A few days ago in my early morning yoga practice I attempted Tree Pose, a pose that I love and usually comes easily to me. I ground down through my big toe mound, pull the earth energy up through the inside of my leg to my hips and root chakra and then lift my ribs and sternum, I drop my shoulders down my back and raise my arms and hands to the sky. Focusing my drishti or gaze I breath. I love it; solid like the trunk of a tree with my arms reaching, reaching to the sky like branches in the wind.
On this day, I wasn’t so solid. I kept falling and falling. Now my line in class is “fall with awareness and acceptance” – so easy to say as I am watching others but difficult advice to take as I am falling over. So I got frustrated as we do, and then I just stopped. There is one thing I know about myself. If there is something not right with me, I’ll know first thing in the morning when that little voice in the back of my head (or my emotions and intuition) has a chance to become a bit louder and get its point across. When I have to stop and acknowledge that little voice and listen is when I realize I have slipped and am no longer standing in my true power. Why? Because when I am in my power I am always listening to my little voice and my emotions are at ease.
So I put both feet on the ground and just stood there and asked myself, what in my body is not in balance? The answer was my heart. Then I asked, what in my life is not in balance? The answer was my relationship. My first thought was “Ouch!” With a sigh I closed my eyes and thought sometimes it’s easier not to ask.
There is a yoga principle called “satya” which means the practice of truthfulness. It teaches us as we practice yoga to think, speak and act in alignment with what is true. Tree Pose is great for this because it offers an opportunity to practice this principle by aligning yourself with the truth in your own body. When your body is out of alignment, in pain, or feels restricted, it is usually because there is something else going on in your life that is either out of alignment, causing you pain or feels restricted. Your body is just a huge storage depot for all of your stress, tension and emotions. The longer you ignore your body, the more it hurts and eventually becomes full of disease.
Satya allows us to get in touch with our feelings and emotions, which is something we really need to do more of in our society; a society that is highly medicated with either prescription drugs or other drugs/alcohol that surpress our emotions. As a society we have become emotionless. So we let our brains decide what to do way more than we let our hearts and emotions decide. I was recently accused of being “too emotional” because I express my emotions either when I am excited, sad or frustrated. When did being healthy and expressing how you feel become “too emotional?”
When we get to a place of trusting our feelings and acting from a place of inner knowing, we get to a place of truth and that is when we step into our own personal power. When we are in our true power we own how we feel.
This is where I had slipped a few months ago. I was truly in my personal power and I was stoked. I was in a place of complete trust in the universe and following my intuition. The abundance was flowing into my life with ease, the people I wanted to attract were showing up and I was inspired by who and what I was experiencing. Then I started to stretch my boundaries, conform to others and neglect myself. I was also ignoring that little voice in the back of my head when I knew something wasn’t right. I had started to bite my tongue out of fear. Fear of rockin’ the boat or creating conflict. Slowly I started to lose bits and parts of myself and just as I continuously fell out of Tree Pose, I realized that I was becoming fragmented because I was not honouring myself and the way I had chosen to live my life. I was altering my life path for another person, instead of standing in my own power and inviting them to stand beside me. This wasn’t the first time I had slipped out of my power, as women we do it ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME! We give up ourselves to help others, our partners, our children, our friends and of course, our jobs. We are constantly filling everyone else’s cup instead of our own. When was the last time you filled your cup before someone else’s? Guilt free?After standing in Mountain Pose for what seemed like an eternity, I lowered myself to the sanctuary of my mat and child’s pose. That is where I cried for I knew what I had to do to step back into my power. The consequence of realizing and accepting the truth about how I was feeling was the fact that now I would have to act on that truth. I had to own it, to step back into my power and the person I know I am. That meant no more bending or conforming. No more brushing the shit under the carpet and pretending nothing was wrong. It meant facing the truth and having that uncomfortable conversation about what wasn’t working and also accepting the possibility that this might be the end of something great. But in my heart I knew that being in my power and loving myself was the most important thing. I knew that if I honoured my feelings and loved myself with complete trust in the universe then I would put all those fragmented parts of myself back together. I knew that if I stood in my power then I would be solid in my energy, both body and mind. I knew that when I was back in my power everything would work out perfectly, just at the universe intended.
I rose from my mat with a new focus. It was “myself.” Grounding down to the earth, I raised my leg to the inside of my inner thigh, lengthening through my torso I raised my arms to the sky. Smiling, I visualized a string pulling the top of my head up to the sky and my foot rooting down into the earth. With my drishti focused, I stood solid and grounded. I am not sure how long I was in the pose before I changed to the other side. All I know is that it was the best Tree Pose of my life because it was at that moment that I stood back in my power and the beauty that I am.
Five Tips for Tree Pose
- Ground down to the earth through the base of your big toe, engage the inside of your standing leg, then lift your other foot to the inside of your standing leg.
- Move your foot up or down your leg, it can be on your inner thigh, knee, calf or ankle. Find the area that works for you, your leg will get higher with practice.
- Smile and If you are biting your lips or gripping your jaw, soften and let go.
- Fall! Yup, this is the practice: try, fall, and try again. See whether you can keep trying without sinking into frustration. Try falling with awareness and acceptance.
- Visualize a white rod of light that comes down through the crown of your head, through the middle of your torso and pelvis, and straight into the ground beneath you.
If you want to watch a great video on how to do Tree Pose check out this link from Yoga Journal