It is no surprise that yoga is seen as an effective way to reduce stress and cultivate emotional stability. Balancing poses in particular—from Vrkasana to Natarajasana—have the potential to teach us invaluable lessons about balancing our emotions and our lives.
Beyond the physical benefits, yoga can play a significant part in developing our emotional and mental well-being. This guide explores the psychosomatic principles of balancing, and offers insight and methods for leveraging balanced poses for a breakthrough in consciousness.
Traditional Perspectives on Balancing
As practitioners, we are often taught to make peace with the concept of balance, but what does it truly mean? In fact, the concept is ancient, and its roots reach far back into the history of yoga.
In pranayama, for instance, the word ‘samana’ is often used to refer to a neutral state, or equilibrium, between the two polarities of the body’s subtle energy channels (the ida and pingala). This same sort of internal equilibrium is also the guiding principle of hatha yoga.
At the most basic level, balancing is the process of finding a center point in both the physical and emotional body, while integrating strength and suppleness, and taking into account our current capacity and threshold.
There is no set definition of ‘balance’; everyone’s version is unique and personal.
Reframing Our Everyday Emotions
It’s no coincidence that balancing poses, such as Vrkasana (Tree Pose) and Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose), are included in most basic yoga sequences. Aside from their obvious practical applications, these postures can help us to re-frame our everyday emotions in the context of balance and equilibrium.
Through dedicating time to exploring and mastering these poses, we are given an opportunity to practice being patient and non-judgemental with ourselves, and even benefit from feelings of forgiveness, optimism and joy.
Patience & Non-Judgement
Patience and non-judgement are two of the most important skills that we can develop in life, and both play an essential part in finding and maintaining balance. Interestingly, they are also two of the most challenging.
Media, culture and even our own experiences may have taught us to form preconceived ideas and expectations of ourselves—especially when it comes to how quickly we should move, progress and ‘achieve’ in our yoga practice.
By practicing balancing poses, we learn to take our time—remembering that it often takes weeks and months to gain even a basic proficiency. We learn to accept ourselves as we are, no matter how woozy or disorganized our postures may appear in comparison to another (or even our own) approach.
We learn to enjoy the journey itself, rather than striving for some sort of abstract ‘goal’.
Non-Attachment & Forgiveness
In the same way that balancing poses teach us patience and non-judgement, they can be applied as a lesson in non-attachment and as a method for practicing forgiveness.
As we let go of preconceived expectations, we observe and accept the fact that life is constantly changing, that nothing stays the same. We understand that, no matter how balanced and centered we may become in one pose, it doesn’t guarantee that we will ever achieve the same feeling in any other pose.
Hence, when we falter or lose our balance—in our yoga practice or in life—we are able to respond with greater clarity and understanding.
Letting Go & Finding Joy
As we let go of all expectations, we gain insight into the present moment. The balance we seek reveals itself, as we become ever more aware, both mentally and physically. We become adept at trusting the process, and in doing so, we allow ourselves to feel joy.
We learn to see that ‘balance’, in yoga and in life, lies in the perfect balance of strength and flexibility, presence and detachment, composure and surrender; and by cultivating each of these individual components of balance, we can realign ourselves with each moment and create true and lasting harmony.
Through this newfound sense of balance, we find a deeper sense of purpose in life, and a greater sense of joy, connection and compassion.
By paying attention to the practice of balancing in our yoga practice, we can leverage it in our everyday lives to reach a healthier mental and emotional state. As we learn to cultivate patience and understanding with our self and other, we access an innate sense of balance. Through this attainment of balance, we are able to unlock a greater level of joy, connection and compassion in our lives.