According to Chinese tradition, the autumn season is associated with the emotions of both courage and sadness, the lung organ, the metal element, and the change in trees. Fall is upon us and is set to arrive September 23rd. At this time, we see the biggest change in the trees, in which they shed their leaves to conserve resources and to protect themselves. Colleen might as well be called a professional forest bather because she has run through, cycled through, sat with, meditated with, and done yoga in the forest her entire life. When Colleen was asked what her favorite tree is, she responded…”Aspens are my favorite tree or maybe the Blue Spruce or the Lodgepole Pine or the Ponderosa Pine or…just maybe the apple and pear trees.” We think it’s safe to say she loves them all!
Here are a few lessons from the trees:
- Take your Time. Slow Down. Just be and trust the process. The California Redwood trees are thousands of years old, but they didn’t get to where they are now by trying to beat the race. They grew with time and persistence.
- Be Patient. The secret to the beauty of trees is undoubtably patience.
- Weather the storm. Hang in there and have trust in your roots. Ground yourself when troubled.
- Create a tree-munity: All trees, plants and animals are constantly connected, communicating and supporting one another. The Trembling Giant, or Pando, is a forest of quaking Aspens in Utah and the world’s largest living organism, all connected by a single ongoing root.
- Adapt and regenerate. We as humans, just like trees, have the ability to self heal.
- Stand tall. Always have pride and set your sights high. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
Winter dormancy is a crucial part of the on going cycle. Rest and recuperation are just as important as performing and pushing yourself.
- Unfurl your leaves. Let go! Let go of anything that no longer serves you and let it go for good.
- Go with the flow. Open your senses and feel the breeze. Flow with it and trust in the adventure of life, wherever it may take you.
You can become one with the trees at any time. Beyond just doing cardio outside or forest bathing, interact with the trees by getting your stretch on in the fresh air. A tree makes the perfect prop for targeting tight muscles. Here are a few quick stretches you can do with the help of a tree, shown by our much loved yoga instructor Gretchen Spiro.
- Standing Pigeon Pose: This pose has many health benefits. Physically, it stretches the hip flexors, opens the glutes, and relaxes the piriformis and psoas muscles. Internally, it stimulates the abdominal organs and aids in digestion. You should be able to feel this stretch throughout your shoulders, all the way down to your fingers.
- Triangle Pose: This pose can help alleviate lower back pain and really stretch out all those muscles connected throughout your rib cage. Remember to take your time in this pose and really emphasize the stretch with each breath. This pose also stretches the groins, hamstrings and hips.
Standing Table Top: You can stand with your feet side by side or you can cross the legs behind each other, which will help to stretch those pesky tight hamstrings, which is good news for runners! This pose stretches muscles in lower, mid and upper back. It relieves compression and pain in the entire back area. Relieves neck and shoulder tension, lengthens the hamstrings and loosens the shoulder joints, improving flexibility and range of motion. It is important to cue engagement of the core to allow chest expansion without constricting the space between the shoulder blades. Also remember that in order to get the best stretch, ensure your back is parallel to the floor and legs are perpendicular to the floor.
- Open Heart & Soul Pose: Allow this last pose to help open your chakras. Place your hands on two trees perfectly spaced apart for you to get a good stretch while maintaining balance and sturdiness. Take a deep breath and release slowly as you lean forward into the trees with arms up in a Y shape. Let go of anything that is no longer serving you. This will help stretch your deltoids, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, lower back, the glutes all the way down to your toes. This stretch opens up the entire body!
When I am Among the Trees
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”
~ Mary Oliver ~