Lessons from nature are all around us.
When we first drove into the campground at Redwoods National and State Park, tired after two days of road tripping, I admit it felt...underwhelming. Tall, dense, damp trees? We camp in that all the time over on the Olympic Peninsula.
It wasn't until the next morning, well rested and ritual cup of coffee in hand, that we began to hike. If you've had the pleasure of visiting the coastal redwoods, you may understand what happened as we walked up to our first giant tree: I wept. Our children playing at the base of this unfathomable giant, the comfort I felt in that grounded permanence left me content and at peace in the connection with and healing power of nature. Tree medicine, indeed.
It gets better. I have a thing for found natural objects, especially pinecones, they have often come to me like talismans. Imagine my delight when I started looking on the ground, finding these tiny, less than one inch, pinecones. Yes, you heard that right: a redwood tree - a tree that can grow to 300+ feet - starts from a cone smaller than my thumb.
So often patients come to me feeling sick, fatigued...not themselves. Something is off and they sense the answer is nearby. They know they need to make lifestyle changes, they are willing to look at their habits, but they are simply confused about where to start. They are overwhelmed.
Think of the redwood tree. The start can be small. The start can be a single, small step.
It can. I see it all the time.
15 extra minutes of sleep, a new vegetable you've never tried, an extra glass of water, a walk instead of a sugary treat, a phone call to someone you want to reconnect with, a trip to the art supply store...one step is all it takes, one step followed by another.
Thankfully we don't need to wait hundreds of years to see progress in our own health, we simply need to begin.
Here's one small step you can take: join me for a PranaVis Medicine workshop. Yoga for Anxiety - Saturday, May 21 at 2:30-4:30pm, held at one of my favorite studios, Three Trees Yoga, in Federal Way. If anxiety is a regular part of your life, you can expect to walk away with many small step ideas and you'll be rested after an hour of gentle, restorative practice. See here for details and registration.
Or try this on for size, your monthly one small step.
Tree pose, or Vrksasana. (Vreek-sha-sa-na)
This pose. Steady and grounded, like the tall giants of the redwood forest.
- Preferably in bare feet, stand at the top of your mat (or on the grass, or the rug, or in the grocery line...trust me, I do that all the time), feet hip width distance apart.
- Shift your weight to one foot. Make contact to the floor with all four corners of that foot - the base of the big toe, the base of the pinky toe, the inside and outside of the heel.
- Gently engage your thigh muscles (your quadriceps.)
- Gently draw your low belly back towards your spine.
- Lift through your sternum, the area over your heart.
- Fix your gaze at a still point in space in front of you. (This point is called your drishti...there's your Sanskrit lesson for the day!)
- Begin to lift your opposite foot. Maybe bring the heel to your standing ankle, like a kickstand. Maybe bring your foot to your calf...or rest it gently in your upper thigh. Maybe use a wall! (Just don't bring your lifted foot to your standing knee, that can put undo stress on the joint.)
- Check in with your shoulders - gently lengthen them away from your ears.
- Hands can sit on your hips, together at your heart, or lifted up over head.
- Remember to breathe. Always. Hold the posture for 3-4 breaths per side and slowly, with control, come back to standing.
Tree pose, once a day. It will bring you steadiness, improved balance, fluidity, maybe even some laughter...especially when the proverbial wind blows.
Your one small step. Enjoy the month.