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An Honest Tree Pose

June 1, 2011

Asana practice requires honesty, and not only the honorable kind, but the you-can’t-hide-from-yourself, pretend, or be in denial kind of honesty. It also requires a non-grasping attitude, a greed-less approach, not as in sharing well with others, but as in accepting each moment with appreciation in exactly the way it is in that moment instead of wanting it to be another way.

Honesty and non-greed are two of the five Yamas of yoga, the ethical principals to follow in life. Honesty/truthfulness is called Satya. Non-greed, non-grasping and non-hoarding is called Aparigraha. These two principals fall easily into our life every day. The hard part is adhering to them.

Our yogasana practice is the perfect opportunity to apply these principals, or perhaps discover just how hard it is to follow them. Any pose will reveal these principals if you look closely, but for our example, let’s look at Vrksasana, Tree pose.

Stand in Tadasana, Mountain pose. While the legs are straight, the front points of the pelvis are squared equally to the front. Once you move into Vrksasana however, the balance required on one foot and the image your Ego is chasing may distract you from keeping your pelvis squared to the front. Re-squaring your pelvis most likely requires your bent knee to come forward somewhat. Chasing the image of having your bent knee far out to the side while your pelvis is squared to the front will cause your lumbar spine to sway.

But Satya and Aparigraha will build an honest tree. While being honest with yourself, accept the level of opening your hip has today, and accept the opening it does not have today. With the pelvis squared to the front and buttocks down, the hip joint is placed in the proper position to open only at the hip joint, without secret tricks to make it look as if the hip is open further. Holding the attitude of non-grasping, you release any image in the mind’s eye, and stop chasing after an accomplishment. Instead, you honor your body with present moment awareness, and acceptance. Now the real opening begins, not only in the hip joint, but towards the Soul.

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