Finding Balance

June 14, 2011 § 4 Comments

In the past few weeks I’ve been reminded by Ms A and the Cyber Shala about the importance of finding balance in the practice. More specifically, in walking the fine line between effort and laziness at every practice.

I’m a firm believer in balance, and in the underrated value of moderation. Eat, drink, laugh, cry, love, jump, indulge, work, practice yoga…all essential elements of a truly healthy life but each fully capable of tipping us over the edge if we’re not mindful of our engagement with it. I don’t believe in diets or bootcamp as a sustainable way to live, and definitely think that trying to ‘stay positive’ all the time does more harm than good.

I know all this theoretically – I’m very good at theory – but it is so damn hard to apply the principles of balance, especially in my yoga practice. Yesterday’s practice for instance, was one where stopping at Navasana would have been a wise choice, but no, I went and plundered ahead to Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana, fading into a sweaty Savasana heap by the end of it. The practice drained an already tired me, leading me to choose to skip a practice today to recover my energy. This is what ‘balance’ currently looks like as it relates to yoga in my life – practice practice practice, and then, skip a day or two when I’m exhausted. For a practice that’s supposed to be done everyday, this is not ideal, and I need to make it alot more sustainable if I want to continue with this whole yoga thing for the rest of my life. I feel like I’m missing something here about the practice, and I think it’s in working with it so that it complements and doesn’t erode my life (paraphrasing Peter Sanson as reported in Mel’s post). See, yet another idea that I understand and am in total agreement with, but remain absolutely clueless about execution…

Part of the problem too, is probably my ‘good student’ ego who wants to be the one that gets everything ‘right’, score full marks on attendance, effort and attitude and make it look effortless. This is probably a throwback from my days in school where I was hardly the model student even though I desperately wanted to be, and so I now try to compensate for that in any classroom setting I find myself in. I tend to view any abbreviation of the practice as ‘laziness’ on my end (again, a label I’ve come to internalize) which makes it hard to really listen to what my body is saying and to work with my energy instead of depleting it.

For those of you with a daily practice, how do you sustain it (apart from sleeping early)? Did you go through a phase where you had to ‘scale’ your practice from a few times a week to a daily one?

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§ 4 Responses to Finding Balance

  • ivana says:

    i only started with ashtanga recently and at first i did only a few days a week which made my practice nor here – nor there and also messed up with my body in terms of getting my muscles used to regular excersize. also, i found it hard to discipline myself and was talked into (by my bad self) skipping it easily.
    then a couple of months ago i decided to do it 6-day-a-week and i have to say that has helped me stick with it much easier than dipping in and out of it. my body also is prepared for the work ahead. i used to cheat with vinyasas in order to save energy but since starting mysore class and being pushed there to do them diligently, i have to say i have now taken the same attitude at home. it works πŸ˜‰

    • D says:

      Hi Ivana, thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree that getting in the groove of a 6-day momentum does help keep one going. I managed have a 6-day week phase for a while last summer, but an auto accident and other life changes happened which threw things off I think. I am slowly working my way back to 6 days (4 days now)…we shall see πŸ™‚

  • Liz W says:

    I have a daily practice consisting of pranayama, asana and meditation, but it’s Sivananda rather than Ashtanga. The main thing I had to do to make it sustainable was to accept that I can’t normally do the full 90-minute sequence plus 30 mins of meditation morning and evening if I want to both (a) get enough sleep and (b) get to work on time. Instead, I do a shorter 30-minute sequence in the morning (though still “official”, from one of the Sivananda books) plus 20 mins of meditation morning and evening. The shorter sequence basically omits two of the asanas and all of the warm-up apart from the suryas, and you spend only six breaths in each of the remaining asanas, which for Sivananda is quite a short time. It still gives me most of the benefits of the full sequence, though, and certainly more than missing a day. I try to do the full sequence occasionally, usually at weekends. And if I’m really in a hurry in the mornings – e.g. if I have a doctor’s appointment before work or something like that – then I just do two rounds of sun salutations, which according to my teachers is the minimum you can do and still count it as a practice. It’s far from ideal, but it does at least wake me up a bit, and it keeps me in the habit of getting on the mat every day.

    • D says:

      Thanks for sharing Liz! Yes, it’s all about habit isn’t it? What I love about your story is that you do what you can, not what you’re ‘supposed’ to do – an important lesson I have yet to learn.

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