Doing Yoga Brings Balance to Your Life On and Off Your Mat
Yoga Is All About…
If you read a lot about yoga, as we do, you may have noticed the prevalence of phrases like ‘yoga is all about awareness, yoga is all about letting go, yoga is all about listening to your body’. Whatever the subject matter, you can be sure that yoga is all about it. Yes, we’ve even done it ourselves. Though the language is a bit hyperbolic, we stand by the sentiment. Yoga can be all about all these things and more because yoga isn’t just one thing. It’s a constantly evolving, shifting, personal, adaptable, flowing, multipurpose practice.
We can all agree that yoga is about flexibility. It’s also about strength. It’s about the interplay between them, which is particular to each person and changes all the time. It’s about knowing when to try something difficult and when to back off. It’s about movement but it’s also about stillness. It’s about cultivating our inner voice while simultaneously figuring out how to function in society.
Put these things together and you’ll see that what yoga is really, really all about is balance. It’s finding a path to walk between extremes. The need for balance is just as strong in our everyday existences as it is in yoga. And, if you think a lot about yoga, as we do, then you already know that the issues we tackle on our mats pay their dividends throughout the rest of our lives as well.
Balance within a yoga practice takes a lot of different forms, but many of them circle around the negotiation between steadiness and ease, also known as sthira and sukha. When you’re literally standing on one leg or on your hands, these may be the last things on your mind, but you’re actually making use of both. Your pose requires a solid foundation, but if you get too rigid you’ll fall over. Stability must be countered with buoyancy. Get the mix right and your temporary triumph over gravity gives rise to joy.
Balance is also needed between active and more passive types of practice. It feels good to stimulate your endorphins with vigorous, flowing, athletic practice. Slow, static, quiet asana or meditation complements all that yang energy with a dose of yin. If you are more inclined to be high energy, constantly in motion, you may gravitate toward fast-paced asana but could actually do with a touch of stillness. If you tend to be more laid back, Vinyasa may give you the little kick you need.
Ease in the mind is also an essential component of asana practice. In daily life, we’re encouraged to strive, achieve, and vanquish our rivals. We get all kinds of aggressive, competitive energy from the world around us. To balance things out, leave this mentality outside the yoga room with your shoes. Instead of trying to win by beating someone else, test your own edges, open yourself to all experiences, pleasant or not, and abide with difficult sensations.
Strike a Pose
Don’t strike a pose, strike a balance. A perfect pose is not what we’re after. Asana is always a work in progress, not a finished product. Instead of allowing a goal-oriented approach to dominate your yoga, let the process-oriented path travel off your mat. Life is full of push-pull relationships: work and family, independence and compromise, aspiration and contentment. Yoga is all about bringing the complicated opposing parts of being human into better balance.
Featured Yogi @mr.liam_amo