I am interested in a balance on my yoga mat which is more than physical and muscular balance. Yes, it is important for our well-being, our nervous system, and our spine’s health, to balance the left and right sides of our bodies. It is also very important, in order to find physical balance so that we can stand in tree pose, or maybe warrior III, to work on the balance of our mind. What I tend to think about on my yoga mat during my asana practice are other things; things of the past or of the future. Sometimes though, I can get trapped within negative thoughts. And it is with that mindset that I am limiting myself on a physical level. Finding a balance within can bring a more fulfilling practice on my yoga mat. In each pose I often compare myself to how the pose should look, or maybe how I did it last week. I think about pushing myself harder, I breathe deeper, and once in awhile I can feel a sense of bullying from my own voice; telling me to stay in the pose, even though my leg muscles are shaking or I feel out of breath. I am not perfect and I acknowledge when my mind is out of balance.
It is often when I am too focused on self-discipline that I have self-harming or negative thoughts. When I notice this imbalance, I bring to mind the Yamas and Niyamas. Specifically, I bring awareness to Ahimsa and Tapas, and the balance of the two.
Ahimsa= non-harming, non-violence
Tapas= self-disciplines, effort
These two elements directly affect one another, on and off the yoga mat. It is with ahimsa that we can approach our relationship to ourselves, our practice, our bodies and our life. Through ahimsa our physical abilities will blossom and open to a new level of awareness and practice. In each asana you can come to the edge of your physical abilities, knowing you should always back off if you feel pain or lightheadedness, and with positive, self-affirming thoughts you will find yourself in a place that you did not think possible before. Even if it means simply taking one more breath, stretching a little further, or maybe fulfilling the pose to your best potential in the present moment. We can be kind to ourselves, nurturing our yoga practice while surpassing negative mental behaviors which often hold us back from our full potential.
I share with you an hour long hatha yoga class, focusing on this balance of ahimsa and tapas. I hope you can find some peace and clarity as you breathe through your practice, knowing that you are here exactly as you are meant to be. Remembering that is the essential practice of ahimsa toward your Self. And getting on your mat, even just for a few minutes each day, is the best way to develop a strong tapas.
Breathe. Listen. Be You.