How to Maintain Balance on the Mat and in Your Life

You know those poses that make you feel amazing when they work and frustrated as hell when they don’t? Lately mine has been Tree Pose, or Vrksasana. It’s one of those asanas that just looks so “yoga.” While this pose looks easy, if you can’t find your balance, your tree does more falling than standing. Those who practice will agree, our yoga mirrors our life, our life mirrors our yoga. When we are balanced on our mat, in rhythm with our breath and in the flow, our life seems to follow and vice versa. But how do we keep it that way? How do we maintain the balance.
Here are a few easy ways to start:
1. Find good food you like to eat. Find those healthy foods you enjoy eating. Finding healthy and yummy food will make eating well not only easier but something you’ll actually want to do! This will in turn make you feel better inside and out, giving you the energy, focus, and confidence you need to lead a balanced life on and off the mat.
Recommended read: What to eat and drink before and after yoga
2. Find things that move you. Get on your mat. Go for a walk. Play with the dog. Hit the gym. Find something fun that gets you moving and working out won’t be that thing you dread. Make exercising something you look forward to, and it will be easy to incorporate as a part of your normal routine.
3. Practice “Cake as a way of life.” This quote comes from one of my favorite book series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. It’s an amazing bit of wisdom. Essentially it says, eat or do whatever makes you happy, just not in unbalanced excess. Work whatever your “cake” is into your life. You can have a treat now and then without punishing yourself. Moderation in your life means you can have your cake and eat it too! Just don’t go overboard and you’ll remain in balance.
4. Go Easy on Yourself. It’s called a yoga practice for a reason. No one is ever going to be perfect. There is no winner (in yoga, we’re all winners!). So don’t punish yourself for mistakes — they’re how you learn. Don’t ever feel inadequate. You are spectacular. You are allowed to be a human being with flaws and quirks and strengths and split ends. This is balance in your self-image and self-acceptance.

5. Change up your soundtrack. Listen to something new on your morning commute. Find an interesting podcast or make a new playlist to brighten your morning (and evening). Just because you do it every day doesn’t mean it has to be monotonous. If you practice yoga everyday you don’t do the same thing day in and day out; take a little of that diversity into your daily routine.
6. Try something – anything – new! Break out of your rut or routine. Samskaras are grooves woven into the brain through continuous thought-patterns, or habits. Break those samskaras by breaking out of old, confining ways of thinking or doing things. Find a new route to work, or try doing something familiar in a new way. If nothing else, you’ll have a story to tell. Bonus points for trying something new with an old friend.
Recommended read: 10 Reasons Your Best Friend is The Perfect Yoga Partner
7. Pick up the phone. Or log onto Skype. Or even better go see a friend face to face. Friends and family help us gain perspective, we have fun together, and they support us. Nothing beats a great conversation with a good friend. They know us better than most, and they bring us a sense of being safe, accepted, and loved. Through this “recharge,” we can gain a greater sense of peace and balance in the other areas of our lives.
8. Get outside. It seems like these days we spend most of our time sitting inside staring at a computer screen. We’re either working, checking emails, getting lost on youtube or watching the highlight reel of other’s lives on social media. If you’re feeling mis-aligned, shut down your computer, turn off your TV, and go outside. In order to ground yourself to the earth and gain balance you must literally connect your self to source. Feel the ground beneath your feet, breathe in the freshest air you can find, feel the breeze, let the sun shine on your face and feel what it is like to be alive and part of this earth.
Recommended read: 6 Reasons It Feels so Darn Good to Do Yoga Outside
Balance is something we can all use. It brings both strength and ease to daily life; just think about all the muscles involved in making Tree Pose look that graceful. In less physical terms, too, balance is something we all work toward. Balance in the foods we eat and the exercise we do. Balance between “me time” and the time we devote to those around us. Finding balance first on the mat is the way you will ultimately cultivate balance in all areas of your life. We invite you to post photos of you in Tree Pose in the comments below.

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Ashley Stern

A Wisconsinite at heart, Ashley is currently a student working on her masters in creative writing in Edinburgh, Scotland. She’s a writer, a reader, traveler, a nerd, and a lover of life. Ashley is new to yoga and developing her practice from her student flat. She drinks a lot of tea and even more coffee. She’s a dog person, wears lots of purple, and believes in Laini Taylor’s wise words, “Cake as a way of life.”

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