I do yoga to grow in balance– literally and figuratively.

via flickr user TheBoth
via flickr user TheBoth

When I am in standing splits pose, with both hands grabbing the back of my left calf, my right toes stretching toward the sky and the crown of my head reaching toward the sun tattoo on my left foot, I play at my edges. It’s hard enough to balance in standing splits that no energy can be wasted on thinking ahead to what I’ll make for dinner or thinking back to how I should have called a friend the other day. I have to hang out in the present because in the present there is a worthy challenge. The muscles in my legs contract and work while the weight of my head brings length and relaxation to my upper back. This, reversing the posture of loose legs and tense shoulders I wear all day at the computer. I watch the tendons in my left foot waver and make micro adjustments to keep a solid foundation. But I can’t overthink even this. I keep my mind quiet and let my body do the work. Our bodies are stronger than our minds limit them to. Breathe. Every yoga pose is not about the pose but about the breathe that you send through the pose. If you fall, you return to the pose without judgement.

Doing yoga is part of my spiritual practice, and the daily reminder to cultivate balance is a big part of why it works for me. It has also increased my knowledge about other faith practices. Studying other faith practices has always helped me deepen my own faith. Through yoga practice, I learned that within the Vedic tradition, there is a striving to hold duty, economics, pleasure and spirituality in balance. These are considered the four pillars of a fulfilled life. Each deserves attention. I tend to think of balance in terms of balancing mind, body and spirit. Yoga feeds all three. I appreciated meditating on duty, economics, pleasure and spirituality as four possible pillars. I like how the four words bounce around in my head as a corrective to each other: it’s okay to spend time thinking about money as long as it’s in balance with my faith life. It’s good to spend part of the day tending to responsibilities and part of the day tending to fun. It’s better when they are one in the same!

In the new year, what part of your life deserves some attention? In borrowing from the Vedic tradition, how can you work to find balance between duty, economics, pleasure and spirituality? What is your spiritual practice that promotes balance in your life? I’d love to hear from you!

Published by Ellie Roscher

Ellie Roscher is the author of How Coffee Saved My Life, and Other Stories of Stumbling to Grace. She holds a master’s degree in Theology/Urban Ministry from Luther Seminary and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

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