose, I sometimes like to think of roots coming out of my foot and planting down into the ground. When I do this, I am reminded of the various ways we are nourished by the Earth and our external resources (i.e., the care and support of others). Can’t help but smile about this!
- Winds are Inevitable – The tree is exposed to all the weather conditions; wind, rain, storms, sun, etc. Each type of weather nourishes the trees, even when the wind is whipping and you see the trees bending and swaying. In fact, this actually helps trees strengthen their fibers and grow. This is a metaphor for our lives. Stress (winds) are inevitable. Mindfulness asks us to cultivate a witnessing awareness, observe without judging. This can be tricky. When “bad” things or “problems” happen in our lives we attach a story and have pessimistic attitudes. Observing the stressors in your life (internal and external) instead of reacting to it, may just change your life.
Looking for a tutorial on doing Tree Pose? Youtube has many. Pick your fav video HERE and give it a try!
Peace and love on your self-discover journey!
The time has come to be your happiest self!