When you’re seated cross-legged, nestled in a cave-like room out in Igatpuri, India, it’s easy to maintain a sense of balance. Without the distractions of daily life, subways, jobs, egos, small talk, ordering, paying bills, synchronizing schedules, and all that jazz, the peace of mind required for an inward journey is so simple. Just sit, focus, breathe, meditate.
But here in the big bad city . . . (and yes, it’s been a very *naughty* city, the last few weeks. Don’t get me started on evil landlords, cheeky bike thieves and dental dramas!) . . . balance don’t come so easy.
As a counter to the frenetic whirlwind of the city, I serve up a hearty portion of balance postures in yoga classes I’ve been teaching. Utthita Hasta Padangustasana and all its variations, nataraj, virabhadrasana 3 with variations, eka pada utkatasana, finished off with a big juicy starfish to remind ourselves, this isn’t torture, it’s liberation!
Life on the mat, life off the mat
Sometimes, it’s as though the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and the only thing keeping you from tumbling over is this tiny little surface area you’re given to spread out. You feel like you’re extending in every direction, bowing in humility, hovering, waiting, until who-knows-when, centering with every breath, sometimes you get enough hutzpah in you to extend – all of this to backdrop of intense solid focus.
Balance techniques are always valuable, but come in especially handy for the city-dweller. Always the artistic dodger, we have to consciously take time to find stable footing, feeling internal strength in flexibility. Be the bamboo, baby!
I give New Yorkers a lot of credit. To traverse these sun-simmered streets, all grey with old gum droppings – so nasty after the rain – designer footwear buzzing on the surface, busy little bees, zig zagging to find the most efficient of routes – all of us on our way somewhere else – you need to be ultra-aware. Become a dancer on this mad stage. Fine tune the simplest of movements. Winding in and out of crowds, heaving in the mockery of wet August heat.
Until the rain comes. Mmmm, the sweet reprieve of rain. Yeah, better yet, be like water. Flow around the hard times, crap dissipating in your wake.
Balance in the Now
Moving to New York after my studies in India was something akin to being woken from savasana to a radio on full blast – speakers thumping with numbing white noise. White, black, yellow, with spots of attention-seeking neon.
So, urban life. Nice to meet you again. Here are a few ways I’ve been reintegrating, finding a balance between practice and living, love and career, friends and responsibilities. Santosha? Yes. Balanced? Precariously ;o)
Yin to the yang, good with the bad, right brain / left brain, and all those other dichotomies we get to have fun with. Cheers, New York, I hope this proves some semblance of agility when you’re hurling poop at my head. And yes, my beloved yoga crew, I promise we’ll lay off the arduous standing balance sequences next week! 😉