Effort and Ease By Suzy Aragon Photos by Jill Jones
Balance: the thing we all want but struggle to create in our crazy, busy lives. For me, on the best of days it feels nearly impossible. As a new business owner, mother, partner, dedicated yogi, and practicing nurse, lack of balance seems to be a common theme. When we are out of balance, we tend to feel scattered, anxious, and an overwhelming sense of disease. Conversely, when we are balanced we feel connected, powerful, confident, capable, and fully able to take on the many challenges and joys life brings. If yoga practice is a reflection of our lives, then when we are out of balance in our lives we will be out of balance on our mat. This means that striving for balance in our day to day lives may look like getting a good solid eight hours of sleep, drinking enough water, eating a well balanced diet, and engaging in healthy relationships that foster love, connection and joy. It means resting when we need to and honoring our bodies always. Creating balance can also mean challenging ourselves in ways that may be scary and stepping out of our comfort zones to experience new things in order to continue to grow and learn.
To begin kneel down onto your mat and bring your big toes together and knees wide apart resting on your shins. From here reach your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the ground. Sink your hips down and back over your heels and take a couple cleansing breaths in through the nose and out the mouth. Here is an opportunity to set a personal intention for your practice. An intention is an anchor, a short phrase or word, to focus on while you practice.
When we practice the physical postures of yoga we want to create balanced action in our bodies. This means that we’re not over contracting our muscles, especially the ones not needed in any given pose. This shows up as rigidity in the body and is more of the earth element and is fixed and solid. But, this also means not under-engaging our muscles, which shows up as floppy limbs and heavy, uncontrolled movements. As we move into and out of postures we want to create a perfect pairing of these two elements.
The following series of postures are designed to create balanced action throughout the body. No matter where you are in life and in the ebb and flow of creating balance, this practice will ground you and reconnect you to your center. First we start with warming poses to get the body moving and the blood pumping, followed by some floor postures that are intended to relax and restore the body preparing you for deep rest or shavasana.
From child’s pose, come onto your hands and knees, tuck your toes and press your hips up and back into downward facing dog. Seperate your feet hip width apart and hands shoulder width apart. Spread all five fingers and press your palms into your mat. Straighten and engage your arms and keep a slight bend at the back of your knees. Engage your belly by drawing your navel in towards your spine and pull it up toward your heart. Notice here where you might be over efforting and trying too hard.
406 Woman Vol. 12 No. 5 Lifestyle