This picture was taken by Robin Adams Photography back 2006, right before I opened up my yoga studio. I used this picture in some marketing collateral. Seems like another lifetime ago! Otherwise known as life BP (before Penelope).
I love tree pose so stinkin’ much. It is one of those poses, where when you look at it, it looks so easy. So you saunter your leg up, like it aint no big deal, and you can’t do it. You can’t even have your foot on your foot and balance. It humbles you. It forces you to take a big look at yourself and forces you be honest with yourself in the present moment.
At the same time, for some people, it is one of those poses you can fake. Sure, you may be able to get your leg up and make a triangle with your bent leg, and balance. But how is your form? Are both your butt cheeks pulled in? Especially, the cheek of your standing leg. Is your knee cap of your standing leg, pulled up and your thigh engaged? Is the weight of your entire body, spread perfectly and evenly across the bottom of your standing foot? Is your bent knee at a 90 degree angle with your pelvis? Or is it pointed slightly forward? Are both your hips facing forward? Is your belly button pulled up into your spine? Are your shoulders down away from your ears? Are you staring at your drishti (a focus point on the wall, at eye level, to help you balance) and thinking of nothing but your breath?
It is a complicated pose, no doubt about it. But the beauty of practicing and mastering, balancing yoga poses, is that whatever you accomplish in class can directly correlate to mastering balance in your own life. Learning to live in a perfect state of balance, in regards to all things, in something I strive for and truth be told, one of the biggest lessons I learned when I had my studio, was how to keep my life in balance. Tree pose is one of the things that helps me along.
Once you can do some sort of balance in tree pose, you will start to notice that one side may easier to balance on and that it changes by the day, by the hour and by the minute. You will also notice, that moment you come out of the present and start thinking about your to do list, you will fall.
For babies and toddlers, tree pose is a different experience. It is one of pure joy and elation as they learn about their bodies and what they can do with them. Tree pose, is one of my favorites to teach, because once a toddler can master this on their own, the look on their face when they do it for the first time, is priceless. The picture below is of Ava Grace, age 18 months. And me when I used to look young, pretty and full of life. Now, I look like someone ran me over with a truck, ah, motherhood.
For toddlers, you show them how to do tree pose first. But you show them the easiest way you can. With your foot by your ankle, or on top of your foot. Later you can show them the full version of it, if you want. But this is a really hard pose for them, so make it attainable at first. Usually, it takes well past the 2nd birthday before kids can balance on one foot, so don’t despair if it takes them awhile. You can hold onto them, or show them how to hold onto the wall.
And tell me your Tree Pose story!