Finding your balance for the Mind & Body. If only there was a magic formula, an easy step-by-step or simple exercise to obtain balance, how amazing would that be?
Now realistically, balance is a fine line we all juggle through life. So many of us are constantly trying to find the right work-life balance, the ideal balanced nutrition, the balance between me-time and socialising, the balance in our hormones, our physical balance, the yin & yang and so many more forms of balance.
In Ancient Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang represent the constant state of change or duality in the universe. They represent a whole. It describes how opposite forces are interconnected and mutually dependent in the natural world; and, harmony is only achieved when the two forces combined, are in balance. This dualism shows that nothing is purely good or purely bad. The two opposing qualities complement each other.
“One of the main ideas of Taoism is the belief in balancing forces, or yin and yang. These ideas represent matching pairs, such as light and dark, hot and cold, action and inaction, which work together toward a universal whole.”
This need and desire to find balance is nothing new, however before we dive deeper into this discussion, take the time to identify the area of your life you would like to balance.
In researching this topic, of how to find balance, there are many articles to pick from. “10 simple ways to find balance” or “How to find balance in 7 Easy Steps” or “The Best way to find Balance” are just a few of the extensive articles on the matter. The more I read, the more I realise we are all a work in progress and tips that might work for some people may not be helpful for others. One must search for what works for them and not just give up or settle for someone else's solution.
When it comes to Yoga though, you are lucky because the practice naturally is inclined to bring one's wholeness back into balance. From physical well-being to breathing and mindful practices, you have a variety of opportunities to support your balance in the body & mind. Let's look at a few:
In the asana practice, we have a great variety of balancing postures. The most common are Tree, Warrior 3, Standing Bow, Frozen Cartwheel, Stork, and big toe stretch, however, there are many more and an even greater variety of variations. Ever wonder why we do them? Why do we work on balance so much? I always used to focus on the physical benefits of the yoga asanas however with time I started realising the greater benefits. Practising stillness for the body in balancing postures helps still the mind and a still mind helps bring more balance to one’s daily life.
In yoga, you will often hear an instructor mention your Drishti. The Drishti is known as the focused gaze. It is used as a tool to create deeper concentration during your postures. In different postures, the drishti will be set on different areas i.e. in a downdog the gaze is at the navel and this creates a trickle-down effect on the spine and the balance in the whole body. The Drishti is your focal point, however, metaphorically it can be seen as where your focus in life is. Our drishti is our focal point on where we are going, where we are aiming to go, and the direction we intend to take. So take the time to think of where you are going in life. Set your gaze upon something so you can set an intention and go toward the intention.
They say ‘Where attention goes, energy flows’ and in yoga, it’s very similar to ‘where awareness goes is where prana flows.’ Set the intention with a focused gaze on where you want to go. Eyes wandering creates distractions. Having a focal point helps stay away from distractions and take the awareness inward.
Pranayama, the breath work, is one of the focal points of yoga. Whilst you practise yoga your attention goes to your breath, whether you are inhaling, exhaling or holding it. There are many breathing practices in yoga to support you with balancing your inner state. Breathing techniques are a great practice to balance the energy within the body and consequently balance the mind.
Nadi Shodhana, also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing, is one I like to use because there is a focus on balancing the left and right sides of the body. It is a tridoshic pranayama, meaning that it balances all three doshas- vata, pitta and Kapha. It also purifies and restores balance to both the Pingala and Ida Nadis, the two main subtle energy channels of the body. But it’s getting too technical so let's leave that conversation for another time.
Why do we meditate? Most of us want to achieve greater calmness and awareness when we start to implement meditation in our daily practice. Meditation helps improve focus and concentration, which trickles down into other areas of life. The practice of meditation is when you separate the consciousness of the mind, to find your inner silence and help distance yourself from your thoughts. You see the thought, observe it from the outside. Withdrawing of the senses, known as pratyahara, is the state right before meditation. By removing yourself from the outer world, and turning inwards, you can bring attention to these thoughts and bring them back into a state of balance. Meditation helps improve focus and concentration, which trickles down into other areas of life. One of the many benefits is that mindfulness can bring us back into balance by acting as a bridge between work and life, the outer and inner world. It also deepens compassion and connection, with yourself and others around you.
So these 4 aspects of yoga are a great start to supporting you with finding your balance. I invite you to explore and take one step at a time as you get closer to a more balanced body & mind.
PRACTICE BALANCE FOR BODY & MIND WITH ME