24 Mar The Balance of Yoga; How To Nourish Your Mind, Body and Soul
Everywhere we look in life there is the continuous fluctuation of balance. An endless search for the ultimate meeting of two opposing points. Hot and cold, sun and moon, strong and weak, serious and playful, Yin and Yang, masculine and feminine… All elements of our life, this world and our being are created around a sense of balance.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein.
As Einstein described, balance is not a stationary, static concept. It is a process. The ancient Hindu belief in Shiva and Shakti are symbolic representations that embody the idea of change and growth. Even if you are unfamiliar with these symbols and their historical background, applying the concepts of Shiva and Shakti can be a very powerful way to enhance your yoga experiences and create deeper connections.
What is Shiva and Shakti? Swami Satyananda Saraswati explains; “Shiva represents the higher cosmic consciousness and Shakti represents evolution of energy”. Swami Nischalananda Saraswati clarifies further; “Shiva represents the unmanifest and Shakti the manifest; Shiva the formless and Shakti the formed; Shiva consciousness and Shakti energy, not only in the cosmos as a whole but in each and every individual”.
Shiva is the masculine energy. Stable and rooted in our consciousness. Shakti is our feminine energy. Active and flowing powerfully. Our ultimate goal and the aim of yoga “ is to invert the process to retread the path of creation as it were, back to union”. In other words we turn our attention internally. We practice creating the connection of the two energies within – our consciousness and our life energy – and by doing so we can then experience the flow of balance, and ultimately, peace.
Balance is the dance of two elements intertwining together; Shiva and Shakti, light and dark, active and passive, stable and fluid. So how do we incorporate these concepts into our yoga practice? Simply by being aware. Be within your body during yogasana and meditation. Search for where the energy exists and where it does not. Make an effort to connect the two.
B.K.S Iyengar states, “When one side is more active than the other, the active side must become the guru for the inactive side to make it equally active…If you are stretching the right leg, for example, the left leg should not be forgotten. On the contrary you have to alert the left leg to remain stable”. During meditation “bring sensation where it is not, and to make awareness flow there too.” When you unite your consciousness and inner energy throughout your entire being ”you are a sensate being, which means that you are alive”.
Listen to your intuition and explore balance in a way that resonates with you. This may be bringing the concept of balance to mind during your asana practice, chanting words such as “Shiva” and “Shakti” to ignite the energy you wish to bring forth, or silently meditating on elements of balance that you connect with. Whatever it is, the act of seeking balance will unite energy from one form to another and create strong connections within yourself, with others and with this beautiful world in which we live.