Article by Angie Webster
Yoga teaches, heals and shapes us in many ways, both on and off our mats. We aren’t simply making shapes with our bodies and working with our breath. When we do yoga, we are learning about our minds, our energy and about life. As each pose opens our energy channels, we become clearer. As we connect to the Earth, we feel her support. As we reach for the sky and pull its power down to us, we feel our own strength renewed.
Sometimes when I practice yoga, I will move into a posture I have done hundreds of times before, and the energy will move through me differently that day. My mind will open and I will connect with the asana in a way I hadn’t before as if the pose is speaking to me through my breath, teaching me life lessons and healing me. Some small version of this seems to happen nearly every time I am on my mat, which is why my practice never gets old. It reacquaints me with my body, the Earth, the sky, the sun, and energy each day.
Tree pose teaches me every single time I move into the posture. When I first began doing yoga many years ago, I was particularly challenged by balance postures and tree pose taught me to persevere—that I could succeed if I was patient and gentle with myself. Even now, on the days when my balance is not so good and I fall, I learn from tree pose. This teaches me to have humor and that there is inner grace even in ungracefulness.
Several years ago, tree pose brought a big moment of insight to me. Though I had gotten better at balance poses, I still often struggled with them mentally. I tried to force them and to hold them rigidly. But on this day, my mind relaxed for just a moment. I felt the Earth beneath my stabilizing foot as my gaze softly settled on the horizon. I felt both connected and free at the same time. As my arms rose to create the branches of my tree, I suddenly understood what it is to be a tree. Steady, yet flowing; rooted, yet flexible.
With that realization, I knew that this lesson was not just about tree pose or about the nature of trees. I knew that this was about life as well. Like a tree, we need to be strong, grounded and stable. Yet, we must also be able to flow and bend with the winds of change and growth. We must be willing and able to adjust and to let go.
As my body softly swayed with my breath, I knew that my movement was not a weakness as I had previously thought. My ability to be rooted without being unyielding was a strength. My capacity to sway and flow with the breath was the same as the trees ability to move in the breeze—or even the strongest wind—without breaking. I was filled with joy and moved to tears. I knew that I could be more gentle with myself. In that one moment in tree pose, I understood that my world would not end if I practiced more peacefully with myself. Because tree pose allowed me to physically experience the sensations of flow and rootedness at the same time, I understood.
Since then, I have a special appreciation for trees. I love to notice them swaying in the wind or dancing wildly in a storm and thank them for the lesson they offered me through yoga. Each yoga practice is now a reminder to me to return to self-compassion and to release rigidity of mind. Yoga and the trees remind me that strength needs the balance of flexibility and gentleness, both on the mat and off.
Angie Webster is a Reiki Master Teacher and author. Angie’s primary focus is animal Reiki, which she adores. She also teaches classes and workshops about Reiki and spiritual growth. She works often with nature healing and Earth healing, hoping to better understand our connection with Mother Earth. Angie is the author of Infinite Reiki, Infinite Healing: How Energy Medicine Healed my Life and What It Can do for Yours. Reiki and a healthy lifestyle contributed to her healing after a 20-year struggle with neurological and chronic pain issues. She comes out the other side with a new perspective on life and now seeks to empower others, guiding them back to their own innate healing abilities. You can follow her at: angie-webster-healing.thinkific.com, https://www.facebook.com/HolisticSpirituality, http://www.serenityenergyhealing.com/