Lessons from a Tree
I love spring in the South Bay, especially right now with the jacaranda trees in full bloom. While walking my dog, I marvel at the lavender trees and lavender petals that cover the road. Trees are stunning and wise. Some grow to be very old and exceptionally tall, yet they are remarkably resilient. They weather changes in season, storms, droughts, floods, and other natural disasters. If they lose a branch, they might be lopsided, but they keep growing. It reminds me of a Zen Proverb, “The strength of a tree lies in its ability to bend.” The ability to bend and to be flexible, for both trees and people, can be a source of strength.
Trees strike the perfect balance by staying grounded on earth while extending towards the sun. So, it is not surprising that I love vrksasana, tree pose. The standing foot roots into the ground like a tree to stabilize the body. The trunk consists of a standing leg hugging the muscle to the bone as a firm and strong base. The belly draws in and up stabilizing the torso and representing the upper trunk of the tree. To me, the bent leg and arms represent the limbs of a tree. The bent leg is a strong and old lower branch, unwavering in its strength. However, the arms are the gangly limbs of new branches, palms pressed together in Namaste, or spread out wide reaching up to the sun.
When practicing tree pose, don’t think too much and just let it happen organically. Your tree pose may not look like your neighbor’s, but heck, not all trees look alike. Also, don’t be upset if you teeter in tree pose. Just like a tree, try to stay grounded, while recognizing that it’s okay to let your arms sway in the wind. If you lose your balance, simply try the pose again, and know that no matter what happens, your tree will have another chance to bloom.