Balance in the Practice

Photo by Michele Venne

Seasonal changes affect the body, even if we believe we’re immune to nature. At this time of the Autumnal Equinox, having a balanced asana practice could be helpful. An even mix of seated and standing poses and of forward bends and backbends can help to balance the systems of the body.

They say an egg can be balanced on its end on the equinox, but really, one could do that any time of year. It’s the same with standing balance poses. If the core is strong, then balance can come easier, on the equinox or not!

If one moves in and out of poses, but doesn’t move with the breath, then it’s exercise and not yoga. Moving with the breath, focusing on something besides the thoughts in the mind is a beginning practice of yoga. There are some pranayama (breath work techniques) that can be done while participating in an asana practice. Ujjayi breath and complete yogic breath are examples of what can be used while moving.

Alternate nostril breathing, or Nadi Shodhana, should be used while seated. A simple way to utilize this technique is to use the index fingers of both hands. (There is a mudra, hand/finger placement, but it’s not necessary to begin.) Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and place the index fingers near each nostril. Gently close the left nostril, inhale through the right nostril, close the right nostril, release the left, and exhale through the left nostril. Inhale left, close, release right, and exhale right. If at any time you feel breath starved or lightheaded, then stop the technique and allow the breath to return to normal.

By alternating nostrils while breathing, we align the energy that runs up the spine. Since the equinox is all about balance, give it a try, and notice if more than just your breath becomes even.