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July 2010 Yoga, Travel, and Emotional Stability

Dear Yoga Friends,

B.K.S Iyengar's recent book Light on Life contains an interesting section entitled "Asanas for Emotional Stability". This section lists a sequence for calming the brain and body when beset by disturbing thoughts and feelings. The sequence emphasizes supported poses, and includes both backward and forward bending as well as inversions and pranayama. I encourage you to have a look at this book when you get a chance. But beyond the valuable sequence, he presents the important notion that yoga is interactive with our emotional state.

After traveling with my family by car for two weeks around the southern Baja, often through remote coastal areas, positive emotional experiences stand out: a world of turquoise waters, reef, and surf meeting stark desert landscapes, cows roaming freely in front of our car on dirt roads, town boardwalks, my daughters getting their hair braided on the beach. But as always, the negative vrtti are there: concerns for my kids' health, thoughts about my quite-ill sister a continent and a world away in New York City, uneasiness while and after being stopped on the road by a corrupt cop, etc., etc., write your latest worry here: __________ .

During the past two weeks, my morning practice, whether 2 hours or 20 minutes, instilled a sense of centeredness, completeness, and openness that stayed with me through the day. B.K.S. Iyengar has observed that supported forward bends relieve physical fatigue, and that supported back bends relieve mental fatigue. For demanding travel, both of these ingredients, plus inversions, are the ticket for me. Getting my juices flowing with dog pose, full arm balance, and pincha mayurasana (forearm balance) was also a staple. And pranayama, even if brief or mild, delivers a unique sense of calm, and seals in the effects of the asanas.

Though yoga has value as a physical discipline, it offers so much more than that. Both in life on the road, and on the road of life, yoga provides valuable tools, lessons, and a way of approaching the inevitable challenges.

Hope you are well, and as always I welcome your views on this and anything else.



Yoga on the road. Not the poster boy - argh, what stiff shoulders!
Candid photo by Elana, age 11.

Chad Balch