I love the concept of balance. It is a comforting idea, a feeling of equanimity and peacefulness. If you close your eyes and imagine yourself feeling balanced, do you get the same sense of weightlessness and stillness that I do?
I imagine my life in balance — a perfect system of work, play, love, movement, solitude, family, rest. I imagine a comforting cloud of these bits and pieces of my life floating harmoniously around me.
And then there’s Tree Pose. Or Crow Pose. Or Half-Moon Pose. And a much truer meaning of balance becomes all too clear. Early morning Tree Pose is so wobbly that I can barely keep from falling with both feet still on the ground. Crow Pose — any time — is an awkward struggle to heave my hips into the air and keep my face from smashing into the floor. Balancing in a yoga pose is far less peaceful and beautiful than my mind imagines it to be.
This used to frustrate me to the point of deep, harsh, self-critical anger. Balance is supposed to be easy and fluid, not fidgety and unstable, I thought. That’s how all those pictures look — like the yogis are effortlessly floating. And then I watched, from just a few feet away, my own yoga teacher move into Crow Pose. Her arms, although strong, quivered. Her back shifted and shook, and her legs lifted and leaned and wobbled until they finally, momentarily, settled. All of this movement and struggle brought her into a steady, but very active balance atop her triceps. Of course, a picture does not capture the action. It only captures a glimpse of the result.
I realized that balance in yoga and in life is not static and still, but is the result of so many quivering, pulling, moving, lifting efforts that when synchronized, pull our bodies and our lives into remarkable accomplishments. Work and play must pull equally at the hours of my day; family and solitude create a similar see-saw of attention that brings fullness to my life, despite the effort it requires to give enough to everyone.
We are unbalanced, not because we are working hard, but because we ignore one end of the see-saw and it smacks us in the head at some point. Hard effort, focused effort, is essential to build balance. If we are new to it, or if we are distracted, that effort may be greater, but so long as the effort remains, the balance can be sustained. And the more often we practice Tree pose or Family time or Unplugged time, the easier it will become to find that balance — and to feel the calm within the effort, within the action.
Are you ready to bring balance into your life?