Healing Earth – Health Spot
With Kerry Smith
Coming into Balance
Balance. It’s a modern day mantra and a holy grail of sorts. It is sought in diet, in work, in play, in the mind, in car alignment, in budgets, in washing machines, in waking, in sleeping, in colors, in flavors, in light and shadows, in relationships and in the body. It is the yin and yang of life, and so often it feels impossibly allusive. Physically we are all born with an innate sense of balance. A phenomenal, cascade of physiological calibrations, adjustments, and firings takes place to keep us from the disaster we are on the brink of every time we take a step. We all know balance. We all do balance. It’s what allows everything to work and make sense to us.
In yoga the balance poses demand our full awareness and insist on bringing us into the present moment. As soon as we stray from the now in a balance pose we are in danger of falling. Success in the balances is not a matter of having good balance. We all “have good balance.” To do the balance poses all one really needs is to be present and let everything else fall away. If one does, then the mind can relax, calm itself, focus and voila! Balance takes over, and the body systematically does its thing. With out one having to think about it, the correct muscles fire, the center of gravity is found and one is brought into equilibrium. This happens whether one can bring their foot to the very top of their thigh in tree pose or simply rest their heel on the calf with the toes still on the floor. The more one struggles and insists on forcing balance the less room there is for the pose to happen. The muscles tense, the mind tenses and it becomes difficult and even frustrating. Some days are easier to allow for the flow of balance in yoga poses than others, in the same way that we flow through some days with more poise and balance than other days. Persistent practice and awareness will bring improvement.
One of the beauties of yoga is that one’s balance practice will eventually spill over into one’s daily life. On the physical level when we practice balance poses our bodies strengthen down to the minutest of muscle fibers necessary to keep equilibrium, and that equilibrium is restored and reinforced. The hemispheres of the brain balance, and our focus is streamlined into laser like precision creating an instantaneous state of meditation. The meditative state has been documented as one of the most health enhancing modalities ever. And the beauty of it is, all our experiences with our balance poses, the failed, the wobbly and the victoriously steady will teach us something about ourselves if not consciously then subconsciously, and what we learn will translate into the balances we need to strike in other situations. How do we hold our balance and focus during the daily stressors of life? It is all a magnificent process. So with a relaxed balance practice, one that is not centered on achievement so much as unforced flow, we strengthen our bodies, our brains, and our ability to focus, while simultaneously engaging in meditation, all of which inspire the body’s innate ability to heal, and that is also known as coming into balance.
Article by Kerry Smith