Yoga & Balance

When I was sixteen and practicing intensely with B.K.S. Iyengar, the Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Institute in Poona was completed.  This new facility featured the original yoga wall.  For the first time, Guruji taught ways to use wall ropes to lengthen the spine, create traction, and restore the body.

As we explored various ways to do poses using wall ropes, we taught our discoveries to others.  During this time, a group of students from abroad came to study with Guruji.  They had studied with him in the past and were eager to learn “what was new”.  They were all thrilled with the new wall rope system, and when they left, they expressed their desire to put up wall ropes in their studios back home.

Two years later, the same group returned to continue their studies at the Institute. We were astonished! They could no longer do the poses that required strength or endurance. Their intensity had faded and their poses had wilted.  Their bodies were floppy, depleted of spunk and strength.  We couldn’t understand what had happened.

Very diplomatically, we inquired about their daily practice.  They said they had been so excited about the wall ropes that their entire practice now consisted of hanging on wall ropes in one pose after another! We had our answer: An approach that had been designed to merely balance an active practice had become their sole practice, hence their practice was now an imbalanced practice.

The young and aggressive members of our group of student teachers had a good laugh at the expense of these yogic bats, yet they continued to practice in their own imbalanced ways.  Many of them felt that they were far too young and fit to bother with restorative poses at all.  Restoratives were for the old or the weak!  Or the lazy!  These young teachers just wanted to “go for the burn,” and become lean and mean.  They wanted to become as physically attractive to the opposite sex as possible, yet somehow appear “yogic”.  As an inevitable consequence, one of these young teachers became physically abusive to his wife and children.  Another ended up with extremely high blood pressure, while yet another became chronically irate and judgmental.  Still another, violently pushing against the tensions that were bottled up inside him, ended up resorting to the bottle.

So, those who practiced only restoratives could barely hold themselves up, those who practiced only vigorous poses ended up agitated and aggressive.

Ah, balance!  Why are you so hard to find?


© 2008-2018 Aadil Palkhivala & Purna Yoga

Aadil Palkhivala is a world-renowned yoga master, co-founder of Purna Yoga, co-owner of the premier yoga studio in the Pacific Northwest, Alive & Shine Center, co-director of The Purna Yoga College teacher training program, and the author of “Fire of Love- For Students of Life, For Teachers of Yoga”.