We love celebrating national holidays, especially when they can remind us to get back to our roots. On May 16th, it’s National Love a Tree Day. Observance of this holiday encourages us to care for our trees and maybe even plant new ones. Trees are great symbols of strength and power. Spend this day of honoring trees in yoga poses that allow you to embody this strength.
The first (and most fitting) is a tree pose or Vrksasana. What’s a day of celebrating trees without stepping into a pose that strengthens your legs and helps you feel centered and grounded?
To get into tree pose, start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), then bend your right knee and place your right foot on your left inner thigh or calf (not the knee!). Make sure to pay attention to the alignment of your hips. You don’t want your right hip to jut up, so draw it down so that it’s square with your left hip. Check in with your pelvis. If it’s pushed forward or back, remember to tuck your tailbone down and draw your belly button in towards your spine slightly. Once your alignment is correct, fold your hands at your heart or above your head with your eyes drawn upwards. Hold the tree pose for 5-10 breaths, then release back into Tadasana. Repeat on the other side.
Tree pose is an excellent way to feel empowered on Love a Tree Day. It builds confidence, boosts energy, and relaxes the mind so you can take on anything. It also helps you embody the strength of trees by building the muscles in your core, thighs, and butt. Now, make like a tree…and leave for that tree pose.
Side Plank with Tree Legs
The name says it all! To achieve this pose, start in side plank with your left hand on the ground. Then, bend your right knee and place your right foot on your inner left thigh or calf. A few words of caution: Just like tree pose, don’t place your foot on your knee. And keep your hips up, making sure they don’t sag to the ground, even with the pressure of your right foot. Keeping your shoulders, back, hips, and legs in one straight line is part of the challenge of this side plank variation.
Not only does this pose build strength in your core and arms, but it also improves your balance. Practicing this pose several times a week can give you the powerful feeling that trees throw out.
Ground your feet into the Earth with Eagle Pose (Garudasana), imagining roots growing from your feet to the ground beneath you. This practice will present you with a sense of peace, balance, and centeredness.
For Eagle Pose, cross your right arm under your left and twist your forearms together until you can grasp your hands together. Lift your elbows in line with your shoulders and pull your shoulders back so you can almost feel your shoulder blades touch. Shift your weight on your left leg, then, on an inhale, cross your right leg over your left thigh. Hook your right foot around the edge of your left calf. Then, sink down as far as you can. Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths, then switch sides.
Revolved Lunge Pose
During the spring, trees bloom and stretch open their branches. Try revolved lunge pose (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana) on Love a Tree Day to achieve this same openness in your chest and heart. Start in a high lunge with your hands folded in front of your heart. Lean forward, then twist to the right. Hook your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh. Alternatively, you can place your left hand on the ground on the outside of your right foot while you stretch your right hand up to the sky for more of a chest opener. Hold this pose of 5-10 breaths, then repeat on your left side.
Lord of the Dance Pose
Without a doubt, trees are grounded into the Earth, and it takes a lot of force to uproot them. They also stretch toward the heavens, acting as symbols of striving for more. We can learn from trees—we need to be both grounded in the moment and dream and strive for better things.
A great yoga pose to embody this connection between Earth and sky is the Lord of the Dance pose (Natarajasana). With one leg grounding down and one arm stretching upward, it helps your body find balance. Find a step-by-step guide of this glorious pose on Yoga Journal.
Embodying the Power of Trees
Sometimes national holidays can be ridiculous (did you know there was a National Bobblehead Day?), but other times they can bring awareness to great causes. Love a Tree Day reminds us to appreciate the beauty, strength, and power of the trees we often take for granted.
Take a few minutes this Love a Tree Day to practice yoga to build your inner strength. These five poses can help you feel grounded and connected to the Earth. Consider practicing outside under a tree. Once you finish these five poses, give the tree a hug or plant a new one in a place that needs a little more love.
If you enjoyed these yoga poses, join us every day of the week for an online yoga class at Health Yoga Life.