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Life is the living art of balance. Balance is a beautiful concept, rooted in the exquisite imagery of Yin and Yang. For most of us, the attempt at balance is more like a circus act of hither and thither, with multiple moving parts flying about our worlds in an unpredictable and mysterious way. As we all strive for our perfectly expressed version of “just the right amount,” it’s important to remember a few essential things to the practice of balance.
We are a proud people of the mentality “gotta’ do more, gotta’ be more,” where it’s common practice to boast about the busyness of it all and go, go, go until life is gone, gone, gone. I get tired just thinking of the running around that is inherent to the life culture of the masses. What we forget is that our ability to exert ourselves is proportionate to our ability to rest and rejuvenate. To that end, we must create as much time and space in our daily life to rest and restore. These days, all doctors’ orders should be something in this realm. Here are some ways to encourage restoration in your daily life.
Yoga is such a gift to all those that have the opportunity to be touched by its unique and special gifts. Opportunity here is the keyword, as yoga is truly a privileged experience that isn’t available to all. There are many individuals and communities of people that, for various reasons, won’t ever be exposed to the healing potential of this practice. This past week, when teaching a yoga class to a group of at-risk, sixth-grade students at a low-income elementary school, I realized just how important it was to gift the experience of yoga to these kinds of groups.
The spring equinox ushers in the beginning of spring. Signs of warmer days to come are already lapping at the shores. Tiny blades of green grass and little flowers are showing their curious faces. They are poking up from the once-cold earth that is now warming under the rising heat from longer days beneath the sun. It is the season of blooming and becoming and a time for looking at what is coming forth in you.
Embodiment is, by definition, a tangible or visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling. Disembodiment is to feel the soul, spirit, or purpose exit from the body. As a person, we tend not to excel at embodiment. We tend to be walking around not as full, embodied, whole versions of ourselves but rather as a bunch of disembodied parts. What this looks like is the favoring of one certain aspect of our being that tends to be in the command post for living, all the while leaving the rest of ourselves out of the equation.
As the seasons shift, our bodies cycle through an organic ebb and flow of change that serves to harmonize and create balance within us. These changes are usually influenced by the seasons themselves: hours of daylight, foods that are abundant at particular times of the year, weather patterns and seasonally inspired activities.
Although your body will adjust to these changes naturally, it never hurts to integrate some simple tweaks into your routine to aid in the transition and link yourself more intimately with the season that is upon you.
There is a growing wave of alternative thinking in the world, and most of us are blessed to have a choice between conventional and alternative ways of living. This can include lifestyle choices, food choices, medical decisions, consumerism, spirituality and education, to name a few. What used to be considered radical is now finding its way into the mainstream.
In Boulder, Colo., where I live, there is an abundance of options for natural grocers, alternative health care practitioners and holistic education centers. Even our pets have access to natural foods and medicines. And for a city of only 100,000, there are more than 60 yoga studios in the community. Needless to say, I am at home in this place.
Here, my tendencies toward natural living are fed by the abundant and accessible information about how to integrate even more natural practices into my daily life. For instance, I was thrilled to slowly cut out every toxic product from my routine and replace it with something that wasn’t (in my mind) ruined by processing, chemicals or the like. I felt so proud of myself and my ability to live a sustainable, plant-based, organic existence!
That said, you can only imagine how I must have felt when I was faced with a very unwanted health condition that every doctor — holistic and conventional — seemed unable to diagnose.
Winter is an interesting time for me — well, more specifically, an interesting time for my feet. I love summer because of the ease of slipping my toes into a pair of flip-flops and floppin’ around unencumbered by shoes. In fact, during cold months I wear winter’s flip-flop equivalent, moccasins; a shoe that is as close to a non-shoe as it gets.
In fact, one of the main reasons that I love teaching yoga as a profession is because I get to be barefoot for a living! There is something so freeing when my toes are unbound from the claustrophobic nature of high heels, tennis shoes, boots, mary janes … you name it! When my toes feel the freedom to roam, I find that my spirit has that same permission. The sense of adventure that I feel when I am liberated from the shackles of my shoes is only matched by the abundant bliss that I feel when I am out in nature, spontaneously and effortlessly awakened by the wild untamed natural world.
There is one exception to this no-shoe strategy I tend to live by: my hiking boots. When my feet inhabit these shoes, my sprit soars straight to its inherent wildness. Of course, it isn’t the shoes, per se, that illicit this magnificent response, it is what the shoes represent: trees, trails, birds, bees, sunrises, sunsets, mountains, moose, rivers, rocks … you get the idea. This wildness is as much as state of being as it is a location, in the wild, animate world. When I’m not on my yoga mat, this is certainly where you will find me — winding my way through the wide-open woods.
The season of new beginnings is upon us. With the arrival of spring, we shift from the hibernation of the winter months to an awakening of rebirth. Spring invites us to open back up, delight in warmer days and cultivate a spirit of aliveness.
As sunlight paves longer days, warm, damp spells have the potential to leave congestion and upper respiratory conditions in their wake. Spring is the time for releasing deep-seated emotions of sorrow and sadness. Support your body through this transition with the following recipe for balance as we embrace this upcoming season.