How can you possibly learn from trees?
Lancashire Yogi thinks that they are great teachers. And now, at this time of the year, without their leaves, they are looking very sparse with their bare branches and the glaze from the early morning ice making them shine like glass ware in the bright winter sun.
The yogis obviously did think that you could learn from trees. After all they created an asana – that we call ‘Tree Pose’ and that is called Vrksasana. It’s a great pose that calls us to our centre and helps us find our sense of balance. Lancashire Yogi loves this pose.
You start in tadasana. Lancashire Yogi writes about this pose here: http://lancashireyogi.com/2012/03/27/still-standing-still/
When you have found your sense of rootedness to the ground, and your centre in this position, choose which leg you feel comfortable raising. Once decided, move your weight gently onto the leg that will stay standing, and staying rooted to the floor with the foot of that leg, bend the knee you wish to raise. Then, reach down with the hand on that side and hold your ankle.
Bring your foot up and gently place the sole of the foot against the inner thigh of the oppose leg. If you can, it is suggested that you should gently press the heel of the foot into the groin, with the toes of that foot pointing towards the ground. Your pelvis should be aligned with the standing foot to provide balance. You can place your hands on your hips. This helps to ensure that your pelvis is in a neutral position – not pushing forward or tilting back.
Once in position, gently press the sole of the foot against the standing leg’s thigh and gently resist this with the standing leg.
You can keep your hands rested at your hips, or you can raise your arms and bring the palms of your hands together at chest level – typically around your sternum or centre of your chest – in the prayer mudra – known as Anjali. At this point many individuals stop and stay in this balance.
Lancashire Yogi finds that a couple of tips can help:
(1) Think: “up” – imagining a thread pulling the crown of your head up and your body being eased up like a puppet or marrionette.
(2) Breathe. It’s easily forgotten; but absolutely vital. If you are holding your breath, and your face is glowing red as if you are about to explode: you are probably also swaying vigorously like a tree in a gale. So breathe deep and easy.
(3) Focus. Focus on a spot on the floor about 3 – 4 feet in front of you. This helps you focus more generally and zone out the monkey mind thoughts that also seem to help us sway like a tree – or perhaps swing from branch to branch like a monkey in the tree.
(4) Don’t worry. If you are swaying like a tree or wobbling like a weeble. Don’t worry. It’s a useful sign that you need to think up, breathe and focus. And more importantly it’s a sign that you might want to enjoy and have fun, rather than get all angst ridden or competitive or embarrased. Remember also that “weebles wobble; but they don’t fall down” – so try not to get into a battle with yourself which ends with you doing falling on the floor legs in the air yoga – ouch!
Some folk decide to go a bit further and raise both arms up above their head and keep the arms, with palms facing each other, and arms straight past either side of the head and ears. Some folk go a bit further and bring the palms together in the anjali mudra above their head. Find where you feel comfortable and work with this. Don’t strain, and don’t try something that feels uncomfortable. And as Kit Hartley – ‘Lancashire’s Yoga Teacher always says: “breathe”.
You could stay in this posture for any time – but typically up to a minute or so is fine. Again, don’t strain. Find your limit and work within this or to it’s edge. Build up to it, rather than fall down too. When you have finished, return back to Tadasana breathing out, and then repeat this for the opposite leg.
Walking in Ennerdale, Lancashire Yogi spotted four trees on the brow of a fell, silhouetted against the bright blue sky, like four fell walkers strolling up the hill. It got him thinking – apart from the posture – what else can trees teach us?
If you look closely at the picture of the four trees on the hill – you’ll see that they are all bending in one direction. A major lesson that trees have given Lancashire Yogi is that it’s best to bend with the wind rather than fight it. He also thinks that its as important to have strong roots which give stability, as it is to have branches which offer shade.