As the seasons change, balance effort and ease

No matter where you are in the world, things are probably changing around you. If you're up in the Northern Hemisphere like I am, small whiffs of fall are starting to creep in as we watch summer drift away. My friends down under are probably starting to perk up with the anticipation of spring. And if you're in Hong Kong, I guess you're hoping the typhoons will stay at bay.

When things in our environment change, we inevitably feel an internal shift too. The arrival of fall often means we get a little more serious as the playfulness of summer fades. And vice versa. Some things get easier, some get harder.

One of my favourite concepts in yoga is this idea of finding a sense of both ease and effort in each asana, or pose. It's called Stiram Sukham Asanam and literally translated it means "steady, comfortable seat". So, if you’re in a really intense, firey pose, like, say, warrior 2, or crow, how can you find a way to balance all of that effort, all of that strength, with a little bit of ease? How can you soften? Maybe you can steady your breath. Relax you shoulders. Soften your gaze. And similarly, if you’re in a pose you feel is a piece of cake—maybe mountain pose, tadasana—how can you engage more actively? Pull up the thighs. Scoop the navel in towards the spine. Broaden across the collar bone, draw the shoulder blades down the back. Stand taller.

I love this practice, this balance, this dance between ease and effort. In yoga, but also in life. And I find it particularly useful in times like these, when seasons are changing, priorities are shifting, new goals are being made, or old ones are being set aside.

So as you move, and breathe, and dance into the next season, whatever that may be for you, see how you can keep your steady, comfortable seat. The highs and lows of the changing seasons and all that comes with it are beautiful, but they can often cause us to be either stuck in the weeds or thrown off course. So if you’re headed into autumn, can you keep, within you, some of the lightness and playfulness of summer? And if you’re getting ready to welcome the spring, how can you maintain some of the steadiness, determination and grounded-ness we often cultivate in winter?

How can you soften? How can you engage? How do you find a balance between ease and effort? Let me know in the comments below!

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