By Georgie Edwards | 9 December 2020
Wait, just before you read this...
Take a long deep breath in,
Then a soft and smooth breath out.
Now, close your eyes and repeat that four more times.
Now we're ready.
'Everything in moderation' a wise man once said to me (it just so happens that this wise man is my Dad). These three words have stuck with me since my childhood and shaped me into the person I am today. You'll probably be familiar with the phrase 'work hard, play hard' - well that pretty much sums up my family.
Just for the record, I've never been an advocate for burnouts or crippling stress; however, a little bit of pressure and difficulty is necessary for our growth. I believe in the importance of purpose, play and rest. I've carried this simple yet profound message of moderation and balance into my teachings as a yoga instructor. To find that perfect middle way through life, 'the in-between'. Yin and Yang, Light and Dark, Masculine to Feminine, Sun to the Moon. All complement each other, where one cannot exist without the other.
'We have made sleep deprivation a symbol of ambition and rested a symbol of laziness. We have made being too busy a symbol of importance'. - Dr Shimi Kang
Balance and moderation are vital in everything we do. When you feel tired, rest, don't push yourself through it because you think you 'should' go for that run! Rest is where we find our balance, our moments to be honest with ourselves and reflect on our lives. Play and be silly when your heart calls upon it, as this is the window for creativity and passion.
In the stillness and the silence comes purpose and truth where life is guiding you to go. Have your cake then eat green salad later. Boogie like nobody is watching, and the same goes for meditation.
But when you feel the energy moving through your body - dance, wiggle, explore - do what makes you the best version of yourself. The body is a powerful communicator and will begin to tell you what you need.
By introducing this way of thinking to our yoga practice, it helps us understand the roots of yoga. I'm not talking about the impossibly flexible handstand yoga we see on social media; I'm talking about the act of merely being in this life (the yin), releasing this constant busyness we try to maintain (the yang).
It may all sound quite contradictory; however, actually mastering this equilibrium is the key to unlocking our whole yoga practice. If we can be both - put in the effort, build strength and ground ourselves while at the same time exploring more simplicity and ease, then we've truly found something magical in ourselves.
Balance over Christmas
'Rather than being disheartened by the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it? What if we said, yes, this is the way it is; this is what it means to be human, and decided to sit down and enjoy the ride'. - Pema Chodron
The festive period is a time when we all naturally lose our balance; we neglect our routines and solitude as we enjoy more time with our communities (Covid dependent!). However, this can come at a cost to our mental wellbeing. There is a constant DO DO DO around Christmas. But when we are actually face to face with the people we love, we're often disappear into our heads instead. A few years ago, I decided to take a digital detox over Christmas and now its a ritual I do every year.
So how do we begin to rebalance?
Listen to your needs at this moment, not how you were feeling yesterday or last week but NOW. Take a few moments either in the morning or when you get back from work to sit in stillness. Without distractions, without your phone. You can answer the questions in your mind or write them down if you'd prefer.
Ask yourself … How am I doing? What sensations can I feel in my body? What emotions arise? What do I need in order to thrive? You'll begin to understand your individual needs and how you can come to equilibrium.
'If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself'. - Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found in Accra
If you're keen to learn a little more about balance, some of the resources I used for the article include this TedTalk by Dr. Shimi Kang which features some fascinating ideas on adaptability and the importance of a balanced life, and the Deliciously Ella podcast - highly recommended.
Georgie Edwards, The Knotted Yogi, is a London-based yoga teacher who trained in the northern mountains of India. Find out more here www.theknottedyogi.com