Tree-pose your life: stumble, bend, but don´t fall over
Tree pose – more than Yogic fashion?
« You will be asked to bend today », says one of my favorite Yoga teachers Luke Ketterhagen while guiding us with his calm voice through tree pose. Vrksasana or tree pose is a constant part of his Yoga courses and one of the most commonly known poses in Yoga. It looks easy from the outside but has some truly deep benefits from the inside. Both for beginners and advanced Yoga practioners, it´s easy to maintain and can be performed in different variations. All you need is a little balance, right?
Keeping our balance: easy said and done?
During this last year, we were often times asked to keep our balance while adapting to the constantly changing circumstances. This whole pandemic has hit us in the center and forced us to brave the elements. Often times, we needed to be strong trees, the stable point for our children and families even though we might have felt like the bamboo in my garden the other day, which was forced to the ground under a load of fresh snow. I took the stem, shook off the snow and the bamboo immediately reached its arms up to the sky again.
Tree pose is exactly like that. It might look easy from the outside, but you need a tremendously strong core to keep your balance. You have to root yourself through the standing leg into the ground, stabilize the core to keep your balance whereas lifting up one foot off the floor. Only then you can open your arms to the sky to widen your chest and fully breathe. With the arms sprawled to the sky, you can welcome new energy or regain inner peace and focus while folding the hands in front of your heart.
How to tree pose your life?
Tree pose might not always look graceful as it needs a little bit of practice, but once you learned how to hold the pose, the benefits will impact your whole life.
When I learned about the positive impacts of tree pose, I instantly knew, that more balance is exactly what I need in my life, so I watched an easy-to-follow tutorial. All we did for 10 minutes was continuously lifting up one leg (with the knee bend in 90 degrees) to the front and to the right, and again and again. 5 minutes to one side and 5 to the other. After that we placed the foot against the leg at any position which felt comfortable (not the knee!) and tried to hold it for a couple of seconds. And what should I say: after practicing it for a couple of days, it worked. I was able to hold my balance.
What you need is a calm a steady breath to be able to stabilize your core enough to keep the balance on one leg. Search for a point in front of you to focus your mind. This helps you to not stumble. Tree pose is a perfect interaction between breath, muscles and mental focus, which will be stored in the depth of your mind. Whenever we are confronted with demanding situations in our lives, we can refer to our tree pose: we might stumble and we might bend, but once we know how to keep our balance, we don´t fall.
“With passion for your practice you will begin to trust yourself & your decision-making capacity.” – Luke Ketterhagen
Not every tree is the same
Like in nature, not every tree is the same and so is your daily practice not alike. Some days it´s steady and firm, others it´s wobbly and unstable. Tree pose is a glorious posture, which not only strengthens your body on a physical level, but also immediately points to your mental weaknesses. Are you distracted today or didn´t concentrate on your breathing? You fall over. Do you have difficulties to keep your focus in front of you? You feel wobbly and unstable. Tree pose requires your full mental power and attention. But the merit is so much the better.
Overall benefit of tree pose:
- Improves balance and stability
- Strengthens the legs, hips and feet
- Creates space in the diaphragm to
- Breathe deeply
- Regain your focus
- Calm your mind
To me, this is one of the poses, which combines everything that Yoga actually is. Every day, we will be challenged, and we will be asked for decisions, which have to come from a clear and focused mind. We are not a perfect tree every day, but the more we practice the better we become in keeping our balance and acting from a centered point.
Tree pose your life is not about overcoming obstacles with a single pose and an easy breath. It means to shake off the snow when it lasts heavy on your body and reach your arms towards the sky to embrace your challenges as possibilities to thrive. You might stumble, you might bend and sometimes, you need some help along the way. But what really counts in the end, is that you master your obstacles with endurance and grace. That´s when the beauty of Yoga unfolds.
“Realize that enough hidden strength lies within you to overcome all obstacles and temptations. Bring forth that indomitable power and energy.”