Monday 18th November, 2013

The Tree

My recent trip to watch Emma Howie compete at the 2013 UKBFF ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ bodybuilding competition was a revelation.

I watched many categories of athletes compete and was struck by a similarity in stance between the bodybuilders and us public speakers, a posture that is known in Chinese healing systems as ‘The Tree’.


Stand Powerfully

For some time now I’ve shown my clients how to stand powerfully:

  • feet hip-width apart;
  • legs straight but with knees soft;
  • arms positioned as if holding an imaginary balloon under each arm;
  • shoulders relaxed;
  • hold your head up as if an imaginary string is coming out of the top of your head, drawing you up to the sky.

If you have practised the Chinese system of exercises known as Qi Gong you may be familiar with this position, which in Qi Gong is known as ‘The Tree’.


Why ‘The Tree’?

Trees are strongly rooted to the earth.

From the tips of the roots to the tips of the leaves the tree symbolises power.

Trees can appear serene but they are constantly growing from the inside out, generating energy, providing safety and shelter.

Trees filter toxins from the atmosphere.

Trees will bend a long way before they break.

The more you practise ‘The Tree’, the longer you’ll be able to hold it (I can do it for up to 30 minutes).

Try it for yourself every day, holding the pose a few minutes longer each time. Be aware of how you feel when standing this way.



When practising Qi Gong, we are encouraged to stand just outside the ‘aura’ of our chosen tree (yes, Qi Gong is ideally practised standing near to an actual tree) and to ‘communicate’ with the tree with a smile that radiates out from our heart.

Regardless of whether you care to practise Qi Gong or stand near a tree, there is no denying that this posture promotes a feeling of calm wellbeing and power… which is why I encourage you to use a variation of it on stage as your ‘neutral’ or ‘resting’ stance.

I have a word for the powerful, positive feeling you will experience when practising ‘The Tree’: compassion.

If you struggle with feelings of anxiety or a belief that you don’t deserve to be heard, try ‘The Tree’. By generating feelings of benevolence and compassion towards the audience you may find that you begin to feel calm and powerful and radiate positive energy, just like a tree.


Calm Power

At the bodybuilding competition, I was struck by the ‘resting’ pose adopted by the athletes and how much it reminded me of ‘The Tree’. When not flexing their muscles the bodybuilders assume a physical stance that exudes a calm, controlled power, not nervous, not anxious, not doubting their right to be there.

Give The Tree a try. Let me know what it does for you.



Categories: Attention, Big ideas, Posture

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