Tree pose is a pose that most yogis can do some variation of, and it seems to be such a simple pose that we do often in our practice. I had a beautiful revelation during my practice one day that made me think of this simple balancing posture as a complex reflection of our own inner strength that we sometimes forget is inside of us.
This revelation actually came to me over a year ago at a time when my mother’s cancer advanced to multiple places on her body. A month after I had just started a grad program and was adjusting to life in a new city, my mom told me that she had gone to the doctor and that there were three tumors on her brain. She had been on treatment for four years already, and for the most part her cancer had been manageable, although we knew that without a miracle the cancer would eventually take over her body.
My mother moved on to the next life last summer. It has been hard for me to accept that reality and I am still struggling to understand why the universe would take someone who had such a good heart and loved life. Additionally, I have found myself in a deep depression that has become largely debilitating. I am however, still able to continue my yoga practice. Yoga is one of the few spaces that makes me feel like I can have respite, if only for an hour, from the stresses of grieving, worrying about bills, planning my future.
I have been practicing yoga for about six or seven years. For many yogis, it is so fulfilling to go deeper in a pose than we ever have before, or to suddenly do a pose that we have been working toward for years. There is also the experience where the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual all come together and a great revelation comes through our practice. This might only last a moment, but the feeling of that connection to the universe is indescribable. I had a teacher call this a “glimpse” of the larger life force that sustains and supports us.
My “glimpse” occurred during tree pose while doing an amazing hip opening class by Neesha Zollinger from yogatoday.com. We extended our arms up, and she instructed us to sway our arms, if it is available to us, because trees are not rigid. They root from the ground up and like branches flowing in the breeze you just go with it so you don’t break. She also said something I thought was interesting, and that was change only happens when we have the expansiveness for it. A lot of times when I think about change, I feel like it is something outside of me; stuff that I cannot control. However, I can respond to change by resisting and being attached to wanting things to stay the same, or I can shift my perspective and be like a tree, and just flow with it.
This experience became even deeper when I read an interesting article about the way trees grow on NPR, and the article discusses how tree branches grow in a mathematical way that makes them able to withstand high winds. When I read the article, I thought about it in relation to the way we grow and are shaped by our experiences (or our winds). The article also notes that, interestingly, the surface areas of daughter branches add up to the surface area of the mother branch. It made me think that my experiences, good and bad, are a part of me and add up to what my center, my core, my personal strength is, and that whatever winds or changes come I am already inherently prepared to handle it.
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Credit: This has been written by Sonia Renee. Sonia has an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies and is currently living in Los Angeles pursuing another MA in Geography. She plans to be a lifelong student in the university and a lifelong student of the universe.