Springtime. I come out of hibernation and act like a maniac. I want to take all sorts of yoga classes all over town, attend all sorts of events, run all sorts of trails with Russell Clive, plant all sorts of herbs and be ridiculously active until the sun goes down. I think, “I have so much energy now that the sun is shining! I am invincible!”
And then the next day, I need a 2 hour nap and am wearing pajamas by 3 pm.
My reality slackens its grip on the wisdom of “a balanced lifestyle,” something I wholeheartedly endorse as a yoga instructor. In yoga, we call wisdom “ishvara.” Ishvara is the collective consciousness that we all have access to if we are quiet enough to listen. However, if we are unbalanced– if our energies and attentions swinging wildly between frenetic activity and forced hibernation, then we are not listening to this wisdom.
Ishvara is a wisdom tradition and also a teacher. Ishvara teaches us to humility by reminding us that there is a wisdom bigger than our individual ego. Each of us has direct access to these teachings through yoga and through meditation.
Isvara doesn’t demand or cajole or plead, it teaches and leads our life back into balance when we are at the end of our tether.
My go-to fix for finding balance in an unbalanced world is a pranayama technique designed specifically to restore balance to the mind and increase focus.
Nadi Shodana: Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Use your right hand. Make a ‘mudra’ of first two fingers extended, other fingers lightly folded in to the palm.
- Rest the first two fingers lightly between the eyebrows. The knuckle of the thumb rests lightly on the right-side bridge of nose and the knuckle of the ring finger rests lightly on the left-side bridge of nose.
- Take 3 cleansing inhales and exhales.
- On an inhale, apply light pressure to the right side of the nose and inhale through the left side of the nose.
- On an exhale, apply light pressure to the right side of the nose and exhale through the left side of the nose.
- Continue alternating the breath in the nostrils for 10 rounds.
- To finish, rest your hands lightly in your lap. Take 3 cleansing inhales and exhales.
- Quietly affirm to yourself: “I maintain focus and balance.”
Emerge from this practice feeling focused and balanced. Use it as often as needed throughout the day. It’s perfect before an important meeting, after lunch break or anytime your mind slides towards imbalance.
(editor’s note: a version of this story was published April 10, 2017 on mayayoga.com. used with permission.)