the wonders of tree pose

the wonders of tree pose
photo by jll banach

photo by jll banach

You can sometimes tell when there’s an energy shift in a competitive environment–on a sports team, in a classroom, or at a workplace. When coaches announce the workout or teachers hand out the essay topic or bosses raise their expectations, it’s like you can hear the room fill with moans, people anticipating the struggle. Rather than embracing a challenge, most people are filled with dread.

This is the kind of mood I sense when the instructor tells us to close our eyes after being in Tree Pose for a few breaths. This is the time when people usually lose their balance. I didn’t fully understand how shutting your eyes during this pose could alter your feelings so drastically, but I reached a revelation one day, when my instructor offered an enlightening perspective.

“So often,” she stated, “We balance our lives on external forces. It’s when we are forced to center ourselves from within that we get shaky.”

It was then that I experience an ah-ha moment. After class, I reflected on how I balance myself in my life mentally and emotionally. I would think about reaching success; I would assess myself in different “categories” of life; I would calculate my improvements; I would think about the people in my life. Not that these are “bad,” but none of these factors have to do with me–with who I am, and how I feel about myself. They are all external. They are all judgements that come rushing past me throughout the day, without my realizing it.

The minute I closed by eyes for Tree Pose and had to only rely on myself and to ground me, I wobbled. It was then that I recognized that I was not internally calm. I was not fully at peace with myself.

This was the beginning of my shift towards a less-judegemental, more aware and in-tune self.

With all the pressure and the fast-paced lifestyle we face today, being at ease with yourself (especially when you are enduring a stressful or overwhelming time) is harder than it seems. We constantly are bombarded with suggestions about how to be better–how to look prettier, how to do more, how to make more money, how to run faster and eat healthier.

But being better isn’t always best.

It’s wonderful to want to improve ourselves, but we also need to learn to be content with who we are and where we are at. No matter where we are in our journey, it’s our journey and that’s worth being embraced.

Whether we’re holding on by a thread or thriving, the one thing that doesn’t have to change is who we are how we feel about ourselves. Grounding ourselves with external aspects of life like achievements is not only superficial, but also unreliable. At any minute, we can experience failure. Events in our lives are constantly changing; difficult times come and go, as do celebratory times. Reaching serenity based on how we’re “doing” or how much “better” we’ve gotten is impossible. Let’s shift our attention to our hearts and our minds … to ourselves. Maybe this is the secret to making ourselves “better.” Once we are comfortable with ourselves, we can reach out a helping hand to others.

I have learned that no yoga pose is simple because they can all be related to some aspect of your life. I have been amazed at how much meaning can be retrieved from even a basic standing pose. Learning to practice Tree Pose with my eyes closed has been a balancing act on so many levels.

A lifestyle blog about veganism, mood swings, & other chatter.