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The Great Balancing Act

"So be sure where you step, step with great care and great tact. And remember that life is a great balancing act!" ~ Dr. Seuss

“If we don’t lose our balance every now and again, how will we know when we are actually in balance?”

I asked this while teaching class recently at Sonic Yoga. Although it’s something that I’ve said before, it seemed to resonate more deeply this time.

Perhaps it was because we were working with Half Moon posture (Ardha Chandrasana) and trying to find balance in a fairly precarious stance, that everyone laughed with a sound of great relief in their voices when I said it.

It was as though I had given them permission to fall over. Letting them know that it was not only okay to do so, but also somewhat necessary in the journey toward achieving this and many other postures.

I often see sculptures of balancing stones along the shore when visiting my family & friends in Vancouver Canada. These art pieces of varying sizes peak my curiosity and I find myself doing that head tilt that dogs or cats do as a means of trying to understand what is going on.

Here’s an excerpt from what I read about this fascinating art form:

“Essentially, it involves placing some combination of rock or stone in arrangements which require patience and sensitivity to generate, and which appear to be physically impossible while actually being only highly improbable.”

I wonder how many times these stones fell before balance was achieved. ;)

Physically impossible is what it may have looked like to people as they witnessed Philippe Petit make his famous walk back and forth on a wire between the Twin Trade Towers in 1974. In a wonderful documentary film (Man on Wire), it is revealed that Philippe knew he would make this amazing high wire walk from a very young age. Along the way the apparent physical impossibility of his feat seemed to weigh heavily, but Philippe was only ever focused upon what he envisioned as the high probability of achieving his goal.

This leads me to something else I often say about balance while teaching, “Balance is focus.”

My ballet teacher would tell me that balance is achieved with the eyes. Bringing this concept to the mat, a gazing point or “drishti” in yoga helps us to achieve balance in our physical (asana) practice.

Focusing the eyes can help to block out distractions around us and help us to understand what is happening when we find (as well as when we lose) our balance. Focus supports a deep connection between mind, body, breath and spirit while practicing.

Finding even brief moments of balance is a victory and cause for celebration! The more we find it, the more we want to find it again and again.

In your own journey toward finding balance it may be helpful to begin with an awareness of how and where your focus is placed. While becoming aware of your gazing eyes as well as your mind, body, breath and spirit, ask yourself this…

Am I placing my focus, both external and internal, on the probability of achieving balance?

Just like those balancing stones, achieving balance with your physical body requires “patience and sensitivity”, focus, breath and a sense of humor, because… it’s only yoga!



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