Balance is a very popular word. Balance has become the modern mantra for artists, bankers, bartenders and everyone in between. We all seem to be trying to balance something, whether it be our work life and family life, our diet, or our finances.
The Balancing Process
Balance is not a static state, not something that you work hard to achieve and then once you’ve found it you have it for life. Balance is more like a very slow pendulum, slowly rocking from one extreme to the other, finding the center point for a moment, before falling out again.
You might recognize this in your yoga practice. Have you ever noticed when you hold tree pose, for example, and are trying to stay balanced, you can do it — but then once you are steady, and stop trying, you fall out? This is because balance is only achieved through the constant effort and striving for balance.
A Lifelong Commitment
Just when you feel confident in tree pose or in your balanced diet, you usually release a bit of effort, and eventually, lose your steadiness. This is why balance is not a static state but rather a lifelong process. It is something you strive for on and off your yoga mat.
It all begins with a commitment to self-observation. We have to want to change, want to do to work to steady ourselves, to explore the challenges of struggle, and trust the outcomes.
The best part about striving for balance is that it gives you the chance to see where you are out of balance. This can be hard, because we may love our misalignments. Perhaps it’s about only wanting to do slow and relaxing yoga, or being purposely misaligned in a pose as we strain to achieve an advanced expression that is beyond our current limits.
Vary Your Practice
To be a balanced yogi can mean that you not only are great at tree pose or standing splits, but also that your asana practice has a good level of variety, that you are seeking to find a calm center point emotionally, and that you are practicing other types of yoga outside of your Hatha yoga asana practice. Now and again, explore the practices of Karma or Bhakti yoga and notice how the pendulum swings.
Your Center Point
The next time you are working on a standing balance pose or full inversion, like forearm balances, headstand or handstand, try this technique to find your center line. Imagine a line, perhaps a metal cable pulled taught between your big toes, your navel and your nose.
Balancing in yoga poses always brings up anger and frustration. It’s natural to want to perfect something while avoiding the feeling of failure when you fall out of a pose. Remember, if you are not falling (on or off your yoga mat), you are not trying.
Avoid reacting to losing balance with anger or frustration. When you do this, you make it harder to regain your balance, because you have started a little war with the pose and with yourself through this subtle aggression.