yoga + balance
Some say that balance is the fountain of youth. They’re speaking of the physical sense of balance. And, I agree, but (of course there’s a but) I think it’s not just the physical sense of balance that keeps you young, but also the ability to balance your mind, your spirit, your life.
In May, we explored balance on the mat and off. In my own effort to have a better work/life balance, this post is coming late. But, better late than never! :)
I made the switch to full time teaching about 9 months ago and though it has done absolute wonders for my stress and happiness levels – stress DOWN happiness UP – it has been difficult to balance my work with my life. When your life’s passion merges with the way you make a living, the lines blur and it becomes imperative to stay balanced. So, last month was a personal journey for me to find, and keep, my balance and I was blessed to share this journey with students on the mat. Here’s what I learned:
- In order to find balance, I have to let go of the things that no longer serve me. By letting go of the junk, I can create space for the good stuff. Sri T Krishnamacharya is credited with saying: “Yoga is the process of replacing old patterns with new and more appropriate patterns.” Such wise words that are so applicable on the path to a balanced practice and a balanced life. After clearing space for more valuable patterns/behaviors/things to take root, we feel a little lighter, a little more capable of balancing.
- I can’t feel balanced if I don’t know how to focus. Eating dinner, checking emails, watching Vampire Diaries (yes, yogis can still love Vampires) and thinking about next week’s class plan all at the same time does not leave me accomplished, but rather, flustered and anxious. This habit of multitasking is touted as a great skill, but is it really? I find that when I multitask either consciously, by doing two tasks at once, or unconsciously, by doing one task while unintentionally thinking about something else (likely the next item on the to-do list) I don’t complete tasks nearly as well as I could have and my workload seems insurmountable. When I focus on one task at a time, it all seems doable. By prioritizing tasks, I can accomplish more and balance my life better.
- I am not alone. Four simple words, so easy to forget sometimes. When my world feels like it’s spinning out of control – and it does from time to time despite my best efforts – I have my unbelievably supportive parents, boyfriend, family, friends, teachers/guides/mentors and yoga community to help me feel grounded and, yes, balanced.
- Balance is not achieved by standing still. It is achieved through persistence. When you topple out of Vrksasana (tree pose) you don’t just stand there, you get back into it. And then, you still don’t just stand there, you persist by gripping with your feet – toes spread wide, a little rock to the inner foot balanced by a rock to the outer foot, a little forward, a little back. You persist. The same is true off the mat. When the world gets crazy and life knocks you down, you take a moment to let go of the things that don’t serve you, find focus and remind yourself you’re not alone. And, then you persist until you find a healthy balance.
Balance is not easy on the mat or off. Hand balances, inversions and one legged balancing poses are challenging for a reason. Life is challenging for a reason. We learn from the trials in our lives. Like my Dad recently told me: “It is through trials of life that our character is made stronger. If you want to find peace in your struggles just take a moment and pray.”
A balanced life is a life well lived – where people matter most, experiences trump material things and where we are able to distinguish between when it is time to work and when it is time to play.
May you all find balance and stay balanced this summer.