We use (and hear) the word “balance” almost everywhere - in yoga class (guilty!), at work, and at home. Read our “About” page and you’ll see the word “balance” all over the place! Phases that quickly come to mind include “work-life balance” and “find balance on your mat”. I recently read a book that changed my perspective on the word balance and what it means on and off the mat.
In her book “The A to Z of being a great yoga teacher”, Erin Aquin recalls her mentor describing the difference between balance and another word - HARMONY. She talks about balance essentially equating to nonmovement, whereas harmony represents fluidly moving with the ebbs and flows.
Let’s look at the phrase “work life balance”. If we have balance between work and the rest of our life, that essentially means that we spend equal time between work and the rest of our life? That’s no fun! But what if we have work-life harmony? That better reflects that there will be days where we spend more time working and other days where we spend more time “living”. I could write a whole post on how we shouldn’t look at work and life as two different things, because well, work is part of life! But I’ll save that for another day. Work-life harmony sounds much more appealing.
What about the phrase “find balance on your mat”? The first image that usually comes to mind when people hear that phrase is one of a complicated yoga pose being perfectly held in its fullest expression. But really, the focus in the balancing postures should be finding harmony in your body to bring the small movements of your muscles together into a posture. Whenever I bring students into tree pose (vrksasana), I like to remind them that trees sway in the wind and that its OK if we do too! If you start to lean one way, how do you bring yourself back to center? If you fall, how you get back up? To me, balance-related poses aren’t really about holding a pose in total stillness. Rather, balance poses teach us how to get back up after each fall, how to get out of our heads, and how to bring peace into our bodies and minds even if there is a storm outside.
I invite you to shift your perspective on balance - balance is great, but how can we bring harmony onto our mat and into our lives.
Namaste (in Harmony),