Balance in Many Aspects: Yoga & Balance

When we speak of “balance,” the actual aspects that may be in or out of balance are practically endless:

  1. Left / right
  2. Front / back
  3. Strength / flexibility
  4. Toughening / softening
  5. Expansion / contraction
  6. Fluidity / stillness
  7. Masculine / feminine
  8. Sleeping / waking
  9. Doing / being
  10. Grounding / lightening

As Erich Schiffmann explains, most of us are not balanced and (physically) “This wouldn’t matter much except for the fact that being asymmetrical and unbalanced creates a certain inevitable level of stress and strain throughout your body. Parts of you work overtime, other parts are neglected. This can lead to injury, pain or just plain discomfort.”

And we come to learn that imbalance mentally, emotionally or energetically may parallel physical imbalance, and cause its own forms of pain and discomfort.

Life is Full of Alternating Opposites

Life is full of alternating opposites, such as inhaling and exhaling, sleeping versus waking, and fight or flight versus rest and digest. Each of these dualities demonstrates a dynamic balancing of opposites. Sequencing in yoga can be used to exaggerate a cycle of expansion and contraction. We begin with poses that open the front of the body and close with poses that draw the energy inward. – Ray Long

See also: Sequencing Fundamentals

Left & Right, Front & Back, High & Low

Improved balance refers not only to the heightened physical coordination you will acquire, but to the balance of power between the left and right, front and back, and high and low aspects of your body. Most of us are not balanced and therefore do much of what we do asymmetrically… Working toward a balance within yourself will bring a welcome harmony to the overall feeling-tone of who you are. – Erich Schiffmann

Being & Doing, Masculine & Feminine

Spend some time… reflecting on what needs balance in your life and then implement something to honor your commitment to include more balance in your life. The biggest one in our culture is usually the balance between being and doing, between the masculine and the feminine… Where are you out of balance? Too much Doing? Too much Being? Too much negative Feminine (resentment, inertia, martyrdom, depression) or to much negative Masculine (anxiety, sleeplessness, overwork, aggression, anger, impatience)? Look to nature for healing. Spend some time in nature and receive the healing and the imprint for good balance that nature can provide. – The Power Path

Shiva & Shakti

As the colloquial saying goes, “Without Shakti, Shiva is shava.” Shava (as in Shavasana) means unliving / corpse / dead. Shakti refers to the dynamic force of consciousness that gives form to creative power. Her complement, Shiva, is the name given to the pure, unchanging and unlimited: the inherent formlessness of latent consciousness. Shiva is a blank canvas onto which Shakti projects her palette of color. Only the two combined yield creation. Without Shiva, Shakti is chaotic and aimless. Without Shakti, Shiva has no outlet and remains inertly unexpressed. Shakti (feminine, lunar) represents love, nurturing and creativity whereas Shiva (masculine, solar) represents knowledge, wisdom and clarity. The physical practices of yoga offer an experience of the dance of Shiva and Shakti. You may wish to guide your students to explore the balance of these qualities inside very pose by exploring contrary complements on the mat. – Laura Hand