Livin’ La Vida Yoga: Balance… in General

livin' la vida yoga

There are multiple definitions of balance, but, for right now, let’s go with these two:

Noun: an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. Synonyms: stability, equilibrium

Noun: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. Synonyms: evenhandedness, fairness

Now, throw both those ideas out of your mind and balance on one foot. Really, right now. Put balance into action by balancing on one foot. Now, rub your belly and pat your head. That is what balance really feels like, whether it is on the mat or at home/work. It’s like pretending to be a flamingo with a headache and indigestion. I say this not to be a pessimist, but to be real. Do you remember the first time you did tree (vrksasana) pose? Warrior (virabhidrasana) III? Balance in our life off the mat is more like a scale than an even distribution on one foot while pulling our leg toward our head, but the work we do on the mat helps keep us striving for a more even scale off the mat.

The best place to start talking about balance is in general: wanting more balance in life overall. The first place to start? Looking at how we spend our time! Take an average day and write down everything as you do in it with the approximate amount of time you spend. For instance, a 90-minute yoga really is about 2 hours’ worth of your time, between driving there (and leaving), getting there early enough to unroll your mat, use the restroom, and snagging a parking spot. So where are you spending most of your time? Work and sleep will be/should be most of your 24 hours and if you love your job (and sleeping) then how you spend your free time hopefully is just a big happy bonus of high fives. And if you don’t love your job? Then your free time better be stuff you love to balance out the time you spend not liking work. What about stay at home parents? Same rule applies, if you love what you do, your free time just reinforces and allows you to feel good. If you don’t like staying at home with your children, well, I don’t if there is a big enough amount of free time to counterbalance that. Perhaps it is a time for a change!

balanceAfter looking at how you spend an average day, you can start to fine tune your time and make changes to create more balance between what you love and what you don’t, between work life and home life, between time with the kiddos and time solo or with your partner. Balance. Don’t be fooled into believing that the scales will be even all the time though, life in balance is probably more about handling what needs to be done in the now more than creating perfect equality. Work is important to pay our bills, feed ourselves and our families and be able to do the things we enjoy, so that will take some priority. So, you may be wondering, if balance is really just observing how the scale is tilted and working at making it as close to even as possible, why are we so focused on balance? Truthfully, because balance is hard. Like forearm scorpion pose hard. Not impossible, but it takes a lot of work.

Let the work begin! Taking how we approach balance poses on the mat and getting comfort with physically balancing our bodies will allow us to take those same efforts off the mat. Here are two poses to get you balanced:

Tree Pose (Vrksasana):

This balance pose teaches us that balance comes at different times. Each side is different, sometimes our left side is stronger, sometimes it is the right. Maybe both legs are strong enough to hold their own, on their own. Some days work is the priority, some days you are, that’s balance.

Warrior III (Virabhidrasana):

Now let’s bring some power to our balance! Warrior III asks of us to fly, even though our wings may not be ready, it asks us to be strong when we feel weak, and to trust that we are strong enough. The real lesson here though is that when we do warrior III we are working hard to find balance between the lifted leg and the torso, but like the balancing scale it is effort and work to be “even”. {No doubt now that life on the mat mimics life off the mat}.

Try these poses when you are feeling off kilter, do them on the daily and just see how you reclaim balance in your life. Balance, in general, comes when we are aware and striving for it.

The scales of life are not always going to be even, like a blue moon or the stars aligning, but when we reflect and examine how we are spending our time so that we can create space for the things we love, that is when balance comes. Our “on the mat” practice reminds us what it takes to live in balance, practice and focus.


Liz Vartanian is a yoga teacher, writer, and mom living in Austin, TX. She teaches restorative yoga offering yogis a chance to leave class feeling energized and supported with a side of community as students are often surprised with home cooked goodies after long relaxing Savasanas. She is the co-creator of eight limb//life, a course encouraging everyone to discover their practice of yoga in all aspects of life. When not teaching yoga, Liz can be found with her family where there is coffee, good friends, toy trucks, and a body of water!

Check out Liz’s website, Facebook, and Instagram pages

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