BALANCE. STEADINESS. EQUILIBRIUM.
My yoga teacher kinda blew my mind the other day. This might be a ‘duh’ moment for you, but it was an ‘aha’ moment for me. Handstands have been an up and down thing for me. So I participated in a handstand workshop with a pretty legendary yoga practitioner named Krista Cahill. While I did absorb some fantastic information I will carry forward in my practice, the skies did not part and send down a lightning bolt, thus imparting pertinent information that fixed all of my handstand problems. (That would’ve been pretty awesome, right?) Armed with my new information from the weekend and wishing that it had been a life-transforming event, I went to my sunrise yoga class on Monday feeling like the expectation was that now I’d be doing handstands unassisted. Needless to say I was pretty unimpressive. Figures! I was sore from the 3-hour workshop and had also done several trapeze classes over the weekend as well, plus my hip was bothering me. And then my teacher turns to me after several flaccid attempts and asks – ‘what does balance mean?’ I offer a something feeble. He smiles and says:
‘Balance is constant response to change.’
Ok. Mind. Blown. And furthermore, the more I kept thinking about that, because of course I can’t get it out of my head since yesterday, the more I realized – if you need to respond to change all the time, there’s a skill you need even before responding: listening! EUREKA!
I can talk about changing my wrist positioning to parallel it to the mat, having no ‘bubbles’ in my hands against the floor, proper rotation of my tricep and squeezing my shoulder blades together. But I discovered listening was what was underneath my underlying handstand/balance issue. I was trying to force myself into something rigid, thinking once I get it this way, then it’ll be the secret answer to making my body do what it needs to do. But really? It’s actually that the ‘secret’ answer is CHANGING all the time. And I have to listen in order to know how to respond to everything that’s constantly shifting in my body.
Ask anyone who works with ergonomics for people who sit at offices – they will set you up with a work station that allows you stand and move around. We are not sedentary beings nor meant to stay still. And in order to keep moving in rhythm with our environment, we have to open our hearts, eyes, ears, and all our senses to know what to do next. We can’t squeeze something so tight and make it so stiff and think that is the answer. Instead, as Neale Donald Walsch says, “[t]he trick in life is not to try to avoid change, but to create the change. Then it's the change you choose.”
Writer: Christie Cole, Yogi: JQ Williams, Location: Studio Maesto (Santa Monica)