I’ve been wearing a Lokai bracelet for the last six months. If you’re unfamiliar with this bracelet it’s comprised of beads, all clear with the exception of two: one which is filled with mud from the Dead Sea (the lowest point on Earth), representing life’s low points, and another filled with water from Mount Everest (the highest point on Earth), representing life’s highest moments. This bracelet has served as a great reminder of the importance of balance. But the original great reminder is my yoga practice and why, the more I come to my mat, the more inner balance and peace (and therefore gratitude!) I find.
The hot 26 series (or bikram) that I most often teach works both halves of the body, one side at a time, in a very orderly and deliberate sequence. It is difficult not to notice the pure physical element of balance right away. Also within it, the series has a number of single-legged balancing postures, again bringing hyper-awareness to this central theme. Inversion practice, not emphasized in bikram but certainly present in a handful of poses, has proven anti-depressant/anti-anxiety benefits, bringing mental, as well as physical balance. All students, from newbie to bendy, work hard to achieve balance in asana. Ganga White, in a yoga library fave (recommended by Ann Yocum, Colts Neck Hot Yoga studio owner and wonder woman who trained me), “Yoga Beyond Belief,” quotes this ancient definition of yoga, “Samatvam yoga uchyate, or ‘Yoga is balance’…This insight not only applies to asana practice but to all areas of life.” (p108) But exactly how do we encourage more balance in our lives off the mat?
A saturation of attention on family/children/others can build resentment, while focusing too heavily on oneself can be hurtful to loved ones. Similarly if one has an over-immersion in his or her career, it can be a struggle to manage work/life balance. One of the bigger keys to happiness, contentment, inner peace, is striking a balance in life. White adds, “Harmony…implies attuning, listening within and without, mutual interaction, and working in concert with oneself and others.” (p108) Consistent, dedicated practice, making time for that which is rooted in finding equilibrium between ease and effort, aids in promoting more awareness of this strive to achieve balance off the mat. Even without intense physical asana practice, meditation and pranayama breath work balance the two sides of the brain. I can, and will, devote an entire post to how you can channel breath to achieve balance, but for now, and whenever else I am off the mat and need it, my Lokai reinforces how crucial balance is in our lives.