Balancing poses, for example, are analogous to leading a balanced life, which keeps us from becoming over-worked, stressed out, uninformed, lonely, etc. It also gives us a feeling of fulfillment — physically, mentally and spiritually.
Balancing the body on one foot, the head, or hands, provides an opportunity to become highly aware of the muscle movements that naturally occur in order to remain stable. The muscles constantly adjust to keep the body from falling. Noticing this can create an understanding that a balanced life is not something you achieve and then you’re done. Maintaining a balanced life requires constant adjustments and prioritizing of the things you do, the people you see, and places you go.
Learning this at a deep, physical level can help you understand that adjustments are a normal part of life. It’s OK to change what and how we deal with things that come up. It’s OK to put rest as highest priority when it’s needed. It’s OK to put a friendly phone call at the top of your to do list. It’s OK to work hard.
Sometimes, when working hard in a pose, you fall. Sometimes it’s easy to catch yourself, other times we make a spectacle of ourselves by waving our arms around as we struggle to stay upright, and sometimes there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves, and we fall. Isn’t this something we can all relate to in life?
When someone falls in my class, I praise them. It’s not sarcastic. I truly feel happy for them for working hard, pushing to improve, giving it their all. They’re doing their best, which is wonderful! I know they’ll get up and going again. They always do.
In some yoga poses our bodies feel like we’re twisted like a pretzel. Isn’t it the same with life? Sometimes life puts us into unexpected situations that feel strange, or uncomfortable, as if our lives have somehow become twisted, backward or upside down.
Yoga teaches us to breathe through these challenging times, as it helps us find comfort in the discomfort, and brings us back to homeostasis. We practice breath work on the mat, so that when we’re off the mat, we can more easily remember, and come back to it.
Yoga always ends with a period of rest, called savasana. This brings the balance of relaxation to the work. Even thousands of years ago, when yoga was developed, the yoga masters understood the importance of balance.
We hear so much about cutting-edge science and technology, that learning the lessons of the ancient wise ones is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, to balance out our knowledge. It’s another step toward creating a more balanced life.