August 8, 2011

Around The World In 30 Asanas: Tree Pose in Redwood City. ~ Joanne O.S Kelly

Photo: Joanne O.S Kelly

One of a series in Around The World In 30 Asanas

Who doesn’t love trees?

They humbly provide us with oxygen, decorate the loveliest skylines, offer the occasional fruit, perfume the air with fresh sweet scents…

Best of all, they remind us of how important it is to be rooted—ever reaching for the stars (unless it’s a weeping willow, in which case, it’s kinda over the whole ‘stars’ thing, and much prefers gettin’ back to its roots!).


Though I landed in San Francisco, where the first thing I noticed was the distinct smell of pine, Redwood City makes it as the inaugural location of this series. It’s where my friends are raising their newborn cutie pie, Kenji, where they have regular BBQs and pool parties year round, and where I spent my first week in the States, having just gotten back from a year in the Middle East.

A year abroad can be incredibly beneficial, but you never quite know how until you go and do it. For me, it was a year of quiet isolation and contemplation where I was able to more clearly see the steps I needed to take to achieve certain goals, spiritual and otherwise. Once I had saved the money, I knew I needed to see family and friends.

Photo: Joanne O.S Kelly

I also realized my best gifts to my community are writing and yoga. So, I decided to take one year to dedicate to friends and family, yoga studies and writing— this way, when I do settle for a while next year, I’ll have all the skills and talents for a proper offering.

First Stop, Redwood City.

Family life here is set to the backdrop of green sprawling park spaces and huge bodies of water, all under the invigorating west coast sunshine.

It’s never too hot or too cold in this area, so comfy clothes, outdoor exercise and amazing flora and fauna abound.

Aesthetically, I was inspired by all the tall woody friends, literally popping up at every corner. The Bay/Peninsula area was also the last place I lived before taking a year to teach kindergarten in the UAE (one of the few countries in the Middle East that did not go agro during the Arab Spring!).

So, on a deeper level of awareness, this is one of my several second homes, where I’ve many cherished memories and people I love.  And during this trip, with the latest addition to the family on board, my friends were especially warm and patient, loving and content. I felt part of their family, relishing in the comforting stability of it all (not to mention all the yummy food!), looking forward to the future and all the possibilities it holds.

The Pose: Vrksasana.

When coming into Vrksasana (tree pose), it’s the same kind of vibe. We ground the standing leg deep into the earth, energize our ‘trunk’ by contracting the muscles, and imagine a nurturing presence moving up from the bottoms of the feet to the tops of our heads.

With eyes closed, explore the subtleties of alignment and challenges of balance. I chose Anjali mudra for my hands, a deeply respectful hand position, enabling feelings of peace and quietude.

Photo: Joanne O.S Kelly

But, if you choose to expand the arms and reach the fingers up toward the sky, the pose completely changes feeling.  The chest and heart open and the arms are free to stretch into infinity, giving you the sense of liberation and growth.

Some of the benefits of Vrksasana

  • Improves balance
  • Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
  • Stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders
  • Relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet
  • Gives a sense of grounding and growth
  • High blood pressure: Don’t raise arms overhead

Just be careful if you suffer from any of the following

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Low blood pressure

Stay tuned for the next installation of Around the World in 30 Asanas, where I’ll be hitting up my homelands: Ewa Beach, Hawaii!


Joanne O.S. Kelly is a Hawaiian yogini/writer traveling the world to visit family & friends, and offer service through yoga along the way.  You can check out the journey on The Weekly Jo or Yoga Lovin’, or connect on Facebook!

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