Hatha Health Symbolism Yoga

The Tree of Life: Vrikasana Pose

July 17, 2013

Dr. Susan O'Grady, RYT200 Yoga therapist and PsychologistTree Pose: Vriksasana

The tree is a symbol of rootedness and reach, of sturdiness and balance. Trees find nourishment underground, feeding off the earth; they also reach toward the sky, capturing the sunrays. From the smallest seed, the tree shows us how life moves  toward growth.

The Tree Pose, Vrksasana, is a powerful asana. By extending from your core (or, appropriately enough, your trunk), and reaching arms toward the sky, you balance on one leg. You will wobble and sway just as trees do in the wind. Allow your eyes to remain fixed on an object in the room to help ground you. Feel the connection to the earth and the sky above, growing upwards and out of your trunk. You will feel the sides of your body become elongated, just as the tree reaches toward the sun for nourishment. Allow yourself to feel nourished, strong, and stable in this pose. As you practice, feel your body becoming still in the pose as you grow out and up while being rooted in the earth.

Vrksasana uses the muscles of the erector spinae, abdominus rectus, obliques, Illiopsoas, hamstrings, gluteus, hip rotators, and the deltoid muscles. It is useful for strengthening the ankles, hips, legs, and back muscles. It tones the pituitary and stimulates the adrenal gland. Like the flow of energy from trunk to leaf, this pose increases circulation and vitality and develops balance, coordination, and concentration. Learning to focus  in this pose will extend to other aspects of your life where concentration is needed. The pose also teaches humility, like the humus of the earth from the tree grows; getting into this pose and staying in it requires letting go of ego. When you find your humility, you will become stronger and more powerful.

The Tree of Life is a powerful motif in story and literature. My uncle, Thomas Hanna, PhD–a founder of Somatic Training—wrote the poem that follows this post. (I had the good fortune to live on the property he owned with his partner, Dr. Eleanor Criswell.) Thomas’s writing on the tree of life is sympatico with much of yoga’s philosophy.

The Tree of Life

 There is a Tree of life. Its roots sink deeply

into eternity, and its branches reach upward and outward

into the universe.

 The branches are resplendent with a chorus of leaves which

sing of the green of growing. The Tree of Life is growing

and the green leaves are its growth and its voice.

 Each leaf is unique and each leaf is alike and each leaf

sings of the growing Tree.

 From deep within eternity the roots drink Love and send it

coursing through its branches: this is the sustenance of

each leaf. From deep within the universe, Power is

promised, and the branches and leaves grow into this Power

this is the search of each leaf.

 Each leaf speaks of Love and of Power, and each leaf finds

its greenness and its growth in this Love and Power.

 In the universe each leaf stands out as glorious and separate.

Within the Tree of Life each leaf is the Tree itself and is

the eternity itself.

 As eternity’s Love flows into each leaf, so does it grow in

power and shining beauty. As eternity’s Love flows into

each leaf, so does each leaf know its deep and eternal one-ness

with the All and with the teeming green chorus of leaves.

 I am the leaf and I am the Tree. I am the Love of eternity

and the Power of the universe.

 I and we are growing with Love into Power, for to grow in

Love is to grow in Power.

 The glory is now and the glory is promised. Let us grow

into that glory.

                                                    Thomas Hanna 1928-1990

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The audio of this reading can be played during Savasana

 

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