I recently fell out of dancer's pose (Natarajasana or Lord of the Dance Pose) at the exact moment my focus left my breath to chase a trail of thoughts.
Dancer's is probably my most favorite balancing pose. It invites an experience of both grace and strength, steadiness and expansion. Plus, it's a pretty pose.
The moment I fell out of dancer's, my thoughts were filled with self-doubt about a situation in my life. Like a magnetic force, negative thinking pulled me off my center and out of the pose. I witnessed myself shift from steady and strong to distracted and wobbly. Once my mind latched onto self-doubt, I sensed the fall coming, and there was no stopping it.
Now out of the pose, I paused in mountain (tadasana), closed my eyes, and tried to regain calm, even rhythmic breathing. But the negative thoughts continued to fire. My thinking was on overdrive, and falling out of the pose only fueled the negativity I was feeling about myself.
Get a grip, I told myself. Begin again. Take a deep breath and begin again. It's just a yoga pose, not life or death.
I inhaled deeply as I softened my eyes to a single point and raised my right arm to take the pose on the other side. Holding my left foot with my left hand, I let out a strong exhale and moved into the pose. The exhale emptied my mind. With each breath in and out, I felt a subtle pulsing from within as I reached out and kicked back.
I rested my mind on my breath and allowed the shape of the pose to hold my body.
For those few moments in dancer's, my mind was quiet and my breath was full. We all know clarity such as this is fleeting. Our minds are designed to think, which is both a blessing and curse of our humanity. Therefore, the work is beginning again—whether it's falling out of a pose and trying again or consciously choosing to shift from negative to positive thinking over and over and over again.
My "dancer's experience" embodied the direct relationship between our minds and bodies and how the quality of our thoughts affect our physical being.
Negative thoughts throw us off balance. Conversely, positive ones are grounding. When I have a positive thought during a yoga pose, I feel myself expand, open, and root down to grow taller. I am not shy about taking up space, getting creative, or trying something new. With negative thinking, I shrink, become insecure, and stumble.
Next time you are on your mat, observe how the quality of your thoughts affect your balance. Notice how positive and negative thoughts manifest in your body and play themselves out in the poses.
Ultimately, our thoughts affect our sense of balance (physical, mental, emotional) in our lives just as they do on our yoga mats. As you move through your day, notice how the quality of your thoughts affect your mood, energy level, self-perception, and relationships.
It's only through noticing these trends in ourselves that we can become aware of how the thoughts we dwell on affect our physical, mental, and emotional balance. The power in this awareness in tremendous and can lead us to experience balance more regularly on our mats and in our lives.
How does the quality of your thoughts affect your balance? I invite you to share your experience in the comments below.