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May 29- Memorial Day Thanks - Tree Pose Redux - Greens From The Garden

Memorial Day, by definition, is “a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered”. I believe that we have expanded that to generally honor those who are no longer with us who have served. It has also become a day where we pause and say thank you to those who are actively serving.

In a time when everything seems to be politicized, I would suggest that this Memorial Day, we set politics aside, and express our gratitude for all who have served valiantly and honestly; those who are living or those who have passed on. Some may think that discussing Memorial Day is tough for some yogis since it involves discussion around war.

We can give thanks to our soldiers and veterans, and talk about the importance of world peace while practicing.

As we practice on Memorial day we can take the opportunity to pause and remember what we have to be grateful for. As we take this pause, we can send peace and thanks to those serving and their families.

I talk about my Dad often in this blog. We lost him in 2017. He was a literature professor and a self-proclaimed socialist. He made mainstream democrats of today look right of Attila the Hun. He joined marches for civil rights in the 60’s, protested against the treatment of farm workers in the 70’s, protested nuclear weapons in the 70’s and 80’s and, was a proud Air Force veteran (served in Germany in the Korean Conflict) and a card-carrying member of the NRA (although not in the past 20 years of his life as he believed in smart gun laws and got angry and ripped up his card when the NRA would not consider this.) He was human. He was proud of his service and his fellow servicemen.

I salute my dad, my father-in-law (a deceased navy veteran) and all of my family and friends who have served.

Our Practice – Tree Pose Redux

I know I said I was not going to focus on tree pose (vrksasana) in the blog for awhile (and yes there is that darn birthday crown again), but when I think about my Dad and yoga in the same breath (as in writing the blog) or in the context of yoga, I always think of this story (which many of you have heard):

Tree pose makes me laugh every time I do it as it makes me think of my dad. When I visited my parents in Florida, he would sometimes be sitting in his chair just off the lanai when I was practicing. He would tease (heckle) me in the colorful way that only he could and, while I was trying to be oh so meditative or yogic, I would just start to laugh so hard and fall over. When I do tree now and find myself tensing up or not finding my balance, I remember those days and smile and it always serves to straighten and strengthen my pose.

Tree pose is a hip opening pose as well as a balance. We usually warm up with some other hip openers to prepare (figure four, lizard, knee to sky in down dog) and come to tree pose as a “peak” pose.

Tree pose helps strengthen our core and legs and stretches our groin and opens our hips. Building balance is important especially as we age; balance, along with a strong core, will help keep us active and healthy for a long time!

  • Start in mountain pose (tadasana), hands at heart center. Check in with your alignment head to feet, and that your feet are rooted into the floor evenly through all four corners.

  • Begin to shift your weight into your right foot, lifting your left foot off the floor. Keep your right leg straight but don't lock the knee.

  • Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot high onto your ankle, calf or inner right thigh. If on the ankle, you can keep your toes on the floor, hip is open to the side.

  • Press your foot into your leg and your leg into the thigh, engage your core, focus on your drishti (focus point that is not moving). Take 5-10 breaths, adding your arms (branches). Remember, most important to maintain humor, smile and breathe.

  • Don’t forget the other side.

If you are looking for ways to vary your tree pose, check out this article from Yoga Journal with some variations, we will try some in class.

Meditation – Honoring Heros

"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom." – Bob Dylan

"Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay." – Barack Obama

Nurturing with Food – Spring Greens From the Garden!!

Peter picked our first batch of garden lettuce today. For a person whose favorite food is lettuce, this is like food heaven. The fresher the ingredients, the simpler the salad. Nothing better with these than a sprinkle of kosher salt, some fresh ground pepper, a splash of your “good” olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. My son Sam skips the acid, a habit he picked up in Italy telling us that “Italians don’t use vinegar, Mom”….or I guess the ones he met don’t.

No recipe required 😊

See you on the mat


Julia Anne

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