In my last post I wrote generally about balance of body, mind, and emotions. This time I want to focus on finding physical balance.
In hatha yoga, we begin with the physical body because it is the part of ourselves that we can see, touch, use, feel, experience. Of course those of us who teach or have been yoga practitioners for some time understand that finding balance and wholeness in the physical body affects our mental and emotional well-being as well.
In fact, beginning with the physical is wise as well as practical. Calming the mind or emotions, for example, can be impossible if the body chemistry is out of wack. For example, I was in my late twenties when the medical world came up with the concept of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). It was a significant breakthrough for women because with identification comes information on how to create balance withing the experience.
I read everything I could get my hands on, which actually wasn’t much. This was pre-internet so magazine, books, talk shows were the best source for current information. I began paying attention and realized that caffeine, sugar, salt, and lack of exercise and rest intensified my mental and emotional ups and downs for a week before menses onset and the week during as well. That is half of every month!! As I learned to limit the intake of these foods while walking more (and eventually joining the new rage of jogging), mood swings lessened significantly. I slept better, thought more clearly and joyfully experienced a lessening of the intensity of cramping and headaches. Life was oh-so-much better!
This experience opened my mind to the idea of the interaction of body, mind, and emotions. Over the years I have discovered what best keeps me in balance. I am now post-menopausal so that is no longer an issue. Now there are other physical issues, like keeping a healthy blood sugar balance because I have a tendency toward hypoglycemia.
Do I have a formula to offer you? Nope.
I do have a few suggestions.
Pay attention to: your physical energy levels with relationship to different types of food, how you digest different foods. For example, I noticed in my late thirties that raw onions were no longer something I could digest well. If you aren’t sure how to evaluate your diet for your age, general condition, etc. perhaps your doctor can refer you to a reliable nutrionist. It helped me immensely.
Ask yourself simple questions and look at the answers honestly and without judgement: Do I eat regularly throughout the day so that my energy stays steady? Am I willing to let go of things that undermine balance and health – like an overabundance of sodas or sweets? Do I eat more fresh foods that processed foods? Have I learned to read labels? Do I get enough rest or am I regularly running myself into the ground? Have I found a form of exercise that suits my lifestyle and current physical condition? Do I make time for that a sufficient number of times each week? Am I willing to try something that is out of my comfort zone, like yoga or tai chi?
Talk to people who stay fit, laugh a lot and enjoy their lives. Never hesitate to ask for guidance or help with creating a blanced, healthy life.
Keep on keepin’ on until new behaviors become part of your normal routine. You deserve to feel good and enjoy life.
Try stuff. If something isn’t a fit for you, try something else. There is no one way that works for everyone. You get to choose but choose you must.
Above all, find what works for you.