Some yoga students find balance postures easy. But many, many more find them difficult. And even once we master a particular asana, on some days they may still prove more challenging than others.
I think balance is like this. We can be drifting along, happily centred and relaxed with the way things are in our lives, and then something happens, maybe even something quite small, which rocks us and knocks us off balance. A little irritation, a cross word, an unexpected traffic jam, anything which interrupts the natural flow of our day can throw us off course and make us lose our balance. Imagine that you are walking along a nice, smooth path, which you’ve walked many times before, and then – bam! – you land on the ground. You’d never noticed that patch of uneven ground before.
Maybe we weren’t ‘in the moment’. Perhaps we were concerned with other things than the here and now. Maybe that’s what tripped us up.
We can be ‘tripped up’ in our yoga practice, too. We can think yes, the tree is a cinch, I really get it! And then comes the day when it’s just too much to concentrate, to focus, and it’s not so easy. The tree is wobbly, it’s a real effort. It’s harder to stay grounded through the foot while reaching up with the arms than it should be, than it normally is.
Maybe what we tried to do was to set a moment in stone, instead of noticing the flow of our life. ‘I can do this posture, it’s easy, now I will be able to do it forever’. And then we can’t! Instead of getting irritated with ourselves, and getting even further from our centre, we could remember that everything is changing, and practice acceptance of where we are today, in this moment, in this class, right now. Not last week, certainly not last month or last year. And when we do master that posture again, to try to relax into it, not to grasp after that success, not to cast it in stone, but to live in this moment, the here and now.
Sometimes, we can take our practice away from our normal environment. Practicing in nature, maybe on the grass or on the beach, can add in the challenge of uneven ground. Then we need to step up our mindfulness, and ease up on the need for perfection. We can feel the movement in our body as we try to find equilibrium, without leaning into any wobbles and making them worse. In our lives, when we encounter those irritations that disturb our peace of mind, we can learn to stay in our centre, rather than lean into the wobbles of our mind, and worsen things by our unhelpful reactions. We take the lesson from our yoga on the mat, and use them in our lives when we are off the mat.