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Vrkasana

Tree Pose and Prana as Elements of Nature

     The Self as life supports the tree,
     which stands firm and enjoys the nourishment it receives.
         From Verse 11.1 of Chapter VI of Chandogya Upanishad1

     Prana burns as fire; he shines as the sun;
     He rains as the cloud; he blows as the wind;
     He crashes as the thunder in the sky.
     He is the earth; he has form and no form;
     Prana is immortality.
           Verse 5 of Question II of Prashna Upanishad1

     I am the sweet fragrance in the earth and the radiance of fire;
     I am the life in every creature and the striving of the spiritual aspirant.
           Verse 9 of Chapter 7 of The Bhagavad Gita2



THE PRACTICE


Vrkasana Nature Image 1

Start
Move into your own version of the Tree Pose. That is, place your leg in a position that is comfortable for you – perhaps with your toes resting on the floor, with your foot resting against your ankle, inner lower leg or inner upper leg, or with your leg in the “half-lotus” position. Choose a version that will feel stable and comfortable. Bring your hands to rest on your chest, palms facing inwards and one hand covering the other and fingers pointing to the shoulder of the other hand. Either close your eyes (if your balance is good enough for this) or let your gaze rest on a convenient spot in your line of sight.


Imagine yourself as a tree
Imagine yourself as a tree with roots connecting you down into the earth from which you draw nutrients and water. Imagine yourself with a supple and resilient trunk and branches which have living cells filled with water-based fluid. Imagine branches sub-divide becoming smaller branches and eventually twigs, supporting leaves and air all around your trunk, branches, twigs and leaves. Imagine lots of leaves – surfaces for receiving sunlight and exchanging gas molecules with the air.







Vrkasana Nature Image 2
Fire within
Bring your awareness to within yourself – and imagine (or feel) the fire within. Within each living cell, metabolism occurs – the stores of chemical energy are “burned” (i.e. oxidized) to release stored packets of sunlight energy to power all the different life processes. Imagine this fire within as life within and the giver of life to all within you. Feel your warmth (from this fire within) and feel your life. Feel and enjoy.

Air around
Lift your arms into the air above your head and part your hands. Bring your awareness to the air around you. Feel or imagine the air around your trunk, your branches, your twigs and leaves. Feel or imagine gentle air currents or breezes flowing around you and between your branches, twigs and leaves. Imagine your leaves gently caressed by air currents – and imagine the gas molecules you need being absorbed by your surfaces and the same surfaces giving to the air the gas molecules you have in surplus. Feel your connection with the air around – feel and enjoy.

Sun shining
Imagine a sun shining overhead and widen your arms sideways as though to receive sunlight from the sun above. Imagine the sunlight shining on you, shining on your leaves. Imagine receiving the gift of energy from the sun. Imagine your leaves receiving sunlight and storing it in chemical bonds for transport to, and use throughout, your whole being. Feel (or imagine) the connection between the energy within and the energy in the sun – feel and enjoy.

Rain falling
Imagine that a rain-cloud moves overhead and lower your arms sideways to about 45degrees from your sides – as you do this, rotate your arms so your palms end up facing downwards. Imagine warm gentle rain falling on you, your leaves, your branches – washing dust and grime from you, washing you clean. Feel the rain rinsing and refreshing you – feel and enjoy.

Earth nourishing
Lower your arms to bring your hands just in front of your lower trunk – one hand in front of the other, palms facing your trunk and fingers pointing to the opposite foot. Imagine your roots branching into smaller and smaller rootlets connecting you deep and wide into the earth. Imagine your roots drawing nutrients and rainwater from the soil. Imagine your roots drawing nurturing from the earth – feel this nurturing flow up into the whole of your being. Feel and enjoy your connection with the earth.

Sap transporting
Imagine the sap, mostly water from rain, rising up through you from your roots – bringing nutrients and water from the earth to all parts of your being and bathing all parts of your being. Imagining this, slowly lift your arms sideways until your arms are overhead, rotating your arms as you do so that your palms end up facing. Imagine your sap connecting with your leaves and receiving from them gas molecules from the air (all around), and energy packets (now in chemical bonds) from the sun. Imagine sap from your leaves going to all parts of your being – bringing gas molecules and energy packets to all parts of your being. Imagining this, bring your palms together and slowly bring your hands down to in front of your chest.


Vrkasana Nature Image 3
Unity
Bring your awareness to the fire within – the release of energy from chemical bonds occurring in all living cells of your being and giving life to all parts of your being. Without the oxygen molecules from the air, this release of energy could not happen – the fire within is dependent on, connected to, and thus one with, the air all around. There is unity between the fire within and the air all around. The fire within is the release of energy packets from the sun that have been stored in chemical bonds – the fire within is dependent on, connected to and thus one with the sun. There is unity between the fire within and the sun. The fire within occurs in a watery base, and depends on components brought to it by a water-based fluid – this water comes from the rain. The fire within is dependent on, connected to, and thus one with the rain. The fire within, and the use of the fire within, requires nutrients drawn from the earth. The fire within is dependent on, connected to and thus one with the earth. The earth, the rain, the sun, the air and the fire all one unity. Feel and enjoy the unity of all.


Peacefully
When you are ready, bring your awareness back to your physical body, your standing leg and the foot connecting you down into the ground. Return the foot of your bent leg back to the floor beside your other foot. Lower your arms. Pause and enjoy how you feel – then repeat the exercise with the other leg lifted into the tree pose position.


     They who see themselves in all and all in them
     help others through spiritual osmosis to realize the Self themselves.
           From Verse 8 of [2] of Part 1 of Katha Upanishad1


Reference
1 “The Upanishads” trans by Eknath Easwaran Pub: Arkana, Penguin Books.
2 “The Bhagavad Gita” trans by Eknath Easwaran Pub: Arkana, Penguin Books.