Falling and Catching
By YSNY Teachers, July, 2016
We hope your 4th of July weekend was festive, and a break from routine. These moments when we travel, celebrate, and indulge can actually be a key ingredient in a balanced life. But even better than swinging back and forth from extreme health to overindulgence, Shanti teachers aim for overall balance. How? Well, we all do yoga everyday of course. But, additionally…
Joyce Englander Levy has given up sugar, except on Saturdays. She finds that making health and wellness decisions ahead of time is easier than making them in the moment. She frees up mental space by not cluttering her mind with a debate over every desire. Then, when her day off rolls around, the splurge tastes that much sweeter.
Jenny Hudak walks home every night. That hour from the studio to her apartment seems to bring her back to the center. By then her legs are so tired that she can go right to bed… after she watches one Seinfeld rerun!
Lippy says, “Don’t drink too much.” To which Carrie Schneider responded, “Ha ha Ha ha ha! Lip nailed it! Or, as Swami Dayananda said, ‘Never meditate on a barstool.’”
OK, everyone basically agreed with Lippy, but, seriously though, Carrie continued by saying, “When you’re rushing around and you have to leave the house without having practiced, and then, at some point, you get to stand on your head, shoulders, legs, do a few asanas. And then you get to sit with yourself. Oh, how grateful we are for the balance of practice.”
Jamie Lugo finds balance by looking at the “big picture” of her life — as in her life up to this point, not the current state of it. She looks to see what patterns she is repeating, and where she needs to cultivate the opposite in order to bring balance. In order to look at her life honestly, she likes to remove herself from it. Often. She escapes the city as much as possible. “The opposite of concrete and exhaust are trees and fresh air,” she says. She tries to live by sutra 2.33 — cultivating the opposite, not just in negative thoughts, but in all areas where she sees strong patterns.
Tracey Toomey McQuade acknowledges her struggle with balancing being a new mom, working, and finding time for herself. She observes there are times in our lives where we go WAY out of balance. “Maybe that’s the only way we have the joy of finding it again?” she wonders.
Similarly, Keely Garfield doesn’t like to use the word “balance” much because it has become synonymous with the idea or pursuit of perfection — we all know that perfection is unrealistic. In yogic terms, she thinks all “balance” is a negotiation between falling and catching, and requires us to truly attend to what’s going on with us moment to moment — physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Then the trick is to try to make space for whatever we encounter. (This description rallied everyone in agreement!)
Carrie Owerko agrees that balance is a huge topic. She thinks Buckminster Fuller said it best by defining balance as a process. He coined a word, which is a combination of “tension” and “integrity”: “tensegrity.” It’s about islands of compression floating in a balanced sea of tension. There are compressive and opposing forces pulling us this way and that. Our very cells are subjected to the forces of nature (like gravity and love and loss) at every moment. Balance then becomes a dynamic process or adaptive way of being that will be different for each of us, and will take different shapes at different times, due to the unique sea of tensions that our little lives (islands) are floating in, and the various storms that we must weather.
Menna Olvera has committed to a lifestyle that leaves time to walk through a museum, paddleboard, and remember that life can be fun too!
Terri Walker will try to do something creative with her hands, like arranging flowers or mixing essential oils with salts. Both these activities involve texture, scent, color, and the passage of time, so she can ground herself, and be less reactionary. The bonus comes when she can gift her creation to someone. Sometimes she will even give it to herself!
Julie Ross cooks every day for her family during the week, but on the weekends her husband steps up to give her a culinary break. She also mixes her yoga with lights-low, beats-high cardio workouts like spinning and dancing.
One of the ways Gillian Cilibrasi strikes balance is by attending to her immediate world, whether that means giving her baby girl a sincere hug every time she asks for one, or introducing herself to the crossing guard who has been on the block for 22 years. She takes care to find out how her barista or bodega friends and their families are.
Joanna Sesny makes sure to spend time with her closest friends on a weekly basis.
Alexandria Brzenk makes time to connect with nature in some way, and she also carries or wears crystals and stones to hold during meditation.
Hannah Overlock agrees that “balance” is a tricky word, but she will try to maintain a little distance and watch things as they arise, without diving immediately into “This is good,” “This is bad.” Because good/bad, who knows, really? She agrees with Jamie that sutra 2.33 is SUPER important, especially with her scoliosis, because she has to cultivate the opposite of her tendencies to find the center of the pose.
For Christopher Golden, it’s all about friends and bodies of water. When he’s feeling disoriented in any way, a visit with a good friend, and or a trip to the beach, puts his mind in a better place. If he can’t make it to the ocean, a bike ride along the East River does the trick too. Dark chocolate never hurts…
Liz Ilgenfritz agrees with “saying yes to dark chocolate”! However, “no” is an equally important word. Learning when, how, and why to say no is an art form. As much as we want to “do,” we would do ourselves and those effected by us a real service by gauging our limits and not overcommitting.
Like Liz, Maggan Daileader is learning how and when to say no. Her kids recently pointed out that her calendar had no fun activities scheduled. Hence she has added an hour a week of “mom time.” She used to sneak in a half an hour here or there while the kids were in school or asleep, but now she’s consciously scheduling time for herself when everyone is home. This has sent a message that her time is equally as important as their ballet, music, baseball, soccer, chess, golf, play dates, and whatever else fills her family’s weeks.
And last, but not least, Ali Cramer says, “Cut your to-do list in half. If you get to half of that, congratulate yourself PROFUSELY, and have an avocado smoothie.“
To explore more of what it means to live a balanced life, check out our collaboration with Parsley Heath and Hyde Yoga Apparel going on this week. Three entrants can win:
- 1 YSNY 5-Class Package
- 1 Parsley Health Rebuild Protein Shake
- 1 Hyde Organic Cotton Yoga Tank
Contest begins July 5th and ends July 11th.
The Yoga Shanti Teachers & Staff