This morning I rose pre-dawn to rumbling thunder and bright lightning. Stormy downpours soon yielded to an orange-grey sunrise. As I stepped out for my habitual dawn stroll, the smell of rich, wet earth halted me. I inhaled deeply and realized – almost as if by surprise – it’s Spring! My heart swelled and tears rolled. I felt excited for this change of seasons, this change of pace, this change of mind. I took my walk with a chorus of awakening birds, under dripping trees and bursting blooms.
A hopeful anticipation settled into my soul.
Today is Spring Equinox. Well, the actual Equinox occurred earlier at 12:10am, to be exact. This is the date when night and day are the same length, a supposed time of equilibrium and balance.
Hilariously, my Asana practice this morning was the wobbliest ever! I laughed at myself as I swayed all over the place while processing toward Dancer Pose. I drew upon all of my resources for balancing postures: rooting down through my hip and foot; engaging the buoyancy in my pelvis and abdomen; rising up from my heart to the peak of my fingers; breathing long and deep; and especially, fixing my focus on a Drishti – a single raised bump in the texture of a woven blanket on the couch in front of me.
But nothing worked. I surrendered to wiggling and giggling my way out of Dancer and back to Mountain Pose. And in that simple stance, I felt as balanced as ever.
I guess it’s going to be a Two-Feet-On-The-Ground kind of Spring!
Hah! The sun just broke through the clouds as I typed that phrase. No kidding! A bright and enlightened moment: two feet on the ground this Spring. That is fine with me.
Spring’s energy is very pushy. The intense shift from restful hibernation to forcive sprouting can trigger aggravation, annoyance and impatience. What tools and resources can I take off my mat and into daily life to address the feeling of being pushed over by Spring’s abrupt changes?
Thankfully, everything from my Hatha Yoga practice can cultivate this balance. First and foremost – traditional yogic three-part breathing. Long exhales followed by deep inhales reinforce that there is plenty of space and time between Point A and Point B. When change surprises me, I can pause to breathe, consider what’s next, then take step-by-step action. And during flow sequences, reaching a pose at the very end of each slow exhale and energetic inhale – and focusing on the process vs. the pose itself – reminds me that there is always a process from event to event, from intention to goal, from here to there.
Specific practices in balancing poses can also cultivate balance during times of transition. The most obvious is finding my roots. In Asana, I connect downward through whatever body part is touching the mat. (I might be balancing on feet, hands, arms, head, buttocks or belly.) During unexpected change, I can physically root down for stability. I can bring attention to my seat or feet, or kneel and touch the earth. But what if I need more momentum for a situation? In poses, I cultivate buoyancy by liberating the center of the pose (for example, resting downward from the “sit bones” and/or shoulder blades while lifting through the pubic bone, abdomen and/or heart). In life, I might ask what frees me to float through changing times. On the mat, I can focus on the peak of my pose – a feeling of rising through the highest point in the body. Off the mat, I can consider – what in life lifts me out of a myopic view to a broadened vision and perspective?
Above all, I find that the most supportive practice in balancing poses is using a Drishti – staring at a fixed point. Gazing at a consistent, dependable, unmoving source of support can take me from shaky and distracted to still and focused. Just like in life. There are people, practices and resources that – without fail – restore my balance. Teachers, healers, friends…meditation, chanting, breathing, praying…reading inspirational writing, walking in nature…beauty, joy, gratitude.
Although sometimes I must be reminded to depend on these powerful stabilizers, once I set my sights there, I feel unshakeable support.
However! As this morning’s Asana practice proved, sometimes not one tool in the Hatha Yoga kit will work! And so I fall back on Pratipaksha Bhavana – the mindful replacement of negatives with positives. Instead of judging or criticizing my wobbly reality, I laugh! I place two feet on the ground! I use the precept of Samtosha – contentment – by accepting that I feel off-balance. Then I take positive action to address (rather than “fix”) it.
What tools for transition and balance will you take off your mat and into your world this Spring?
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Peace, Peace, Peace.