Being unbalanced can be uncomfortable. But once you are able to start living in the discomfort of imbalance, you can begin to tap into subtle ways to find balance in life. There are plenty of ways to find this sense of balance on the yoga mat—“tricks” to master it in all of the asanas, from Tree pose to Virabhadrasana III to handstand.
While strength and technique have a lot to do with balance, sometimes it’s just a matter of consistent practice and being willing to show up every day despite knowing you may fall. And once you master the "tricks," the challenge then becomes learning how to integrate them into your everyday life.
The prana and the apana. The inhale and the exhale. Too often we forget to take a breath in or exhale. What does it say about us if we walk around all the time grasping for air or forcefully exhaling? It means we are holding on to something that we probably don’t need.
Every nice, steady inhale should equal to a nice, steady exhale. Inhale new breath with new possibilities and exhale stagnant breath with anything we are holding on to and no longer need. Taking time to slow down and focus our breath soothes our nervous system, our physical body, and our minds. If your nervous system is at ease, the balance you seek comes a little easier.
In yoga, gaze in any given asana is often called the drishti. While drishti is mostly often used to refer to a physical gazing point, it is also used to describe our inner gaze. We often find ourselves floating through life unfocused or focused on way too many things. Instead of focusing on a goal or on what is important, we get distracted and pulled in many different directions. We get caught up in what isn’t real and then we lose our drive and begin to lose ourselves.
Sometimes, life feels unbalanced because we are devoting too much energy to things that don’t serve us—things that are not truly real and things that do not support us, our goals, or those around us. So while you need a steady and focused gaze on the mat to maintain balance, the same holds true off the mat. If are able to clear your head enough to focus on what is important and what you are meant to do, then you will able to put your energy in the right places.
Balancing is hard, no matter when and where you try it. And the only way you are going to be able to master it is by trying. How many chances have we passed up because we are afraid of falling down, afraid of what other people may think, or afraid of representing ourselves as anything but perfect?
The people who are willing to put themselves out there and actually try are the same people who eventually find that balance and strength to push themselves further. You are never going to be perfect, so you might as well recognize and accept that fact NOW. We can only progress if we are willing to try and fail. And when you do fall? Do not take it so hard, be willing to laugh about it. Know that whether you nail it or fail it, life moves on.
The last key to finding balance is probably not the first instruction your yoga teacher has given you, but it is a very important ingredient – it is LOVE. Love is a pretty special ingredient because it is the only thing in life that is not balanced by an opposite. Love can grow and grow without being weighed down by an opposing sentiment or practice.
You do NOT need hate to know love. Feeling a lot of love does not mean you are imbalanced—in fact, feeling great love may mean you are getting closer to that sense of balance. Love is the real deal, it is our pure essence, it is what makes us who we are. If something is off-balance, then something in our life is probably lacking in love; meaning, something or someone (including ourselves) perhaps needs more attention and/or compassion.
Any time you are suffering, the quickest way to find a sense of calm is to help someone else, to be compassionate. So just like on our mats, we need to work hard to focus and breathe and set out willing to fail. All of that work will pay off! But at the end of the day, if we do not add love to the mix, then it is all for nothing. When we find love, we find balance.