The other day I had a yoga-fueled epiphany.

It’s hard to avoid, actually; true yoga practice relies much less on the physical and more on the spiritual than popular culture would suggest. There’s usually varying degrees of meditation during class. It’s not why I practice yoga, and to be honest I always resist it a bit for inexplicably stubborn reasons.

This particular class was with a teacher I’d never had. New Years was approaching, and it was the first class I had attended in quite some time (something I hope to amend in the new year, of course). It was a small class, maybe five or so people, and the teacher saw it as an opportunity to get to know us a bit better in this unusually intimate setting.

“There are some new faces here. Let’s start practice by going around and saying our names, plus one word that describes our intentions for the new year.” Oh god. Here we go. Part of me wanted to bolt, or sink into the floor. But I knew what I was going to say before it was even my turn.

I had been especially reflective in the past few weeks as the new year approached (as one is), thinking about what went well or could have gone better in the past year. There were a lot of highs, but also a fair number of lows. There was a lot I accomplished, but there were also a number of things that I wish had gone differently. Life generally felt a bit erratic.

“My name is Jessica, and I’m hoping for balance.”

Later on in class we were all in Warrior 3, a position that requires balancing on one leg while your upper body and other leg form a T-shape. The next step from there was to gracefully bring the leg in the air behind you as you transition into Warrior 2, a lunge position. It’s a pretty hard move to do without stumbling or falling over.

“You’ll make the transition from Warrior 3 to 2 with more control as your balance improves,” our teacher encouraged.


All this time, “balance” was the word repeating over and over in my head, but my desire for it ultimately stemmed from a need for control.

Balance and control go hand in hand. Maintaining balance affords you a certain kind of control as you experience different challenges or struggles.

I’ve found that when I’m most stressed is when I’m also lacking control. Control is safe for me. I like knowing what to expect and how to navigate different situations. When I start to lose control (or merely have the illusion of losing control) is when I panic and respond in dismissive and even desperate ways.

But balance is a different and more positive way to maintain control. Balance can be how you recover when things are unsure or unstable, be it yoga or otherwise. It’s having something to rely on, or enough other things that are in control, so that a momentary lack of control doesn’t feel so disruptive.

I’m hoping for more control in 2015, but by way of balance.

(Related: Balance from October 2014)

Posted Jan 01, 2015

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