The yoga class I attended yesterday included a number of balances, from simple tree pose to a "floating" ardha chandrasana. I am not certain why, but I was struggling to find a steady balance on one side. I had arrived feeling flustered because the camp bus was late, and I walked into class after it had already begun. So, my mind was spinning and worrying as we worked our way into the flow. I had to struggle to make my gaze steady, and I was starting to beat myself up in my head for the wobbling on my left leg. Then I had a realization: This is really the whole point of balancing poses, if not yoga itself! The point is simply to be with yourself, no matter where you are at that moment. Later, I thought a lot about balance, and how we try to find it in our lives. So, my little list of 5 Ways to Find Your Balance certainly applies to asana, but I see this as a metaphor for the bigger picture, too.
1. Take a Risk. Balancing requires a leap of faith. We must trust in our one leg to steady us, as the other takes flight. We test our limits so we know what we are capable of achieving.
2. Find Your Focus. We keep our eyes on a steady object. This allows concentration of the mind, and minimizes distractions that would throw us off our goal.
3. Loosen Up. Balancing on one leg requires strength, but we also need to relax. If every muscle is clenched, we're actually more likely to fall over. The micromovements and tiny adjustments are part of the pose, and we can't flow with the breeze unless we let go of a little bit of control.
4. Embrace the Falling. Give yourself a break! Balancing is hard, and we will fall. A lot. Some days, it seems impossible to find the stillness. Instead of the inner name-calling, try laughing and recognizing that the effort is as important as the result.
5. If You Fall, Get Back Up Again! This one is the most important. Persevere. Don't call it a failed attempt and give up, when the next try may lead to success. Or maybe it won't, but if not today, maybe next week.
Balancing poses require extra effort. But when everything comes together, these poses steady our minds and help us attune to our intentions. Balancing on the mat can help us focus our commitments off the mat, which, I've heard said, is where the real yoga is practiced!