Balance is an interesting concept. Flavors are balanced in well-prepared cuisine, music is recorded and played with balance between treble and bass, and we even use the word to describe the state of our checkbooks. Our family has a beautiful backyard water pond continually in need of care to remain in balance. I’ve learned plenty about the natural chemical components of water from watching the algae bloom when temperatures rise. I can work to beat back the algae and then find there isn’t enough life left in the water to support plant growth. Currently the water lily and lotus are blooming beautifully and a healthy measure of algae is supporting that growth in some kind of odd harmony. I can look at the water and visualize balance.
And then I have a physical connection to balance three evenings a week when I shuttle from work to yoga class. I bought into this schedule with a passion when a thirty-something hard-bodied gym trainer sympathetically oozed “It’s ok. Everyone loses balance when they age.” All I heard was a very patronizing, “You’re getting old and you are going to eventually fall down and break something…and it’s not going to get any better.” It didn’t matter to me that what she said was probably true. I had an internal tantrum.
That was six years ago. I have gained a great deal of physical confidence since I made the choice not to accept the downfalls (pun intended) of allowing age to just do its thing! Beginning this practice at mid-life I am also very grateful that my instructor kindly reminds the class each and every session that yoga is not a competitive sport! We ease into movements. We take our breath seriously and listen to our bodies. The degree to which each twist and position is experienced has everything to do with current levels of stress. Some days my balance is noticeably light and airy; some other days when my mind is preoccupied by fatigue or care…well, not so much, and I’m glad there are no judges in the room.
I gratefully start each session with good health and strength, but that’s hardly true for everyone. I’ve met some marvelous people and learned a lot about perseverance from the women who have told me that their daily dose of yoga has changed their pain profile and freed them from dependence on pain medications for chronic disease. When I noted that the The Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resources Center at City of Hope offers yoga as one measure of palliative care for patients and their caregivers, I knew that I wanted to be part of that support system. What a marvelous addition to a medical facility offering such a boost to the overall well being of people living under the most stressful of conditions. I hope others will consider making a small donation in honor of someone else, or to celebrate your own good health.
And I’d also like to hear what you think about yoga. Do you practice? What does it do for you? Are you interested, but haven’t quite decided? Maybe now is the time to just give it a try!