Minding the Balance: Working to Find What's Right for You
Balance is yoga; in a yoga practice, we work to balance different aspects of the mind, body, and spirit in detail. A yoga practice works to restore the masculine and feminine, the sun and the moon, the mind and the breath, and much more. Balance allows you to see your Self. That here you begin to learn and gain awareness of how you are.
I believe when you actively work to find the balance from a genuine place you see what you couldn’t find before, maybe even do things, you thought you couldn’t do. On the mat, you work to find the balance between comfort and discomfort (effort and release). “This is where the yoga begins.” Reference to this moment echoes throughout the yoga community, it's repeated because it's true. The moment you find stillness in an asana comes from the balance between comfort and discomfort is where the magic, the yogic science, the yoga takes place; where the entire body is learning, adapting, and becoming stronger. However, before all that happens there is work to be done to create your sense of balance, but if you work at it, then it will come. That is why one practices yoga.
In my opinion, balance doesn’t have to mean an “equal” or “even” distribution. Balance refers to the correct proportions of what you need in and from life to keep you from falling, to keep you secure, stable, and focused. And of course, that is different for everyone.
The dictionary definitions of balance include: “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportion.” Additionally, “keep or put (something in a steady position so that it does not fall."
We don’t realize all the intricacies of what balance truly means for a person or yourself. That in our lives creating and acknowledging the correct proportions of the self, in many situations, seems a lot more complicated than finding balance.
Balance and Misconceptions
One of the biggest misconceptions about yoga is that it is all about flexibility. On numerous occasions, people say, “I want to do yoga, but I’m not flexible,” which is one of the reasons why people practice yoga in the first place --to gain flexibility. Truth is a large aspect of yoga is rooted in experiencing opposing forces like warming and cooling the body, poses and counterposes, inhaling and exhaling. Therefore, especially in the asana (physical) practice of yoga one requires both: flexibility and strength to achieve stability.
I can tell you firsthand that being flexible isn’t always at it seems. As a flexible yogini, I must work extremely hard to engage consistently and activate my muscles—muscles that I don’t even know about, or have become weak due to lack of use. If I come to a class and I’m not mindful of my muscles, I can over-stretch, interfere with proper alignment struggle with stability, and become more prone to injury.
Balance in yoga and in life takes time and effort that requires you to pay attention to yourself more. Not in a selfish or self-indulgent way, but in a way that helps you see yourself and others clearly. As you practice and do this work, acknowledge what you need in-and-out of life to create a deeper relatoinship with yourself and the world around you.
How do you define the correct proportions for yourself, so that you don’t fall?