Grounding with Tree Pose
Tree Pose, Balance, and what I mean when I say Grounding
An essay and contemplation by Rose Moore
Grounding is a term to describe the praxis of coming to the present – Royoyoga
Anxiety is caused by thinking about the future. Depression comes from thinking about the past. Think to yourself, do you find yourself thinking about the past of future more? How do this correlate with your depression or anxiety symptoms? Grounding is a term to describe the praxis of coming to the present. A dulling of the future and past.
How can tree pose ground you then? First let us meditate on the idea of a tree.
When we think of the broader concept of grounding a tree you might think roots going down into the ground, a large trunk to keep the tree from falling over, healthy nutrients so that the limbs of the tree retain durability, water, to soak the cells so not to shrink, or even the cycle of life when in the fall leaves may fall literally onto the ground.
So how can we relate to these conditions of a tree? Next time you come into this asana I want you to really think on the subject.
Roots? What are your roots?
For some people it is their home, for others it is their family, some even connect their roots to their ancestors. In a smaller sense your roots can also be what is the motivating factors for your current project. All of our ideas have a root in our prusha, our lens of the world. In this sense, tree pose can signify a cleaning of this lens, clearing out the distractions so that you can see the roots in your life—meaning what makes you tick, what makes you swoon, and everything in between.
Balance? Have you ever fallen over?
I recently cut my heel. I was running around my back yard barefoot, carefree, and sliced my calloused heel open on a small stump from a bush I had cut down last year. In a literal sense, I fell over.
Since then, I have had a limp on my right foot slightly. Being injured from the base of my body has changed my yoga practice, and I am unbalanced. Funny thing, it is not the cut which caused the imbalance, no. It is the cut which brought my imbalances to life.
When you practice yoga these kinds of imbalances physically can help you with your emotions, mind, and soul as well. Do to the cut on my right foot I have been practicing tree pose on my left side, which is the side that represents the sun (the HA in Hatha yoga). Now, having contemplated these symbols for a while, I said, aHA! Something is imbalance in my daily life, rather than a deeper undercurrent in my life. This is because the THA in hatha represents night, and what comes out at night?
The moon, which takes a month for a cycle. Daily tree pose on the left side has helped me come back to my daily habits and I wouldn’t have made this choice to focus on my left if I had not gotten injured. Much like a tree with a limb cut off, branching out the opposite direction to keep up tall.
Food? How do you feel different when you get the nutrients you need?
We all must eat, even trees. In a way, trees compete with grass for the nutrients in the ground. Who do we compete with for food? Yes, there are outer competitions for beauty, health, prosperity etc, but Id challenge you to look internally. What have you eaten recently and how does your body feel in return? What issues do you have with food, emotionally?
A lot of us have emotional eating patterns and tree pose can be a time to contemplate where those thoughts are coming from. If you stop and appreciate a single slice of orange*—the texture, the flavor, the pulp in your mouth, the feelings can dissipate, grounding you by allowing you to appreciate the food coming into you.
Tree pose helps with digestion because of the balance you receive from sucking in your belly during the pose. When you do this, you will feel more grounded, meaning less likely to fall! Your center of gravity happens to also be where your body digests food,
*I choose orange because it is the first food I picked for mindful eating. It is not just enjoying food, there is a whole process. More on this practice coming soon.
Hydration? When you drink water, how does your body react, and how does this help with expansion?
Like I said earlier, water expands the cells in a tree. It also expands the cells in your body, plumping them up giving a reserve for which your cells can keep working. When you do not drink water, you may notice particular sensations. Your mouth may feel dry, you may get dizzy, your urine changes colors. All of this is effect from dehydration. It is easier to deal with difficult situations, over pour with gratitude, and live your best life when you are hydrated. Just like a tree!
Trees know when it is going to rain. They curl their leaves into a cup for water and get ready to be drenched. You too can prepare yourself for water with the tree pose asana. Taking a moment to check in with your body, decide what affects you are feeling from more or less water, and make a plan. Drink the water! Merely taking the moment to check in is grounding. You are feeling the root of your body’s sensations.
Change? Where do you find yourself when you feel your leaves falling, entering a new phase in your life?
This contemplation is fun! As humans we stay the same forever in our consciousness which never goes away, a deeper lesson on yoga that deserves its own blog post. You know what does not stay the same??? Literally everything else, from the world spinning to the emotions which may rock you like waves. The same goes for a tree, which is always the same tree despite its reactions to the time of the year. There are some trees which will die in cold climates, they tend to have juicy leaves, flower, or have fruits. They go barren in the winter and come alive in the spring. These are called deciduous trees.
Once you go north you will see trees with needles, that do not appear to shed during the winter or change in the summer. These are called coniferous trees. Both types of trees are ever changing, however. The pine trees shed their needles often and drop cones filled with seeds, much like the fruit of a cherry tree.
Are you a fruit tree with dramatic, visible changes in your life right now? Or a pine tree, constantly shedding but also keeping up a constant image to the world? Change is hard, so let these contemplations guide you through tree pose when you feel something new coming along.
Woah, trees are more like humans than we thought eh? The yogis have known for centuries. Not because of education for which a yogi has much, but because in yoga we can contemplate how we are human, but also no different than any other aspect of the world. Something you cannot learn in a book or from a guru. It must be experienced, thus suffering (that anxiety and depression we talked about earlier) be quelled from the mind. We have a lot in common with our tree friends when we can come into the present, leaving the past behind and the future as something for later.
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