Balance is not so much a point of absolute stillness as it is a dance, one that requires strength and flexibility in body and mind. On the mat and in the rest of life, balance means moving within your current capabilities and accepting the expansion that comes from there.
Natarajasana, or king dancer pose, is a celebration of this dance. At once a backbend and a balancing pose, natarajasana offers many ways to appreciate the journey of your body and mind. The best starting point for most people is using both hands on a strap with the foot lifted behind and away from the body. When you are comfortable there, you can let go of the strap and move into holding your foot with your hands. Eventually you can do the pose with the strap overhead. After that, you may be able to bring your foot and your hands together overhead. Let all of these progressions be part of the journey. Don’t rush or you’ll miss out on the experience.
Fear can drive your asana practice, or your asana practice can drive fear from your life.
Sometimes people avoid certain poses, ones in which they don’t look their best or are afraid of hurting themselves in. They focus instead on the poses they know well and never look beyond them. But staying within your comfort zone is a sure way to limit progression.
Yoga asana is training for life. Use this time to overcome fear on your mat and it will pay off in the rest of your life. Focus on aligning your breath with your movements and lining up your muscles and bones the way they are naturally designed. Begin with this foundation regularly and a pose that once seemed very difficult will soon be part of your daily practice.
Kapha dosha makes our bodies and minds strong and sturdy. A daily Yoga asana practice builds on kapha’s natural strength and reduces the tendency toward weight gain that can come with excess kapha.
It doesn’t have to take a lot of time -- even 15 minutes in the morning will combat the effects of sedentary living and create enthusiasm for life that will reach far beyond your Yoga mat. Just set your wake up time a bit earlier (start before 6:00 a.m. and you’ll get the bonus of the increased energy that is present in the vata time of morning called brahmamuhurti) and make the commitment to asana as a part of your morning routine.
To balance kapha’s heavy nature, focus on invigorating poses, such as strengthening standing poses and backbends, as we have outlined in the two sequences below. Hold each pose for 10 to 15 breaths if you are feeling sluggish to awaken kapha. If you are feeling fearful, scattered or other signs of vata imbalance, hold each pose for 20 breaths.
The world exists in a balance of the subtle and physical; it’s up to us to notice all parts. It’s easy to be in awe of the powerful energy of the sun, but don’t forget how much the silver glow of the moon can teach you about the softer side of light.
Just like on the outside, it’s easy to focus on the heaviness of your body and forget about the lightness of the energy within it. Ardha chandrasana, or half moon, is a great pose to get in touch with all aspects of being. As you ground into the earth on your standing foot, notice how prana flows into parts of your body you may have been ignoring. If you struggle to extend your leg, notice the way your ujjayi breath makes it effortless. As you hold this pose, you are working with gravity, yet you can enjoy a lightness in your body and the full experience of living.
The practices of Ayurveda and Yoga were given to us to work hand-in-hand. Understanding how the three doshas work in your body will help you tune into the changes that result from changes in diet, how you live and the environment around you. This information is meant to guide you in your practice of Yoga, including asana, so that you can feel your best on and off the mat.
There are times in life when it seems easy to allow your heart to collapse. Perhaps you feel tired, overwhelmed, agitated or out of alignment with Self. But these difficult times are when the heart is meant to shine. Choosing love over fear will always result in the highest good for everyone. This is a lesson that garudasana, or eagle pose, can teach us.
The strength of a tree is easy to see on a windy day. The rushes of wind may rustle the leaves and bend the branches, but the tree remains firmly rooted into the earth.
You can find the same grounding in vrksasana, tree pose, a balancing posture that helps you develop a strong inward focus. Once you cultivate this sense of grounding, you will carry it off the mat into the rest of your life. No matter what winds blow around you, you can remain stable because you have developed deep roots within yourself.