Finding a Balanced Mind and Body
by Lisa Ash Drackert
Springtime. We arise from the gloom of winter and posit, “I have so much energy now that the sun is shining! I am invincible!” We want to work all day long and play all night long. By saying yes to everything, we over-work, over-commit and end up over-all exhausted. It’s easy to forget the wisdom of a balanced life-style which includes both rest and play.
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– we cannot hear this wisdom which calls us to healthy, balanced living.
Ishvara is a teaching guide. Ishvara teaches us humility by reminding us that there is a wisdom bigger than our individual ego. In fact, ancient Vedic scholars didn’t sign their name to their writings or teachings, believing that they were simply conduits for the wisdom and teachings of Ishvara.
Isvara doesn’t demand or cajole or plead; it is simply ours to access through deep listening. It brings us 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 body. It increases focus and concentration.
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 left side of the nose and exhale through the right 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 as often as needed throughout the day. It’s perfect before an important meeting, after lunch break or anytime your mind slides towards imbalance.