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July 09, 2023

One of the beautiful things about yoga is that every pose is your opportunity to practice balance, as you mindfully explore the difference and the fine balance between EFFORT and EASE.

In most poses (other than those that are specifically about releasing all tension, such as child's pose or savasana) you need a certain amount of muscular tension and strength to create the pose. This is the EFFORT, found by engaging the muscles.  Effort is needed to create stability and proper alignment, needed to hold the pose for a few moments.  

But you don't need to hold muscular tension in every part of your body while you practice. And so it becomes a delicate game to balance intelligent effort with EASE. As you are holding your pose, look for ease in the parts of your body where you don't need to create tension to hold the pose safely and comfortably.  Ease can be found in the easy flow of your breath, receiving and releasing.  It can be found in a soft jaw, soft eyes, a smile while you practice.  You may not need muscular effort in your arms to create a particular pose, so keep them soft while creating just a tiny bit of tension in the extended fingers.  Ease can be also found in the softening of your mind.

Really pay attention as you practice each pose and notice where you need muscular tension to hold the pose in good alignment, and where you can release any unnecessary effort and create some softness.

This balance, moving between effort and ease, is at the very heart of the yoga practice, and it is a never-ending dance.  And it creates the integrity of each pose.

And it’s something we can explore in every aspect of our daily life.  Where do we really need the effort…and where can we find some ease and softness to balance it out?

Here’s a mini meditation you can try, standing in Mountain Pose, to explore and feel the balance.

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart and parallel, arms hanging loosely at your sides, shoulders relaxed, eyes closed. 
  • Bring your awareness to your feet, feel them heavy and solid, visualize roots extending from the soles of your feet and anchoring you strongly to the earth.  Gently engage your knees and thigh muscles, your abdominal muscles.  Feel the solid strength of your lower body, holding you upright.  
  • Then bring awareness to the crown of your head, and imagine it is being pulled to the sky by a string, lifting you just a little taller, creating space between each vertebra.  Visualize this spaciousness, this lightness.  And breathe into it.
  • And then imagine strings pulling your shoulders gently apart and away from each other, creating openness across your chest and in your heart.
  • Take a moment to experience and appreciate this lovely balance between the solid, weightiness of your lower body and the light, spaciousness and openness of your upper body.
  • Notice the integrity of your posture.  
  • And notice the confidence this brings.
  • You can remain here, standing in the balance between effort and ease, for as little or as long as you like.  I’d say 3-5 minutes is a good time for this mini visualisation meditation.



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