In the meadow at dusk

Aug 15, 2016
A first-hand account of the calming practice of Tree Yoga written by the Land Trust's Development Associate, Jana Hemphill.

By Jana Hemphill

The wind rustles through the trees. Gravel crunches under each footstep. As I think about the work tasks I need to complete tomorrow, the household chores that are piling up, I let them slide through my consciousness, as instructed. Am I walking too fast? Too slow? How long is this path? What was that bird? I keep letting the thoughts slip away. This is how my first experience at the Deschutes Land Trust’s Tree Yoga class at Indian Ford Meadow begins.

Tree yoga at Indian Ford Meadow Preserve. Photo: Jay Mather.
Tree yoga at Indian Ford Meadow Preserve. Photo: Jay Mather.
Once the class is settled amongst a beautiful stand of Ponderosa Pines, facing those iconic Three Sisters, volunteer yoga instructor Maret Pajutee leads us through some gentle yoga stretches. With every shoulder roll, I feel the tension of the week sliding away. It amazes me how the peacefulness of the meadow adds to the general calm of a yoga class. This is the most relaxed I’ve felt in weeks.

Why is it called Tree Yoga? We are about to find out. Standing next to my Ponderosa with gardening gloves on for protection, we go through poses like Warrior Two and Downward Facing Dog, stabilizing ourselves with the trees. Poses that can be difficult on the joints or ones that have been difficult in the past are easier with these trees as a prop. Other poses, like Cat and Cow, feel like completely new moves, as different muscles are stretched. I look up the trunk of my tree, branches waving with the wind, the clouds moving swiftly by. Breathe in, breathe out.

The class meanders along, like Indian Ford Creek does in front of us. There is no competition, no judgments being made. Each individual can push themselves as much or as little as they please. The class is a combination of people who do yoga on a regular basis, those who haven’t done it in several years, and some in between.

As the day comes to an end, so does the class. We gather to watch the sunset glow over Black Butte, sipping peppermint tea and comparing notes on the class. How we enjoyed the deeper connection with nature. The way it makes it easier to do yoga with a replaced hip. The difficulty of ignoring a tuft of grass underneath your yoga mat. How great it is to stare up at the big, blue sky instead of a yoga studio ceiling.

What happens in the meadow at dusk? Everything.