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Coming Into Balance

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I arrived home from the Toronto Yoga Conference yesterday minus one important thing: my voice! Fortunately it didn’t happen until the very last minute of my last class. The students had to do the OM on their own, leading to a rousing rainbow of notes, but they got all the information I needed to offer.

The key for next time I accept a conference position, is not to talk less. I’m a very verbal instructor, and what I hear from my inner teacher, I translate in its entirety for my students. The solution is to do slightly fewer classes.

This is hard for me to admit. I’m the type of person who will stagger into my house carrying eight grocery bags to avoid two trips. I would rather power through my day than take a nap, and I’m more likely to give a massage than to get one. Whether I’m doing a six-hour Core Strength immersion or a one-hour private, I tend to give everything I have to help steer people toward their Source. Sometimes, in my quest to open them to center, I neglect to hold my own.

No matter who you are, there is a particular shiny object in your life that tends, like a bluebird decorating her nest and seeing only the glint of silver on the ground–but not the wolf waiting in the bushes–to draw one’s attention away from the predatory dangers of misalignment, depletion, and suffering. For me, the shine, my utter passion, is helping others to remember themselves, to contain their prana, and then send it out into the world in ways that reflects their deepest truth. To do this, I share my personal path: the realizations, actions, and type of yoga practice that helped me to empower, self-nourish, and stop a vicious cycle of chronic fatigue and dysfunctional relationships that were causing me a world of hurt.

I know that this important message is a positive way to use my energy. However, even a positive can become a negative if it begins to drain the offerer in favor of the offering. In yoga circles, we refer to this process of striking personal balance as the daily see-saw between sukha and dukha. The words translate to mean “good space” and “bad space.” We can also interpret them to mean ease and suffering.

In fact, we tend to invite experiences into our lives that appear as repetitive drama cycles, like getting into the same struggle in your romantic relationships over and over (‘Haven’t I dated you before?”), or running into the same problems with different business partners. These seemingly external experiences don’t have to be seen as random. They can be our teachers, illuminating the lessons of how not to take the road of craving and instant gratification, but rather to make the more intense, rewarding choices that help us come back into our natural state of equilibrium, self-respect, and peace.

Today, as I rest, cuddle with the cats, and let my voice return, I’m aware of my own responsibility to myself and my students not to be a hypocrite–I have to both talk the talk and walk the walk. Now that I’ve received my teaching, I will use it to tip my balance back in favor of giving in enough, rather than giving out too much. From here on, I’ll set better boundaries and let workshop organizers know what I can offer (12 hours or so should be win-win for us both), and make sure that I don’t let my zest for teaching override my personal nourishment. After all, if I’m to lead by example, then what better way to do it than by sharing my own learning curve?

And, even for teachers, it’s sometimes steep.

Core Question: What’s your biggest energy drain or repeating drama, and how can you come back into balance around it?

Core Pose: Anahata Twist
Your mid-back is the first place twists can freely occur, so sometimes we get stuck in our more hyper-mobile spots. This pose will bring your twist higher–into the upper spine, shoulders, and neck in a variation designed to nourish the area around the heart and throat.

Lie on your side in a fetal position, place both hands on the mat, and spin just your heart to the floor–legs stay like they were. Place your arms on the floor, elbows bent, forearms, and palms down in a cactus shape.

Turn your head away from the direction your knees are pointing for the most spinal rotation, or to the same side for less.

Breathe into the back of your heart and higher for one minute or more, then repeat on the other side.