Tree Pose: Getting to the Heart of Balance

Trees represent to many cultures the bridge between heaven and earth, just as the heart represents the bridge between body and spirit. Practicing Vrksasana (tree pose) can not only teach us physical balance, but also provide an opportunity to notice the self-talk and emotions that come up when we struggle with, achieve or fail at balance, and to cultivate equanimity and self-love, the key components to a successful artistic life.

If you can, go out into nature to practice tree pose.  Begin with a few slow, grounding breaths and close your eyes so you can pay attention to feeling your feet connect to the earth. Soften and relax the soles of your feet and picture sending roots down into the soil. Feel your torso long and strong like a tree trunk and notice the crown of your head lift towards the sky. Open your eyes and shift your weight onto one foot, placing the sole of the lifted foot either on the inside of your ankle, calf, or thigh above the knee. Gently press your foot and leg together to establish balance, and get creative with your arms - they can rest at your heart in prayer position, or extend like leaves towards the sun. Find inspiration for your pose from the trees you see around you - notice how they bend and sway to adapt to the wind and their environment. Give yourself permission to do the same.

Now as you hold the pose, notice your inner dialogue: what voice arises when you lose your balance? How tense or relaxed are you? Do you laugh or get angry when you fall over? If you were are tree, what kind would you be?

Honing your physical balance overlays where you struggle for personal balance in your life. How does your experience in tree pose speak to your creative practice and your relationship with yourself and others directly or indirectly involved with your work? What lessons can you learn about how you show up in your creative life from this simple practice?