What Yoga Taught Me about a Balanced Life

What Yoga Taught Me about a Balanced Life


I’d been seeking ways to be able to embrace what they call “The Power of Now,” and suddenly, I was no longer sure.

I started embracing “the balanced life” back in the later 1980’s after I read the bestseller by Robert Fulghum called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” In his book, he encouraged that you “live a balanced life” by learning some, thinking some, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, playing and working everyday some.

I was 30-something and I loved that for years.

A decade later, I discovered what was basically an identical message claiming that living life in balance is both very rewarding and easy because serenity, joy and happiness become the basis of your life. As I reflected on my early-stage of skepticism in my midlife, I wasn’t really sure how simple or easy it truly was.

Recently, my turnabout had seemed complete, while I was in yoga class, staring at this green block with the imprint: “Life. Balance. Growth,” I felt like it that was bull.

After my yoga class, I spoke with my instructor, Amy, about the disenchantment I had with the whole “balance” incantation. Surprisingly, she confessed her thoughts that balance was a fallacy. She felt that society presented it as something achievable, but realistically, it is not a goal that is achievable.

Really? This made me realize I had to take my concern to a higher authority, a teacher of Buddhism named Susan Piver. She was also an author and a long-time life guide for me; her most recent work is entitled “The Wisdom of a Broken Heart.”

Rhetorically, she asked me if it’s ever possible that life can be balanced. She said she didn’t think it was because then we’d have to be frozen in that same position.

John Kricher, a noted biologist told us that balance does not exist in nature and that it’s a paradigm not based on data, but on belief, and does not hold any scientific merit. I felt confounded by my mentors.

Regardless of my confusion, I continued practicing my yoga, planned vacations, and ate my balanced diet. I also signed myself up for digital detox.” They promised me that disconnecting would cause me to reconnect. But balance still remained unobtainable as a state, and I felt it to be illusory as a goal. It seemed the more I wanted balance, the further away it got from me.

Eventually I transitioned from a believer into a heretic. The aphorism seemed to be both unobtainable and inauthentic. Worse still, a life of balance seemed dull and monotonous. A Zen-y writer had asked: “who wouldn’t want the type of life where every second was enjoyable and you could feel happy without having any reasons to feel happy?” I didn’t.

When I look back, I probably could’ve read the signs to my heretic future better. I had already had a few early life lessons.

Those lessons taught me that balance is not striking and holding a pose, it’s flowing along with movements affecting your pose. The faster you can respond and adjust—that is balance. Balance is obtained by adapting swiftly.

So now, I see more clearly that balance is actually about change and flexibility, not symmetry and/or stasis. Challenges to my equilibrium and those who try to throw me off-kilter shall actually help to improve my balance, because by the day, I am learning how to be more deft and nimble and how to stay focused. I am also no longer afraid of falling.


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