Written by Dr. Nancy Ash, Worldwide Director of NewEarth University – a new-paradigm learning initiative of the greater, NewEarth Project. [Reprinted with permission, excerpted from the column, Doing a 360: Sacred Spherical Strategies for Optimal Living in Dayspring, from the International Ministry, Alliance of Divine Love, Sept. Issue, 2008, pg. 4, Copyright©]
God’s Masterpiece: a magnanimous 360° painting surrounds us as far as the eyes can see, as life is aglow with shades of yellow, orange, red, purple and green. The beauty of a colorful fall landscape in the southern hemisphere reflects the changing of a season as floating leaves bring attention to our precious trees.
In most sacred traditions, and particularly in ancient yogic philosophy, the tree is a powerful metaphor, as in the famous eight limbs of yoga. Roots represent the foundation of yamas and niyamas, Sanskrit words meaning many restrictions and observances. Respectively, one of the yamas is non-violence, not harming others; one of the niyamas is honesty and duty. Essentially the yogic aspirant must first be grounded in this understanding and practice accordingly. In contemporary times one might say: “Do the right thing.”
Next is asana, (as in the poses of hatha yoga) like the tree posture for an example, which is represented by the trunk of a tree. Here we stand strong and powerful like a tree in a physically dense body that our Soul uses during life on the Earth plane.
The fourth of the eight limbs is pranayama. A metaphor for pranayama (yoga breathing disciplines) is the bark of the tree. Without the bark a tree dies. It needs the vital prana (life force) to thrive. Next, Pratyahara represents the branches and subsequently Dharana, the leaves. The buds with their promise of fruit represent Dhyana, which is the seventh limb and meditative state for enlightenment. Last but not least is that delicious fruit of Samadhi, a Super-conscious state or union with Source.
A sacred strategy to align with Mother Earth on Earth Day is to contemplate and then practice the healing tree posture. This fundamental asana is particularly important as it teaches the essential wisdom of trees: two directions of growth. When we stand in it, we meditate on the sensation of our legs and feet sinking into the ground as roots growing downward to our Mother Earth. Simultaneously we stretch upward to the sky—the way all trees grow. If roots don’t get enough water and nutrients, they wither and the tree will fall.
If you are new to yoga practice, use a wall or chair (or trunk of a tree!) to hold onto so you won’t fall over. Beginners may place one foot (the heel portion) gently on top of the other foot to assist accomplishing the pose (as in the photo).
In any case, press the medial side (inside) of the bottom foot firmly down… As you focus on your own roots, place palms together at your heart center and concentrate while breathing slowly. Feel the upper body rise from your core or center. Raise your arms as you deepen the experience of being strong as a tree. Become a tree. That’s right – ‘be’ a beautiful tree that you see in your sphere of life. Without trees we would not have oxygen. We need trees! So get out there and plant one this Earth Day… or in the very least: Do some yoga and be a tree.
Benefits of this asana: In tree posture we strengthen our lower body bones and muscles, improve balance, and increase flexibility to our upper body like swaying branches in the wind. And, we connect to the Earth.
Note: Always consult your physician before starting any exercise plan, and find a qualified teacher to help you. (Special thanks to longtime friend and yogini, Rev. Naomi Iris Lynn for demonstrating this asana. Photos and asana drawing from the private collection of Nancy Ash.)
Yours in the Greatest Degree of Love, Nancy
Reverend Dr. Nancy Ash, DD, PhD is a modern day mystic, pioneering yogini and midwife to the new paradigm since the 1970s. Her heart-centered voice is heard worldwide as a passionate new-thought-leader, author/poet, web tv host and former radio co-host championing peace for all women, men and children on this planet. Dr. Ash is worldwide executive director of the NewEarth University, the planetary hub for wisdom-keeping of the greater, NewEarth Project. Rev. Dr. Ash is a professor, graduate/postgrad advisor and Dean of the School of Interspiritual Studies at New Earth Theological University (formerly, Metropolitan University).
In tandem with decades of multi-dimensional work as a “Oneness advocate” in the field of evolutionary consciousness, Nancy is deeply honored to serve on the founding Board of Trustees for the International Tribunal for Natural Justice (ITNJ), to ensure that human rights are fairly and nobly upheld, restoring justice-making to the people. She feels that serving in this capacity is an enormous responsibility steeped in integrity, diligence and steadfast devotion to a better world.
Dr. Ash resides in enchanted mountains of New Mexico and has authored two books: Garland of Grace: Sitting with the Dying Sun, and Doing a 360: Turning Your Life Around to Follow Soul’s Purpose. For more information: click here
Happy Earth Day! from all of us at New Earth