The other morning in a yoga class I had an epiphany. It was one of those magical moments when the thought came through in a serene, simple and solid fashion. Right there on my mat in the quiet meditative time at the end of class, I realized that in my life and in my yoga practice I am striving for the same three things–balance, strength and flexibility. I know. It seems rather simplistic, but there it was for me to ponder—-the practice of yoga requires balance, strength and flexibility, as does a harmonious and healthy life.
The balance poses in yoga are often very elusive, some days more than others. While I might be stable and steady on Monday in tree pose, come Thursday perhaps life has thrown that polished poise off. My steadiness may have been compromised by events that I did not anticipate, that I find difficult to integrate. So, I call on my breath and rein in my scattered thoughts to focus on just that simple act of balance.
Balance and that same steadiness in my life is just as vital to me. Finding the right mix of quiet time and social time. Attempting the appropriate blend of physical stillness and movement. Combining the finest freshest organic foods in my diet, while allowing for that occasional divine decadent dessert. Searching for times of calm to balance the often over-stimulation this wired world offers. Knowing when to speak and when to be silent. These times all call for balance. I attempt to respond.
Being strong in yoga comes with time and practice. Many times on the mat I call on my strength to achieve or maintain a pose. My physical strength, yes, but also the strength of spirit. So, too at times in my life I have had to reach deep to call upon that inner strength to meet situations that have required all I could give and then some. My mother used to say that God never would give me something I could not handle. True so far. But, that inner strength has taken me years to cultivate and be capable of consistently drawing upon. It is often the intangible in my life that supports my strength. The love of my family and friends. The time I take in nature. It is also the habits I nurture in my life that foster that potency. The rhythm of my daily habits–sleeping well, eating well, exercising. All so needed to foster that strength when it must be mustered.
And who has not noticed that being flexible in body and mind is an attribute worth cultivating? In the thirty-plus years of my treasured yoga practice, I have found my body gradually more flexible, markedly so when I commit to a regular schedule of classes. And that flexibility is a boost to my comfort in sustained poses.
So, too, my life is enhanced by a flexible attitude. The desire to control is part of my psyche. I came to realize, once I had children, that attempts to control them were futile. So, I cultivated a path of choosing to have some influence on them instead and relinquished my desire for control. Being adaptable when situations evolve in a direction not originally planned makes me less prone to angst. A supple body and spirit make my aging process more graceful and the days more enjoyable.
I cherish my yoga practice, as much for what it creates in my life as for what it brings to my overall health. This realization just confirmed that once again.