I’ll admit that my immediate reaction to seeing the word “balancing” in the description of today’s practice was “oh, crap”. I may have mentioned on a couple of occasions that my physical balance isn’t the best (hell, my mental balance might not be the best either), so balancing poses are always a bit of a challenge. However this being yoga, and particularly YWA, of course, a balancing practice is not just about knocking out a sequence of balancing poses. It’s as much (if not more, perhaps) about creating internal balance.
There were balancing poses, of course. I’m actually finding these trickier since I started using my new, thicker yoga mat (which I adore, by the way). Whenever I’m on only one foot, that foot doesn’t seem to want or be able to remain steady on the super-spongy mat. I don’t know if this is something that will improve as I do, or if I’ll just have to line two mats up side by side, a thin one for balancing poses and a thicker one for everything else! Anyway, there were inevitably some wobbles, but I tried to stay calm and to bring the stillness from yesterday’s practice. My breathing in these poses is really starting to improve (I began yoga as a classic “breath holder” – the minute something got even a bit tricky, it would feel like I just stopped breathing) and that helps massively with maintaining a grounded strength in the pose.
Adriene made an interesting point both in the accompanying email and during the practice itself about coming into the role of the observer. I’ve just started re-reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”, one of the focuses of which is that who we are is separate from our mind, i.e. the thinking, chattering part of us that maintains a running commentary on life supplemented with fears and anxieties about the past and future. He talks about being an observer of our thoughts. It seems to me that this is another potential point of connect between life on and off the mat. I’m trying to cultivate that “observing” approach off the mat, so it will be interesting to explore how that can be used on the mat. What do we observe? Our thoughts during the practice? How the body feels in any given pose? I guess it’s a case of first seeing what there is to observe, then working out how that observation can best work for me.
Back to the physical nuts and bolts of today’s practice, I love that it finished off with head-to-knee pose, plus an added juicy side stretch. This is one of my absolute favourite poses, as it seems to hit all the tight spots in my back and sides. It’s also one of the poses in which I can see the most obvious improvement in my flexibility, as my nose inches closer to my knee. Well, it’s probably moving in millimetres rather than inches, but it is getting there.
Finally, I wrote yesterday about the killer headaches I’d been having, which I thought might be due to cutting down the amount of sugar in my diet. Well, today the headache was significantly less noticeable, and towards the end of the day started verging on non-existent. This is excellent news, as I really hate headaches, and have a tendency to just lob as many painkillers at them as I possibly can, which can’t be good for me. Having just got over that stage, I expect the cravings will kick in soon, but they haven’t as yet, so for now I’ll enjoy the calm before the storm!