It seems that the conversation about balance is everywhere: work-life balance, balance in our relationships, health and even diet. But what does balance mean? How will we know when we find it?
A quick check in the online dictionary reveals that balance is:
- An even distribution of weight enabling someone to remain upright and steady
- A situation in which the different elements are of equal or in the correct proportions
In life, we tend to put more value onto the second definition, and that may explain why balance is so evasive. How do we know what the correct proportions are? Even when we discover the magic recipe for the moment, everything in our lives changes. Only a moment later, we may find that what used to work before is working no longer, and we need to start looking for the perfect formula again.
What if, instead, we focus on the first definition? What if balance is what enables us to remain upright and steady in every situation?
Balance in yoga
The elements of balance in yoga (or in any physical activity) are strength, alignment and focus. Even the seemingly simple poses, like the tree pose, require that you switch on your core, find the right alignment and choose a still focal point (drishti) to keep your gaze on.
All these elements will improve with practice. If your core is week or if you’re struggling with your alignment, you can modify your poses to an easier version. Even then, focus remains an important part of the practice. It’s easy to know when thoughts and distractions come into your mind, because your body will inevitably become unsteady. You can come back to your balance quickly by letting your thoughts go and returning to your drishti.
Notice that being balanced doesn’t mean being absolutely still. You will always feel gentle movement, and to stay in the pose, you must choose to realign, re-centre and re-focus moment by moment. Your ability to balance also varies from practice to practice. On some days, you’ll feel stable as a rock, and at other times, you will wobble in and out of the pose repeatedly.
Balance in life
Balance in life has the same ingredients as balance on the mat. Core strength is about staying true to who you are at your core. The less you have to pretend, compromise on your values and modify the expression of your personality to fit into a group or a situation, the more energy remains for what’s truly important.
Alignment requires that you don’t lose sight of the big picture. Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? Are your thoughts and actions aligned with your big vision or are you keeping yourself busy just to get through the day?
Like in yoga, even if your core strength and alignment in life are difficult to find right now, they will grow with practice. Focus, on the other hand, is something you can commit to straight away. In every moment, you can choose to focus on being right here and now, and that will help you feel more calm and balanced immediately.
Tatiana is a freelance writer and a mum of three living in Sydney. After a 10-years’ break, she has just returned to full-time work. She is still finding time for yoga, meditation and mindfulness, which is making a huge difference to her sanity and her enjoyment of life.