Balancing asanas can bring an amazing sense of freedom, strength and discipline but can be challenging – mostly for the mind. We pick a point to focus on but then the mental commentary starts, and rattles us!
Quite often we hear a lot of utterances of annoyance and frustration around us at this part of the practice too. Digging a bit deeper, this reveals a lot about our mental commentary or sense of ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) toward ourselves, not just in practice, but also in daily life. Practicing Ahimsa is one of the foundations of a well rounded yoga practice, and bringing our awareness to how this can be tested helps us develop not just our practice but also our inner peace and resilience.
The next time you are practicing a balancing pose, notice what you are telling yourself. Is there force and pressure? Berating? Frustration? Is the sentiment positive or negative? Ask yourself, if you were guiding someone else would you use the same commentary? The answer most likely, is no.
In that light, I encourage you to start to internalising the idea that the allowances and kindness we extend to others must also be applied to ourselves. If you find yourself struggling with a balancing asana, try to deconstruct the posture and go back to the basics. First, find the internal point of focus (drishti), close the eyes, slow down the breathing and the thinking. Then open the eyes and pick an external drishti, and transition into the asana, in small steps. For instance, in tree pose try and place the foot on side of the calf first, instead of moving to the thigh. Steady the balance in the mind and body, and then from a solid foundation, move up.
Try and practice this not just with asana but also in your daily life – what are the areas you can apply this to? How can you change the mental commentary? I’d be interested to hear how it works for you and in what areas of life! Write back to me any time you have an ‘aha’ moment - I’d love to hear it!