I was the mother of two young children when I was in my late 20’s. The importance of maintaining personal balance (physical, mental, emotional) quickly became apparent to me. My spouse was military and we were living in Goose Bay, Labrador. It was 1972 so information and resources were scarce in remote places.
Without family nearby or even easily accessible by phone, my participation in bible studies and prayer groups led me to women with more life experience. Their friendship and guidance helped me begin to discover the things that would bring me into a healthier, more balanced way of life.
Many years later I discovered hatha yoga, which surprisingly met a spiritual need that seemed to have no answer. I had read about and tried to meditate but was not able to achieve the deep, lasting results others reported. In yoga I learned that body chemistry, especially imbalances, keep the mind and emotions from settling down and this can make meditation frustrating and unfruitful.
The very essence of hatha yoga is balance. “Yoga” is similar in meaning to the word “yoke.” Draft animals often work in pairs and come into harmony and balance through the use of a yoke. When they are equally yoked, they can move as one and achieve the work set before them. In yoga we seek that balance and harmony of body, mind, and emotions that allows us to be one with ourselves and others.
Hatha yoga defines this more specifically. “Ha” means “sun” and “tha” means “moon.” These represent the yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) aspects of life. In hatha yoga, the physical practice (asanas or postures), combined with breathwork (pranayama) and mindfulness, bring the practioner into personal balance and harmony. When I am in harmony with myself, it is more likely that I will be in harmony with others.
For me, one of the early gifts of my practice was the quietness that began to emerge in my thoughts and feelings. I found that I could actually sit in stillness, without restlessness or circular thinking. After 15 years of searching, something was working for me!