Life is all about balance, isn’t it?
I believe that everything we practise on the yoga mat transfers to the way we live our life. We don’t need to make it happen, it just happens. It is a natural extension of our practice. Here are a few thoughts about balancing postures in yoga and how they affect our life.
To start, have you ever noticed how much balance is going on as you practise physical yoga? It seems that all the postures have an element of balance in them! There are standing balancing postures such as Balancing Warrior or the Shakti Dance sequence I teach when balance is needed even though we keep both feet on the mat. There are postures everyone would agree is all about balance such as tree pose where only one foot is touching the mat. And there are postures with one foot and one hand touching the mat such as side plank, where you also need to keep your balance to avoid falling over to one side. Not to mention crow pose or handstand with no feet on the mat at all…
The balance between stability and ease always keeps me curious. Stepping on to the mat to do my daily practice I never know how my body will feel and how much stability will be needed to allow for ease in the postures and movement. As best I can I enter the “balance zone” and always enjoy finding the balance that is right for me on that given day to keep both stability and ease going as I am moving.
By continuously noticing how the body feels in the various yoga postures you increase your awareness. So when there is discomfort you will know if it is due to misalignment in the body or simply muscles engaging more than you are used to. Discomfort due to muscle engagement is fine and represents a great opportunity to find the balance between effort and ease that is right for you in that moment. As a result you learn something new and grow in our yoga (and life-) practice.
When giving instructions while teaching a balancing posture – and other postures – I often suggest you go to your breathing for support. The more you practise this the more the breath will naturally come to you for support whenever it feels that life is sending you off balance. How lucky it is that everything is connected!
To conclude, I believe the physical balance we learn through yoga postures leads us to living more balanced lives. Over time the balance we practise on the mat becomes innate. It becomes part of who we are and how we make choices in our daily life. Turns out physical yoga postures are not just physical yoga postures but so much more: A great teaching in living a balanced life.
Thank you to Wimbledon-based photographer Laura Pink (firstname.lastname@example.org) who took the above picture which inspired me to write about balance.