Tree Pose and Poetry

Autumn’s Beauty. The streets are lined with a parade of maroon and gold. Tree pose is calling!

I teach at an environmental school, so tree pose is one of my favorite balancing poses. Many times over the past few weeks when we have been outside learning, I have stopped instruction and just cued a few minutes of spontaneous tree pose.

Walking the dog down the block? Stroller jogging around the lake? I challenge you to stop and bust out your tree pose. It. Is. Amazing.

While cuing tree pose, I talked about grounding. How trees are rooted to the Earth and how we as humans can find that same grounding. I talked about strength. How trees weather rain, wind and snow and how we weather the physical, mental and emotional seasons of life. I talked about stillness. How trees can stand still in the eye of a storm and how we can find stillness admit chaos. I talked about community. In tree pose- we can hold each other up.

My students were so moved that it organically inspired a mini poetry unit.  During morning meeting throughout the week, we compared our bodies to a tree. I prompted the students with a series of questions and recorded their responses.

How are you like a tree? How is your spine like a trunk? How are your hands like leaves? How are your feet like roots? How are your arms like branches?

 

After our mind was full of comparisons, we embarked on a leaf hunt. Students carefully inspected leaves and finally chose one that they were drawn to.

We returned to the classroom and traced the leaf with pencil. Carefully adding in all of the lines and intricate details…. the bug holes, the lobes, the veins. Then, we traced our hand. Again, carefully adding in the details… the hang nails, scars and veins. Next, we used water color to represent the various hues… crimson, gold, brown, leaves- peach, tan, ebnony skin.

Finally, we put it all together by revisiting our mind maps. Taking in all of these similarities, we wrote poems- “I am like a tree”. This inspired talks of similes (I am like a tree) and metaphors (My feet are roots). Having physically experienced the sensations, the poetic comparisons were not abstract.

We transferred these beautiful poems onto our work of art watercolors to create a masterpiece, worthy a permanent frame.

The students not only experienced the ELA poetry standards, but also practiced holding a challenging balancing posture. More importantly, we created an intentional opportunity to connect with nature and themselves.

Please post a comment describing your experience integrating mindfulness and poetry.

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

14 replies
  1. Annette Warner
    Annette Warner says:

    This is an incredible integrated lesson. I am a School Social Worker in a STEM school and I have wondered how I can integrate my work into the other academic areas and this is a perfect example, thank you!

    Reply
  2. Carli Andersen
    Carli Andersen says:

    I love the connection of the tree pose with nature. I also love how it was connected to the students to help them understand their own balance.

    Reply
  3. Janene Smith
    Janene Smith says:

    What a beautiful lesson! Thank you for sharing it. I especially like the connection of tree pose to an actual tree, and the poetry creations. I may use some of your ideas!

    Reply
  4. Jen Feriancek
    Jen Feriancek says:

    What an amazing lesson! I love that students were able to make a mind-body connection with tree pose and how it makes them feel. I also like that students were encouraged to be aware of each leaf, how each one is different, and they had time to find one that they were drawn to. Lastly, I love that students were encouraged to be mindful as they added the colors and details to the leaf and hand with watercolor. The whole lesson seemed to be a practice in mindful awareness and our connection to nature. Lovely. Thank you for sharing it!

    Reply
  5. Leah Christianson
    Leah Christianson says:

    I love the “strong and calm” like a tree comment. I used that phrase with two students today while we did tree pose to help our bodies get ready to learn.

    Reply
  6. Jenny Regan
    Jenny Regan says:

    I can’t wait to connect the tree pose with then moving on to getting out of their heads and getting them into their sensory body or intelligence body by connecting and centering to the ground and the feel of the earth. Its great for them to feel the pulse of the earth through the trees! You can have them release what is not working for them!

    Reply
  7. Jodi Carter
    Jodi Carter says:

    We took a hike and worked on words for this poem yesterday….an amazingly beautiful fall day on November 4th. Thanks for your template, Stephanie! Love the way students connected with nature!

    Reply

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