“Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow may come and go like the wind. Happiness comes if you can rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.“ – The Buddha
The balancing postures hold a special place in the system of Hatha Yoga. They work by deliberately reducing the surface area of the body in contact with the floor. In this way they encourage us to strengthen our connection with the earth. An earth that is ever willing and ready to support us in everything we do, if only we know how to relate to it, how to ground into it.
The balances require tremendous focus. Everything unnecessary to achieving the balance is cast aside. In the balance everything becomes very simple; the mind becomes one pointed and quiet, the body alert, responsive and vibrant. So it’s not surprising that it’s often within the concentration of the balancing poses that we discover on a deeper level just how inter-connected that body and mind are. How a ripple in the mind will cause a wobble in the body, how a wobble in the body will cause a ripple in the mind and how a moment of balance, where the body and mind are harmonised (however fleeting) is a moment of confidence, poise, grace and dignity.
When we are balanced there is very little energy going outwards. All unconscious movement is stilled. So the energy normally dissipated through clumsy, un-coordinated, unnecessary and nervous movement is conserved and harnessed. Even our movements themselves begin to have a stillness about them. Balances give us a lightness of step, so that in life we find we leave less of a footprint but more of an impression. Everything we do begins to have more intention and purpose behind it and nothing feels superfluous or meaningless any more as we seek to find the balance in all that we do.
Of course to learn to balance effortlessly requires some initial effort. Patient and persistent practice is necessary. A sense of humour and the willingness to take the inevitable falls with a smile is very helpful. But those who persist find that the efforts and the falls are far outweighed by the benefits of learning to balance.
“A well developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to our steps as we walk the tightrope of life” – Willaim Ward