By Alexander Wayne
From circa 1930 to exactly 3:13 p.m. last Wednesday, a 30-foot post oak inhabited a space just outside my bedroom window. It succumbed to root rot and fell over and onto a nearby cypress just down the driveway.
As a witness of the passing of this stoic and wise being, I am compelled to offer in its honor, Vrksasana, Tree Pose.
Center in Tadasana — in the heart of Mountain Pose. Connect with the stabilizing power of the earth element. Differentiate the sense of being bound in gravity and being rooted in awareness. Affix your gaze to a space on the floor or on the wall and consciously shift your weight to your right foot, rooting in the center of the heel and behind both the big toe and the little toe on the ball of the foot. Maintain a small bend at the right knee. Pause and breathe.
Bring the sole of the left foot to the inside of the right calf or to the inside of the right thigh. If need be, balance yourself by holding onto a counter or closet door or significant other. See yourself in the fullness of the experience rather than by any perceived limitation. Yoga is a practice of spiritual, mental and physical wellness, not a regimen of fitness. Enjoy the process of becoming.
I will caution to avoid placing the sole of the left foot to the inside of the right knee. Although it seems to fit there something perfect, the knee isn’t constructed to handle too much in the way of side-to-side bending.
Bring the hands in front of the heart in prayer pose. This hand gesture — anjali mudra, sometimes called namaste hands — is a symbolic definition of Yoga, of Union. Namaste hands announce that I recognize the Divine spark within you, for I know it is also within me. We are, now and for always, One. Emulate the subtle movements of a mighty arbor by allowing yourself a small bit of space to sway. Experiment with reach and balance. Return to Tadasana with an exhale. After a few inhales and exhales at center shift your body weight to the left foot and repeat the above steps.
As with all asanas, mentally perform the pose before committing to it physically. See yourself fully actualized in the position, and work a path from vision to manifestation.
As you become confident in the pose, playfully add new elements. Tuck the tailbone. Engage mula bandha.
Extend the arms over the head or out to the side in a gesture of receptivity. Be playful with the pose.
Alexander Wayne teaches yoga and meditation at the UA and Fiddlehead Fern Therapuetics … and this Saturday at George’s on Dickson, 8 p.m. Contact Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org