September is a month known for transitions and changes, as we move away from one set of habits and behaviors to another. It often means back to work, back to school, transforming afternoons of complacency and relaxation to times of preparation and industriousness. At our best, we welcome shorter days and a sun that burns cooler with acceptance, an understanding that seasons change, like all things, and that summer will return. Then again, we also find ourselves mourning the loss of flip flops, fat juicy slices of watermelon, and anticipating the cold, dark winter that lurks not far off.
Our ability to remain in the present helps determine how likely we’re able to be balanced, healthy beings. That being said, likewise our ability to stay balanced helps keep us rooted to the present as it unfolds. The greatest challenge at the turn of any season is to maintain a sense of wholeness and evenness, even as the world around us changes. To do this takes equal parts courage and conviction in yourself, and also a sincere willingness to adapt.
Something I’ve noticed about myself (and my students) is that when I come into a balancing pose like Ardha Chandrasana (Half-Moon Pose), my tendency is to inhale sharply and hold my breath as if becoming more statue-like and rigid will allow me to hold the balance. But there is so much learning to be had from freedom of movement, even in this one-legged, one-armed hip-opening challenge. Not only because holding your breath is unsustainable, but also because the gentle sway, gentle contraction and expansion of your body that comes with breathing fully is what true balance really is: a place between stillness and movement, hardness and softness, exertion and comfort.