Spending time around trees is healing; they help us to recover from illness and reduce our stress levels. They filter our air and reduce pollution, cool our cities, and purify our water. They bring the seasons into the city and remind us that our home is both earth and sky.
The bit of my book Yoga Through the Year that I enjoyed writing the most was the tree meditation poems. You'll find one of these meditation poems in the Tree Wisdom section of each of the eight seasonal chapters of the book.
Trees inspire us with life: they breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen; and we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Our breath connects us to trees. Even within the frantic rush of city life we can always find a moment of peace when we rest our gaze upon a tree.
I feel a real affinity with trees, so you can imagine how excited I was when Glennie Kindred honoured me by asking me to read through the manuscript of her forthcoming book Walking with Trees. This exquisitely illustrated book encourages us to take our meditation practice outside into the natural world. Glennie skilfully shows us how through contemplation we can form healing, nourishing and inspiring relationships with trees.
Have you got any books in your collection that when you pick them up it feels like meeting up with an old friend? I feel like that about one of Glennie's earlier books Earth Wisdom. My well-loved copy is looking a bit battered now because over the years I've referred to it so often for guidance and seasonal inspiration. Glennie's knowledge of the Wheel of the Year provided me with a deep well to draw upon when I was writing Yoga Through the Year.
Glennie was one of the first people I contacted to ask to endorse my book. You can imagine my delight when within about an hour of my emailing my request to her I received an email back saying she would be happy to consider endorsing the book. She also told me that yoga had become an increasingly important part of her life. You can read Glennie's endorsement of my book on the Praise Page of my website.
Another book that was often to hand when I was writing Yoga Through the Year was Jane Gifford's book, The Celtic Wisdom of Trees: Mysteries, Magic and Medicine. The book is a wonderful resource, rich with facts, myths, wisdom, and Jane's stunning photographs.
In his book, The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How They Communicate, Forester and author Peter Wohlleben makes the case that trees are social beings. Drawing on ground-breaking scientific discoveries he describes how trees are like human families; tree parents living together with their children, communicating with them, supporting them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warning each other of impending danger.
In this blog post I have given some suggestions for good tree reads, but best of all is to get out and about and spend time around trees. Yoga is union and trees are a living, breathing embodiment of this union. Trees live life in the slow lane, and this makes them wonderful yoga teachers. Is it any coincidence that the Buddha found enlightenment under a tree?
The autumn-winter period is a time of drawing inwards, resting and recuperating. Recently, in a bid to stay healthy, happy, and energised over the winter months, I've been meditating on the following seasonal meditation questions:
Whilst pondering on the question "Which yoga practices will energise me and help to banish the winter blues?", it popped in to my mind that a few years ago I'd spent a whole term teaching yoga inspired by the theme: Break out of your Slump. So later I tracked down a slightly dusty, bright pink folder of my Break out of your Slump teaching notes. Below you'll find one of the practices from the folder, I've been using it as my early morning yoga practice over the past few days. I've found it perfect for this autumn-winter time as its gentleness honours my natural tendency to want to hibernate at this time of year, whilst at the same time it includes chest opening poses to avoid the winter slump and keep my heart open.
Here are my teaching notes/aide memoire for the practice. Excuse their unpolished nature, but they were originally intended for my eyes only, but they'll give you an idea of what the practice is like.
Sharing seasonal yoga ideas and inspiration with you through the year...
Please feel free to share ideas and resources that you find in my blog, but please do acknowledge me and my website as their source. Thanks!
Disclaimer: if you have any concerns about your health or suitability to do yoga, please consult a medical professional before attempting any of the yoga routines in this blog.