When I was asked to write this piece for our theme of Balance, Focus, and the Breath this month, I chuckled to myself because I have quite an interesting relationship with balance. I’ve lived with chronic vertigo for nearly 20 years and as a professional yoga teacher, this has some very obvious and inherent disadvantages.
At first, when dizzy spells would hit (some lasting a few days!!) I would find myself angry and frustrated. The question of, “how am I supposed to do what I need to do when my world is always spinning?” would constantly reverberate in my mind. I have had days of long pity parties and days of lying in bed not being able to move for fear of setting off another dizzy spell.
Over time, my yoga practice has helped me shift my relationship with vertigo. At some point, I began to surrender and accept this diagnosis. Instead of resisting I began to ask, “what might happen if I soften into this, perhaps even accept this new spinning reality?”
And what I’ve learned is that it all really boils down to these three words: balance, focus and breathing. These have been daily explorations for me on my healing journey. Balance and focus help in strengthening my body and mind. Breathwork softens my edges and brings everything together.
Our eyes, inner ears, and feet play vital roles in our ability to balance. At times, especially during a bout of vertigo, it felt like the cords that connect all these aspects were frayed. My feet couldn’t depend on my eyes and my eyes couldn’t depend on my inner ears. Warrior III has been a most beautiful support in my practice of healing my relationship to balance. It’s a very challenging balance posture, one that demands all aspects of your body (including those three vital balancers) to work together with such focused intelligence and strength, yet you must remain soft enough to breathe slowly and deeply.
The lesson in the posture is learning like a warrior does: when is the time to engage, and when is the time to soften. Where might you need to find and develop more strength and stability in your life? And where or when can you begin the practice of softening and allowing? There are so many ways to allow your yoga practice to take shape off the mat. I’d love to hear what your relationship is to being strong yet soft so drop me a line if you’d like to share!