'The first time we went to practice yoga under a tree I was really tired, not a good place from which to start practicing yoga. It was springtime, and somewhat reticently we stood before a young, vibrantly green, pine tree. This pine was a little removed from the rest of the trees and its cone-bearing branches were dancing lightly in the breeze. At first we didn't notice anything particularly unusual. We performed our exercises, and then, after a little pause, sat ourselves down to meditate. Suddenly, like a breaking wave, a feeling of happiness and power came over our little group, in a way that I have seldom experienced. My exhaustion was swept away, and we all agreed that the tree had infected us all with its vibrancy, awakening our joie de vivre.'
As will become clear during the rest of this book, and as already introduced, every species of tree embodies particular qualities and energies, and has its own voice. In general terms, for example, the pine is a spirited warrior, full of vigour. The beech exudes stability and discipline, while the elm supports our ability to communicate. So it makes sense to practice exercises that give us courage under a pine, and exercises to help us to be grounded and help our clarity under a beech. The tree and the qualities that it radiates will support us in realising such goals.
Our initial idea with tree yoga is to first decide which exercises you want to do, and then go outside to find a tree whose energies will support the intention behind the exercises you have chosen. If possible, practice them under, or at least nearby, the tree that you find. To help you identify the trees in this book, we have included photos and close-up illustrations.
Another way of working with tree yoga is just to go outside and find one of the twelve species included in this book, one that grabs your attention, and then carry out the exercises suggested for that particular species.
Of course, if neither of the above is possible, you can always do the exercises at home and visualise the type of tree that you want to work with. Imagination can sometimes create the same effects as reality.
A fourth way to work with tree yoga is to go outside and find a tree that you feel connected to, regardless of whether it is one of the twelve trees included in the book. Spend some time and try to get a sense of your chosen tree's energies, and then perform the exercises from the book that go with those energies.
The sequences that have been put together in this book all come from Yogi Bhajan's Kundalini Yoga. None of them are Kriyas in the sense that they have to be done in strict order. Rather, any exercise that we give here can happily be done on its own. If you feel inspired to know more about Kundalini Yoga, you will find a complete description and introduction in: Kundalini Yoga: A Simple Guide to the Yoga of Awareness: The Flow of Eternal Power: A Simple Guide to the Yoga of Awareness as Taught by Yogi Bhajan, Ph. D. by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa, Penguin Group 1998. Or chose one of the titles given at the end of this book.
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