10 Things I’ve learned about Balance on my mat
You’ve been focused on your health and fitness for a while. Your dedication has payed off and you’re starting to see results. Then *Crash*boom*Bang*Tiny whistle *Explosion* something happens. Insert your fave (the holidays, a vacation, you get hurt, you got sick, your period) then your behavior spirals back to those old sneaky habits and your left two weeks later trying to get “back on track”.
Hey guys? What if there is no track? Let’s stop with the language of “I’ve been good this week and bad last week.” Let’s stop making our health an all or nothing kind of thing, and start to aim for a more practical approach.
We’re all striving for it. Sometimes we do find that Sattvic, harmonious rhythm and we feel really great, everything flows. That’s always a nice place to be, but hey, it’s not always reality. It’s guaranteed that in life change will occur, things may become turbulent, something will interrupt your harmonious flow. See, I think we approach balance to passively. We think it’s the norm and everything else is a problem. I’d love for us to start to reframe the way we approach a balanced life by actively starting to observe what it takes to stay balanced. The best place I could think of to uncover these secrets was on my yoga mat. so here we go. The top 10 things I learned about balance on my mat.
#1 You are not how good or bad your posture is at any given moment:
Some days your balance is spot on, somedays, not so much. The problem is that many of us attach emotion and self judgment to the outcome of a single posture. I’m holding handstand, therefore I’m awesome. I’m dependent on a block in half moon pose, the girl in front of me is not, she’s better, I suck. I used to be able to do crow, but I gained five ponds, I’m so mad at myself. You know your story… I’m great, too old, too out of shape, not flexible enough, too uncoordinated. Perhaps all of these on any given day.
Now it’s easier to see on your mat, but you are not your choices. Just how in life when something goes out of whack or even when things are going really really well, they are just circumstances happening to you, they don’t define you. When you have a meltdown, break your diet, stop meditating for a week or even when you’re perceived thriving, like with a promotion at work or high from a new relationship, these things are not you. You’re not different, no better, or worse, not good, not bad. You just are. I believe when we can recognize this in our everyday life we are suddenly free and can create a more sustainable balance in the everyday.
#2 To stay balance you must be aware moment to moment…
As you hold your tree pose, yes you are focusing on your breath, but you also must stay present to what is going on in the body. constantly be scanning from your feet to the crown of your head and making subtle adjustments accordingly. The minute your mind drifts and you loose concentration is when you start to wobble.
#3 An unshakeable foundation
Being able to balance comes from first setting up your foundation properly, especially in a tricky arm balance such as Parsva Bakasana (side crow) If your hand position is too narrow or too wide you set yourself up for injury or failure.
To me your foundation in a balanced life is your value system. The Why. Why do you do the things you do? What makes life worth living each and every day. Who do you choose to be in this world? Get to know this part of yourself and the more consistently that harmonious balance will show up.
#4 Your breath is always there.
No matter if you’re fully expressed dancing with life and vertical in your handstand, or your teetering side to side trying to find your balance in standing split, your breath is always there to come back to. Connecting with this energetic flow of prana is the first step in finding balance as it is your constant. No matter your circumstance, you will always have your breath.
#5 What worked yesterday may or may not work today.
You really do wake up in a new body everyday. Cells in most of your organs are fully replaced in a matter of days.. One day you may find a key to balancing, the next day you may find it just doesn’t work as well as you thought.
Just like your body is ever changing, repairing and rejuvenating itself Life is always in a constant state of change, even if it’s subtle. We like to live in the comfortable past, using our memories as current truths. We need to remind ourselves what worked for us 20 minutes ago, yesterday, 2 years ago may not serve usin this moment. To look at the present as our only truth is a guaranteed way to keep yourself in a beautiful rhythmic flow of life.
#6 Sometimes it is necessary to crash and burn
When you were first learning to balance on your feet as a baby or on your hands as a yogi, you know there is no avoiding the ol’ crash and burn scenario. It’s part of the learning curve. You have to hit your edge to know your limits and you have to test your limits to grow. Sometimes this turns into a beautiful boundless expression, sometimes it turns into a ball of human on the floor.
Point being, you wont always be perfect. Sometimes you will totally hit a wall, miss a step, crash and burn. The key is to not judge yourself when you do so. Hold no guilt, anger, or shame towards yourself just get up brush yourself off and recommit to the swinging scales of balance.
#7 You can’t stay in one posture forever to create a flow.
To create a vinyasa flow you must keep moving through postures synched with the breath. Sometimes you will stay in an asana for a few breaths and you feel so magnificent, radiant and content. Fortunately or (un) the world must go round and the class must go on. You learn to embody embrace and love those moments of brilliance but you must also be ready to move on. Move away from that place of radiance and learn to be content in all things, even as the ball of human on the floor.
#8 Allow for assistance along the way.
We weren’t born knowing how to walk on our hands, twist and balance in binds. We go to well trained teachers and use props to help us along the way.
You were also never trained in this thing called life. If you find that there is something that is a constant source of imbalance or a disturbance to creating balance in your life, fear not to seek outside help from a book, teacher, coach or group.
#9 Dristi can change/help everything.
Drishti is referring to your eyes focal point. Keeping a soft gaze on a non-moving object and then taking the focus internally to the minds eye helps you find balance.
I’m going to say the same is true off the mat. Having an unwavering focus is important in keeping yourself even. If you’re all over the place chances are your life and the situations you find yourself in are the same. Taking it one step further, your perspective is another thing you may want to shift until you find one that makes you see things with rose colored glittery glasses on. Shifting your perspective to one of love and gratitude (even for the crash and burn) keeps you in a positive place and helps you to feel that peace that balance brings.
#10Embody it NOW!
Harmonious balance is nice, but it’s not the guarantee and it certainly isn’t lasting. Be happy, grateful and at peace right NOW! Those glimpses of perfect balance are great ways for us to feel what it’s like when we’re in a nice flow with life. Now try to embody those feelings all of the time. Even at your most turbulent, angry, rocky state, breath and come back to that place of peace. Yes, there’s a little fake it till you make it attitude there, but it works. The sooner you shift your inner self to a place of peace, the quickly the outward behavior will follow.
I hope you’ve found this useful and will continue to approach your balance practice with gusto.
I would love to hear what you think. Leave any questions or comments in the space below.