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May 23, 2011

Connecting with Nature through TreeYoga

Sunstone Yoga Instructors

Husband and wife Hal Preussner and Debra Pruessner have taken yoga to new heights with the TreeYoga Multi-Sling (TYMS) and founding of TreeYoga.

An alternative to the posh treehouses by builder Roderick Romero ($50,000+) or the towering elevations of tree climbing, TreeYoga offers yogis a bare-bones, gentle arboreal experience. The padded slings support practitioners to hang loose and find steady footing on tree trunks and the surrounding ground. As in the yoga posture (asana) of the Tree Pose (Vrksasana), TreeYoga beckons us to reflect upon a core principle of yoga — balance. Gravity, the magnetic pull towards the earth that we energetically connect to through the root chakra (Muladhara), is another force that calls one’s attention when hanging from a tree like a ripe piece of fruit yearning to fall to the ground. Like trees and plants, yogis can root themselves down and stem upwards towards the sky. There is great beauty and playfulness in the flowering shapes of yogis sprouting from trees.

TreeYoga Inversions in Wimberley, Texas

Trees also offer a profound lesson in the quieting and stilling of the mind, another aim of yoga. Contemporary spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle has described meditating on natural forms as a method to find presence: “Look at a tree, a flower, a plant.  Allow nature to teach you stillness.”  (Stillness Speaks, 2003, p. 5).  Indeed, it was beneath the sheltering Bodhi tree that, for Buddhists, Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha (“the Enlightened one”).  The complete, vital presence that we cultivate through Pantanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga (or The Tree of Yoga) also finds analogy in a tree’s utter beingness. As in the pulitzer-poet Mary Oliver’s stanza: “The tree was a tree with happy leaves, and I was myself.” (Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me, 2002, p. 36), we strive in yoga to just “be” whatever we “are” fully.

Warrior 2 Pose on an Oak Tree, White Rock Lake, Dallas, Texas

Connecting with nature as a spiritual practice has implications for environmental consciousness and action. TreeYoga has helped strengthen the link to earth-friendly living by taking the mat outdoors and into nature. Tarzan would approve.

A version previously posted on Eco Chick and mebegreen.

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