At times, events in our life seem to overlap in ways that seem more than just happenstance. One day you might find yourself in a discussion about someone or something, only to have a few days go by before that someone or something is brought into your life in a different way. The irony of those situations always leaves us wondering, was our awareness of that person or thing what brought them into our lives, or was the reason we became aware of it in the first place an indication of what was to come...
This month, the focus at the studio has been on finding balance and creating vision. Although I hadn’t planned for it to be, and quite ironically, it has been a huge focus area for me as well.
As I have been navigating the journey towards finding balance and vision, I have been reminded of all the different ways in which these two concepts weave in and out of both our practice on our mat, and in our daily life. So instead of offering a “lesson to be learned,” I would like to simply share a few different ways to look at balance and vision in the hopes that you too might find utility for them.
At some point or another we have all been asked; how is your balance? On our mat we practice postures such as tree, dancer, and extended hand-to-foot pose, which offer excellent ways to develop and maintain “good balance”. In our lives, good balance is important for to being able to go, do, and explore, no matter our age. While straight forward and simple, making the effort to establish and maintain good balance can have a profound affect on our quality of life.
We can also explore our physical balance in a little different way; how IN balance is your body? Perhaps you sit or stand all day, carry kids around on your hip, repeatedly swing a golf club, or move things only with your right arm. Repetitive movements can and will result in noticeable differences of our left/right or top/bottom in terms of muscular strength and flexibility. Take a quick look at your routines: What ways do you move about, and are your habits contributing to how well-balanced you feel? By simply bringing awareness to our habits, we can gain a good deal of insight as to why we feel the way we do. Which is one of the reasons why a yoga practice is so beneficial. Each time we come to our mat, we have the opportunity to explore our range of motion, and become aware of how “in-balance” we feel on a given day.
Finally, there is one more way that I would like to explore balance; are you balancing effort and ease? Whether we are practicing yoga, trying to eat a well-balanced diet, or creating a relationship with that special someone, when we force things they never work out well. On our mat, this shows up when we work to find our “edge” in a posture. The term “edge,” in yoga, means the sweet spot where there is a bit of discomfort because you are putting forth a decent amount of effort, but you can breathe freely and are able to sustain the posture for an extended period of time. I have found that more often than not we try and force ourselves into places we just aren’t able to go, both on and off the mat. If we forget to balance all of our striving to “go and do,” with the ease of simply being, there really is no “balance” whatsoever. However, there is no doubt that this can be one of the most elusive aspects of balance.
Lets begin exploring vision as one of our 5 senses. Having the ability to see is obviously important! During practice we use our vision to help us understand where we are supposed to move our bodies, and it also helps us see how we can or cannot move our bodies. Additionally, we can use it to help us find our balance. If you have the tendency to look around during practice, or if you are “looking for a place to look,” try finding one point to gaze at softy. This is the yogic practice of drishti, or focused gaze, and while it begins with finding a fixed place to look, it can bring layers upon layers of focus to a practice.
Most of us have also explored vision as creating a visualization. We can imagine ourselves doing something and “going through the motions.” During a practice you can explore this several different ways. One example is to move into tree pose while lying on the ground to get a feel for the posture before you attempt it while standing on one leg. What ever way you bring about visualization, the most important piece to understand is that you are beginning to internalize it. You are taking it from the physical world and bringing it into the mental realm. Which is a really neat aspect of the mind-body connection. The more you practice visualizations the more effective they become, both for a yoga practice and in life.
Lastly, let’s consider the idea of creating a vision! I actually prefer to think about a vision as a priority because more than anything, it need to be specific. When we have a precise enough vision, its like using a laser, instead of a flashlight, to cut through steel. We become so much more effective at what we are trying to achieve. In a yoga practice, our vision is most often talked about as our intention. It is the one thing above all else that is going to dictate our choices and movements throughout a practice. Where we visually look can help us balance on one foot, and likewise, our vision can help us stay in-balance throughout a practice and our daily endeavors.
SO, WHAT NEXT?
No matter how you look at it, maintaining your balance and creating a clear vision is a never ending process. Its certainly something that surfaces time and time again in my life, as I'm sure it does for you. So please know, if you ever have any questions or if you would like share your thoughts on balance or vision with us, we are available to chat, and welcome the discussion. The next time you are at the studio, catch on of us before or after class, or feel free to send us email anytime.