The Balancing Squirrel- Janet Archer


Most people tend to hold their breath

when they practice a balance pose in a yoga class.

Muscles tighten and jaws clench just because they are attempting to stand on one foot or the other.

Thoughts like; “I’ve got to be able to do this, I can’t fall, why don’t I have better balance and this is very serious ”

seem to flood the mind, and nothing but a ton of tension is created.

Creating more tension in an already (well, most of us) tight body is not really the point when practicing yoga!

I bet if we switched up the self talking that goes on in the head to something different, we might alleviate most of that tension.

What if we used balance as an opportunity to not give up on ourselves?

Maybe we could take on a “so what” attitude.

I am falling, so what.

I fell, so what.

I might fall, so what.

I’ll be a cheater if I leave a foot on the floor or hold the wall. Really? Who says so and anyway, “so what!”

Why do we use so many opportunities to make ourselves wrong, to set a high bar of perfection that we might never reach?

And along the way, as we are trying to reach that “perfection,” we get really tense

and usually

give up on ourselves.

The other day I watched a squirrel climb a bush outside my window and then try to hop from a branch in the bush over to a bird feeder that sat in the middle of the lawn. They were NOT close together at all.

That crazy squirrel! He did not give up.

I sat and watched the “jumping squirrel show” outside my window. And before too long, he nailed it.

He jumped from the bush to the roof of the bird feeder, where he landed flat on his feet. I didn’t think he could do it. I wanted to go out and shake his hand, tell him I was so impressed with his perseverance; I admired his style.

 I counted how many times he tried and DIDN’T make it to the bird feeder. 17 times all together!

That’s not counting the times he tried to climb the bird feeder pole only to be greeted with the squirrel shield that stopped him in his tracks.

He never gave up on himself.

He kept choosing to go back again and again, until finally, there he was, where he wanted to be.

Jump. Fall. Get up. Repeat.

Over and over.

Sort of like, balance, fall, get up, repeat in yoga class.

Granted, he was looking for food to sustain him and fill his belly.

But aren’t we looking for something to sustain us when we practice yoga?

Aren’t we looking for a place of kindness and release in both our bodies and our minds?

Next time you are about to “jump” into a balance posture, channel some squirrel energy.

Make the choice to not give up on yourself.

Relax into that amazing moment of not caring whether you fall or not.

Feel everything soften

as you take a breather from taking yourself so darn seriously.

Be like a squirrel.

It looks to me like it would be

so much more fun!