It's a HOT and hectic day here in these parts. The kind of day that very often makes your body, mind and spirit feel lethargic and off-balance.
In class, I often talk about how in order to find balance on our yoga mat we need to be aware of body, mind and breath all at once. As humans, this is not something that typically occurs on an intellectual level (like taking inventory). Instead it comes from an energetic experience at our center which organically organizes and creates balance (if given the freedom to do so).
When we first start practicing and exploring asana, we may feel that what we're doing is merely a series of stretching exercises. Nothing may seem to be connected or coordinated. But with time, patience and persistence we will begin to notice something much deeper: the energy that runs through us and all living things.
On the mat, we start by rooting into the moment by using our breath (pranayama practices or breathing techniques) to help us find our physical, emotional and spiritual center. From these roots, we start to pay attention to the body as a whole. What's present in your body in this moment? An itch? An ache? Heat? Coolness? Where are you connected to the earth? What parts are buoyant or heavy? Once we become keenly aware of the whole body, we begin going deeper, moving through the center and tapping into the energy beneath the surface. By using "lines of energy", we set in motion an expanded inner awareness and begin to animate each posture from the inside out. With practice what unfolds is magical! Our physical practice begins to shift and deepen from being exclusively external into a much more fulfilling internal and spiritual experience.
By cultivating such awareness, you will slowly begin to learn that balance is not still. It's dynamic and alive! My hope is that through patience and practice, you will begin to understand clearly that at the center of this energy is a deep stillness that can be accessed while in motion. You can find balance in the midst of activity.
To learn more about "lines of energy", check out my teacher Erich Schiffmann's website for words of wisdom on the subject:
Today's class reading is a poem by an unknown author:
We always talk about stability.
Well, forget stability.
A rock is stable.
Death is stable.
Stability is stagnant.
It is passionate but considerate.
It cares for those people close to it,
generous but not spoiling,
protective but not stifling.
It is humble in its flashes of brilliance
and steadfastly confident in its lapses of reason.
It is a quiet mind in a crowd and
focused determination facing a mountain of work.
It ignores the trivially depressing
and amplifies the sweetest little pleasures.
Where stability is alone, balance is in great company-
many things working together.
It recognizes the unstoppable power of time
and shows prudence in remediation and appreciation
for today’s good things.
It works hard, but plays hard too.
It is continually forgiving, but only in resolution.
It is nearly perfect, but can never be so.
It is the inspiring downpour of rain outside your window.
But, most of all, balance is the respect and love it has for the whole of itself, and no one part.
Until next time y'all!