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Want Balance? Fix Your “Drishti” Gaze on a Hermit Crab

Yoga | Yoga for Beginners

The true test of your balance is actually the hermit crabs of Costa Rica. Yup, you read that right. Most yoga practitioners learn quickly that attaching your focus on a moving object in Dancer Pose is not really that great of an idea unless falling on your face is your goal—in which case, go for it!

The same can be said for life’s challenges. If your focus keeps being moved closer or further away, then you are more likely to grow frustrated and quit that path. Practicing these crazy balancing postures enables you to practice concentration more vividly in yoga and in life.

What does a crab have to do with yoga?

Great question. I am an outdoor yogi and spend a lot of my time balancing precariously on the beach before or after teaching Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga.

During my teacher training in Costa Rica, we were lucky enough to do a lot of beach yoga—white sandy beach, lapping ocean, you in Tree Pose gazing out over a palm tree riddled sunset—don’t get jealous, you will be there someday too!

Now, some of you may be aware that the beaches in Costa Rica are smothered in cute little hermit crabs of all sizes, battling for the pieces of sea life that wash up as their supper. These knobby creatures take up in shells, carved out rocks, and even (quite sadly) pieces of trash.

It is infinitely difficult to know what is a hermit crab and what is a stationary piece of the terrain.

Once the hermit crabs have found their home, they become cunning. They lie in wait for unsuspecting yogis to use them as a drishti (visual focal point) while practicing ridiculously tricky balancing postures like Bound Half Moon or Bird of Paradise.

When you, my dear beach dwelling yogi, are at the height of the posture with your arms tied in knots, standing on one foot upside down and inside out, and your gaze has settled intently out in front of you on a beautiful small rock…

THAT is undoubtedly when the sturdy rock you chose for your drishti will stand up on its little hermit crab claws and begin toddling off.

What, now!?

Well, you will undoubtedly chuckle in surprise recalling this article. You will take it in your stride the first few milliseconds, but quite quickly, that hermit crab has met up with ten others, and now they are all jumbled up and you have no idea which is your focal point or whether to look left, right, up, or down.

Panic sets in. You either wobble down to a less than smooth summation of your pose, with legs and arms splayed in all directions (kind of like you did in my previous article, “Ah Crap, Eagle Pose Again”).

Or, you collect yourself and refocus, your intent on another place, becoming malleable in your practice. ~Amber Scriven

You hold strong on your path and in your posture. In yoga, this can be somewhat of a game, a test of balance and concentration and, yes, you absolutely can take that lesson and apply it to life off the mat—in fact do that!

Good focus lets you keep cool under the hot sun.

If your life’s focal point becomes an ever moving distraction, you will probably end up in a tangled muck on the floor, so practice changing your focal point now and then while balancing in your yoga classes. See if you can maintain concentration and balance whilst allowing your focus to change.

It is hard to maintain balance when the object of your focus keeps moving randomly like a hermit crab on a beach, while you hold all of life’s weights precariously on your shoulders, fingertips, and head. Try it so you have practiced for when life throws you a curve ball—or a hermit crab.

Allow the world to change around you, but keep your focus on what you want to achieve within that changing world.

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