Many years ago when I worked for a mining company in Australia I used to find myself flown from Brisbane to Perth fairly regularly. One one trip, I was exploring the beaches of Freemantle and I came across this yoga studio http://www.fremantleyoga.com
The next day I went along to the 6am class before work and it was taught by a fire cracker of a yoga teacher who must have been in her late 60s or early 70s. She was strict in the way those old school teachers who learnt their trade in india in the 1960s always are but her eyes glittered and I immediately adored her.
Every time I was in Perth, I would drive the hour from the city to that studio for the 6am weekday classes to be taught by her.
Once a week she would always teach a balancing class and it was pretty hardcore – sun sals would break up the different standing balances and then the end of the class would be three balancing inversions. There was no talk of sitting anything out, you just got on with it and she encouraged you when she saw fear holding you back.
At the end of this balancing class one week I told her how much I loved that class and would be mind if I replicated it and taught it to my students in Brisbane. She said ‘teach it around the globe but tell them where you learnt it’ and so this morning I taught that very class to the students at FYS.
The reason she taught that same class once a week every week was because she said we all needed more balance in our lives and by learning to physically balance, we brought a sense of focus into the mind which ultimately brings a sense of balance to our whole being.
She wasn’t wrong.
Stress is the illness of our age and especially here in the west. How often do you ask a friend how they are and they will reply ‘so busy’ (read stressed), how often do you put pressure on yourself to achieve more, work harder, find your purpose….how many people do you know who suffer from anxiety and who worry themselves awake most nights…
Finding balance is a cliche in the yoga world but it’s also one of the most important things we can do for our wellbeing. My idea of balance will be different to yours, it’s important that we don’t preach at one another for living the way we want to live.
For example I like being active and engaged, I enjoy challenges and new projects (this is the pitta in me for my ayurveda loving friends) and I enjoy juggling my balls in the air, it excites me and keeps me focused. So when people kept telling me that breaking my ankle was the universe telling me to slow down it made me want to scream. It wasn’t the universe telling me to slow down, it was a bad jump on a friggin trampoline.
However I know when I overdo it and when the balls become too much and I feel overwhelmed and thats when I have to find my way back to my balance. Yours will look different.
But whatever it does look like, yoga can help.
A balanced yoga practice includes pranayama, meditation, asana (poses) and food for the mind. I hope all the teachers at FYS offer you the things in class and we will all be focusing on it more this month. In doing so we are offering body, mind and spirit a little bit of balance.
Balance poses themselves can teach us to find focus, fall with grace and become physically balanced through strength and flexibility.
And finding time in your week for your regular yoga practice will of course bring about some balance all on its own.
I won’t be teaching in the studio this month as I am having ankle surgery on Monday. So balancing on one leg will be definitely out for me but I will find balance another way, I am about to kick off next week with a 40 day Kundalini (seated!) kriya to keep myself balanced in body and brain while I heal.
I look forward to seeing you all looking and feeling balanced in September