Balancing in the Dark

You hear it everywhere! Balance! Make your life balanced! Eat a balanced diet! Work to restore balance in your relationship!  It’s the new “in” word – balance. You’re not supposed to work too much, or play too much, or eat too much, or anything too much.  If you’re a mom who works outside of the house you’re supposed to find balance by spending more “quality” time with your kids. If you are a man who works 60 hours a week you’re supposed to find time to relax and rejuvenate – go fishing or play golf. It’s like the balance police are watching us!

In yoga we work on finding balance in a literal way. We practice balancing to increase the strength in the muscles that hold us upright – because we don’t want to fall and get hurt or break a bone. We balance on one foot in Tree Pose or Warrior III. We even balance on our hands sometimes in Crow or Handstand. Some of us even balance on Stand Up Paddle boards on the water! I’ve even seen people balance on slack lines strung between two trees! But have you ever tried balancing in the dark?

Tonight I visited Crescent Moon Yoga in LaConnor, WA and took a Mixed Levels class with Dawn Glavick. Dawn came to yoga after a battle with Breast Cancer. Scar tissue from her surgeries was affecting her range of motion so she tried yoga as a means of retaining as much movement as possible. She is now 6 years cancer free (BIG HUGE YAY!!!) and has been teaching yoga for about a year.

As a yoga teacher I usually feel confident while balancing but not tonight! It wasn’t totally dark but the studio lights were dim and there were some candles lit. As we moved into Warrior III, I set my drishdi a few feet in front of me but could not seem to keep my standing leg still. I fell out of the pose several times. (Luckily I kept my cursing internal!) You wouldn’t think that dim lighting would make that much difference! Seeing my frustration Dawn said, “Balancing IS more difficult in the dark.”

When she said this I realized I’d felt this before! On a recent visit to Houston I went to an underground tunnel with very dim lighting that vacillated slowly in shades of pink. It was a SUPER cool setting and I couldn’t keep myself from trying Dancers Pose. I was really surprised (and frustrated) that it was almost impossible for me to find the full expression of the pose!  No matter how hard I stared at the black edge of the walkway I could not hold still! During my struggle the guard at the end of tunnel mentioned it being due to the low lighting!

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Give it a try! Take any pose that you are comfortable with and then close your eyes. Notice how you begin to sway almost immediately. The loss of vision greatly affects your ability to be still. Then try it in low light – see how much light you need to hold the pose.

Besides the balance part of class being challenging for me, Dawn’s class was great! What is exceptional is Dawn herself. Dawn simply radiates peace. I’m not sure if it’s her breast cancer survivor status or if she’s always been this way but just being around her makes you feel calm and at ease.

So while I agree that a healthy balance in life is desirable I choose to practice moderation in all things including moderation. So if you want to ride the ferris wheel a hundred times – go ahead! If you want to eat a bucket of ice cream on your birthday – be my guest!  If you want to try Dancer’s Pose in the dark – more power to ya! Just remember that balance is a practice in life and in yoga. Don’t expect perfection. Close your eyes and see what happens!

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