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The Balancing Act

Don't capsize into the Fall season!

Is summer break really over? School’s in session again! Ack! So much to do. 

Listen to Heraclitus

Have you ever noticed that you can do something in one place, but when you change locations it changes your abilities? Why is that? Heraclitus claimed you never step in the same river twice - you've changed since your last crossing. So has the river, the air, the surrounding trees. 

One of my fabulous and brutally honest girlfriends keeps encouraging me to teach yoga on Stand-up Paddles, or SUPs. It seems like a perfect marriage of two of my favorite things: yoga and the water. I’m always trying to talk people into joining me in a workshop or on a body of water.

So, a handful of us went SUPing in Annapolis over the weekend. A member of our posse suggested that while we on our boards to try balancing on one foot. Big surprise - it wasn’t easy!

"There’s gotta be a way," I told myself. "I’ve been practicing balancing poses for years! What’s the difference between yoga in my kitchen and yoga on a SUP? It’s a little more wobbly on a SUP, but not impossible."

The only difference – you guessed it – was my breathing. Why? Because it brings me into this moment. Not that one. This one. 

Calm Down and Breathe

In my  I shared what it’s like to attempt to stand on one leg. On a SUP, however, I felt back there in my first yoga class - falling before I’d even tried to balance. So, I centered myself, remembered my inward gaze, focused my eyes on the tip of the board and breathed. Before long I was in a tree pose... Kinda. For a few seconds. Sweet.

We found a quiet spot away from the wakes and I remembered my favorite balancing pose - a  After all, it's really easy.

Here’s why headstand is easier than tree pose: the surface area in tree pose is tiny. Two little size 8 feet. In headstand, I’ve got tons of surface space. I also have a lower sense of gravity. All I had to do was breathe.

Done. I was up in no time. 

Minding the Matter 

There aren’t too many things that lay a better foundation for being in the moment than balancing poses. When I tried to balance on one foot on the SUP, there’s no way I could manage unless I was in the moment. I wasn’t thinking about school. I wasn’t thinking about writing this article. I quickly discovered I couldn’t even think like I was doing tree pose on land! And then remembered that headstand was easier. And why.

Isn’t it funny how our minds will tell us that something is physically more difficult when all the physical facts insist on the contrary? Mind over matter can work against us, too. If we let it. If we don’t, the possibilities are pretty cool. Just pay attention to them.

Glenn Chickering September 08, 2011 at 12:07 PM
Great article! Its amazing how such an easy thing can be difficult to do if you don't regularly practice. Breath indeed!

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