Today, in yoga, I was next to a woman who made it very clear that she was not good at the balancing poses. Perhaps because of this, the teacher threw in a tree pose, but made it a partner pose, and I was paired up with the “unbalanced” woman. We were to stand arm in arm and do opposite leg tree poses. I happen to be very good at balance poses (most of the time) and was able to hang on despite a little wobbliness on her part. By the second side she was considerably more confident and there was much less wobbling.
During Savasana (a pose where you lie on your back at the end of the practice and try not to think…love the position, can’t not think to save my life) I started wondering how I would teach someone to be physically balanced. I started coming up with questions to ask like “Do you have any chronic injuries or pain that limit your ability to stand on one leg?”, “Are you on any medication that makes you off-balance?” and “Do you want to always be worried about falling or would you like to know that you can always stand on one leg?”. I would then watch and see what their body was doing when they stood on one leg and take it from there.
Then I started thinking about balance in general. We hear the word a lot these days, especially when it comes to diet. A balanced diet is urged by all the people “in the know” (and exactly WHO is that?). Someone’s life might hang in the balance. A balanced life-style is coveted by everyone I know. If you surprise someone you catch them off balance. A $0 at the bottom of the spread sheet means that that the account has been balanced. The term checks and balances gets thrown about in Washington a lot, especially these days when Obama is trying to talk Congress into allowing action against Syria. At this point one can figure out where the balance of power rests.
Do you remember being on the see saw when you were little (or maybe just yesterday) and the kid on the other end was, um, a little heavy? Or perhaps they were a little smaller than you. If you were little like me, you spent a lot of time up in the air and not very gracefully coming back down to the ground. But when you were pretty evenly matched with the person on the other end, man, that fulcrum thing worked really well and you could have loads of fun going up and down.
We crave that feeling, being in control of our balance, our ups and downs. But so much gets in the way, not the least of which is gravity. Forces beyond our control are fighting to knock us off balance and we must find ways to keep on point, to not fall down in a little heap. Balance can be sooooo fleeting, a moment where everything lines up and the least amount of effort is taken to stay vertical. Balance is about ease not dis-ease. Balance is about putting everything in it’s place and finding something to put on the other side that will counter-balance. Balance is about letting go of control and finding out that we can still stand on one foot after all.
Balance is a beautiful thing.