A study in contradictions

This is the first week in a while in which I’ve focused my public yoga classes on one theme. We’ve been working toward eka pada koundinyasana II, a very challenging arm balance. When B.K.S. Iyengar does it, it looks like this:

 

What I love about practicing this pose and watching my mastery of it and it of me dance back and forth, is that one has to achieve balance in so many ways to even begin to lift off the floor. The asana requires great strength of core and shoulders, but incredible flexibility in the hip and hamstrings. One must be lifting the core up, in, and away from the earth at the same time as you allow a softening or lowering of the body onto the support of the arms. At the same time as all of this is happening, one leg and the torso are reaching forward mightily, while the other leg lengthens just as strongly behind. Oh yes, and you have to breathe too…

The balancing of these opposing actions or forces in the pose mirror the more obvious balance you must find to hold it, even for a moment. I find that life presents me with these types of challenges all the time. In the midst of stress/duress/difficulty, can I soften enough to flow through the challenge, rather than stiffening and fighting it (causing suffering). Similarly, when I’m feeling heavy, sapped, or dragged down by life or my physicality on a given day, how can I find the energy to rise above?

If I successfully manage to balance energy and relaxation, stretch and strength, in both life and eka pada koundinyasana II, I may find balance and float there for a moment. Ahhhh…