My Tree (Pose) Needs Prop(ping) – Integrating Yoga & Fitness

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my tree (pose) needs prop(ping) – integrating yoga & fitness




writing this article and the subject of the article are sharing something in common, the need for time for the merging of ideas and recognitions to develop


The Question, and Short Answer

why, i asked myself, am i able to do tree, for a short time, in either my jazzercise or zumba class, but not so easily, in my yoga routine?

because in the former two, i wear shoes, and in the latter, i don’t!

shoulda been self-obvious beyond the purely descriptive –

but then, that’s part of why, for me, it’s a process 😉


Tree Pose with Multi-Use Tennis Shoes, Modification
Tree Pose with Multi-Use Tennis Shoes, Modification



this article is about the merging of bits of memories and theories, each finding enough fit with each other, to let me know something about my challenge balancing myself in tree pose (vrksasana)

writing this article became about not being able to write it, til i’d merged enough ideas of their lineage, within my own work, and thus, how that is satisfying my need to integrate fitness and yoga in my life

it seems both happen in fits of intuitive ahas! , after i’ve had tasty bits of knowledge and experience

the ground of my mind and heart has to be tilled just right, to grow the ideas and realizations that will sprout in this heated of most heated summers!

and of course, thankfully, some seeds grow easier and in less prepared soil, than others 😉


Memory Bits – The Pieces That Found Each Other


* running barefoot as a child, like a deer with endless grace and power

* jumping into a ditch with the aim to land on a ball and bounce up and out and onto the road – and twisting my ankle, giving it a memory groove i still cope with

* dashing through tall coastal grasses that used to be common in houston, even in neighborhoods, til i stuck my foot, got an infection, and had to have what appeared to me then as a HUGE needle and tetanus shot 😉

* reading and hearing stories of american indian children, who could grip any surface, rock or wet or uneven, with feet like fingers

* learning of how putting shoes on people used to being barefoot creates a difficult balance-learning curve

* finding and realizing i needed the right shoes to jog in a straight line

* shocked i couldn’t use the same style shoe in jazzercise

* amazed what split-sole – could even be called split-soul!  – shoes did for spinning turning moves in zumba classes

Tree Pose with Support Sandals, Modification
Tree Pose with Support Sandals, Modification

* finding “guy” style sandals that felt and looked good to me, letting my feet breathe and move almost “as if” barefoot, but with support i’d come to depend on

* surprised how, despite relatively flat feet, how less flat my feet really are vs solid support shoes, ie, watch-out! barefoot yoga poses! i might be swaying my tree, as my mind finds new grooves of proprioception 😉



slowly, as i prepared for this article, random bits of fitness info strung itself together :

* “balancing freedom and restraint” – from ray long, on his daily bandha site

“Knowledge of the body shows us where to expand and where to restrict movement. It also allows us to design a practice to fit our individual needs. That’s why working with a modified version of a particular pose is not a compromise—it’s accepting constraints. I don’t abandon a beneficial asana simply because it’s difficult. Rather, I use awareness of my limitations as a guide for determining how to work in the pose…”

“Since we also benefit from preparing the body for a pose, the journey itself becomes the reward….”

* concept of portability

“Another way to validate a theory is with a concept known as portability. In general, something that works in one lab should work in another (or it is suspect). What does this have to do with yoga? Sound biomechanical theories, such asPNF and reciprocal inhibition, can be incorporated into whatever style you practice and transported across muscle groups as well. On a smaller scale, something that expands the chest in one pose should work to enable a deeper breath in another pose.”

* interval / intermittent training

Intermittent Training is appealing because it offers rest as a part of the exercise. You get exercise credit for the resting time too. It is a great way for someone to begin exercise who has been inactive. It is not as intimidating.”

and –

1-10 intensity :

“is a completely personal scale depending on your own fitness levels and the type of interval training…

“For example a seasoned athlete may be training on improving his speed work, the sprint lasts for 15 seconds and his ‘10’ may be a flat-out sprint with the athlete going as fast as he or she can…

“Another example would be someone who has not exercised in a while decides to do intervals while walking; a 1 minute walk at a brisk pace may leave the person completely out of breath. This would be their 10.”


Blog Bursts

other’s blogs

it’s always amazing to me how bits of blog posts find themselves fitted into my thinking, it’s very encouraging about how people as a group, humanity, can create a type of synergistic plus!

* “shame-free yoga: yoga for your body” – on

obviously there “should” be no shame if one can’t put the sole of one foot all the way up the inside leg of the other leg, shouldn’t be…

Tree Pose with Sandals, Modification
Tree Pose with Sandals, Modification

but it happens; we get embarrassed or feel inadequate, and ashamed, because we can’t do “what’s expected”

i don’t always respond this way, but sometimes…

and this article does a great job of addressing some of those feelings in what i feel is one of the best articles i’ve seen on the subject – from a personal viewpoint, yet informatively clear

* “slow down” – on

it’s not much surprise to me, that both the two ladies that each run their own site (curvyyoga and flyingyogini) also run (sponsor?) the teachasana site, there’s a true kindredness that appeals to me from them

what this particular article says that appeals to me for my post today, is, “I am so busy and on the run that I cannot appreciate what the movement is bringing to me.”

kinda like an awareness of moments of unawareness 😉

my own blog

even from within my own blog, i now find material i’m glad i can reference back to, for me! 😉

* “i slept like a log, uh, tree (pose)

i must have a propensity for tree pose, cause i discovered i sleep that way (part of the time i assume) too!

if leaning against a wall is considered a common modification as needed, i can personally recommend this too – i guess i could call it, savasana-tree-mod 😉 (ideal for turning and twisting and flexing)

* “teaching yoga limitations is teaching awareness (a beginner’s view)

probably my gestation post leading to this post, where i lay out how needing to do/accept/use limitations (props) generates greater awareness on many levels, and, thus is a smart thing to do

this post today then, is an elaboration and integration from all-points-universe, why limitations can be a smart thing to embrace

* “muscle memory – a tidbit post # 5

muscle memory is also a precursor to this article, in that it also merges fitness, blog, and personal information, into an expanded view of what muscle memory means, in a good way (not merely as a restraint on further fitness enhancement due to physical adaptation)

info about muscle memory, thus now becomes a building block for me to my thoughts about why i do tree better in one type class than another, and how that differential can not only be useful, but good, overall

i wonder if that’s an underlying energy behind many things, like re-cycling 😉 things thought useless find themselves not only useful, but needed!


So What Does This Mean? – The Puzzle Picture

Simple Answer

i expected to have the same balance and control barefoot that i have with what i’ve worn daily since i was a small child, shoes –

and that gives rise to all the answer-bits below, that i’ve come to see, so far 😉


Patience – Huh?

these pieces, bits of blogs and essays and memories, had to have time to find how they’d fit, to answer my original question: why can i do tree so much better in one style class, than another?

at least, to find the answer, in the sorta coherent 😉 manner i’ve tried to present here

i knew, instinctively, and in a practical way, that shoes made a difference –

but i wasn’t giving myself leeway, or credit, or compassion, for using two distinctly different, if related, structured tools – my feet “bare”, and my feet “shod” – to do the same task

in this case, my, still rooting, tree pose, vrksasana 😉  [1]


Summary Details

learning is a process – i knew using shoes was easier for me in any dance class i did, that used tree pose as part of a cool-down routine, but i hadn’t tied all the following (from above) together to :

1) know why using or not using shoes was significant –

at least at a level that explained both the difficulty of unlearning old behavior (muscle memory) and learning new behavior (practicing and creating new neural/musculature patterns) –

ie, let the concept of portability apply itself in my own experience

Tree Pose with Multi-Use Tennis Shoes
Tree Pose with Multi-Use Tennis Shoes

2) to use the differences to my advantage

3) to realize i benefit both by

a) practicing bare foot (and teaching my feet to re-feel the earth) and

b) practicing with shoes (and gaining strength and balance from “within” my limitation)

Tree Pose Bare Feet
Tree Pose Bare Feet

4) slow down and enjoy both, my limitations of needing shoes, and my challenge of gaining bare-feet balance

5) to realize my increased exertion-learning level when bare-foot, is at my upper range, and thus good for me

6) and that an intermittent foot up/foot down learning-process for tree pose, is a sort of interval training, not a shameful inability, and thus, is also good for me

7) to accept that my shoe-based steadier tree pose continues to allow me to feel balanced and grounded, the good of which is not diminished by using the props that are my shoes

8) to remember, that new muscle memories are being created when i practice tree pose with bare feet, while also gaining strength and balance and confidence practicing tree pose with my shoes

9) that i can develop my range of adaptability, by embracing being able to do both modes


Final Thoughts

“Yoga balances freedom and restraint…” – ray long

“During and after the event, be sure to appreciate the abundance in your life. You have strength, wisdom, and a support structure that allows you to take the time to deepen your practice and further your education. What a blessing!” – via teachasana, by sage roundtree


being lucky, how lucky we are to have such benefits from the challenge of our limitations

not saying i want too much of a challenge, or limitations, but…

barefoot to shoes to barefoot to choosing?

i’m willing to handle that 😉

maybe that way, the little boy that ran like he thought he was a barefoot buck deer in an enchanted woods, and the young man steady in his properly chosen athletic shoes 😉 , can stand side by side, with a wink from one to the other 😉

namaste – con dios – god be with you



[1]  yoga journal’s extended information for each pose (click on the “show all” triangle icon) is exceptionally pertinent for me in regard to tree pose

included is,

* helpful info on how to keep your foot from sliding down your leg (when you don’t want it to 😉  )

* using the wall as a prop

* numerous benefits and cautions

and more – highly recommended!



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    • great idea! i’ve never tried that, but sheila keeps spotting ads for them and’s been real curious, plus if you like them, well! 😉

      not sure if there’s any stores with any round here, but mailorder should work too, any suggestions?

      thanks nancy 😉


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