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Teacher Talk: Balasana

June 23, 2018

 

Some weeks feel heavier than others. Maybe your classrooms have been a little unruly, preparing for the end of the school year. Maybe the transition to the end of the year is wearing you down. Maybe the nightly news seems still at the forefront of your imagination come morning. Make sure you rest. 

 

If you practice yoga, you're probably familiar with Balasana, child's pose, that position in which you rest your hips on your ankles and your forehead on the floor, your arms gently trailing at your sides. It is a position of rest and retreat, a place to breathe and to be grounded. In the mythology of the asanas, this pose is meant to remind us of the balance between the lightness of childhood and the higher calling within each of us. In the myth, the child Krishna playfully puts a large handful of dirt in his mouth. His brother runs to their mother to tattle and their worried mother pries open Krishna's laughing mouth to look inside. Instead of the mess of dirt she expects to see,  she is able to look deep into the vastness of the universe. Krishna has been so absorbed in his play that he has forgotten his divine nature. The pose is meant to remind us of this, that we are meant to be connected to the work of this world but balanced by our higher calling.  In yoga practice, it's used as a rest pose, a space to retreat to after more challenging, active practice or from which to emerge back into action. 

 

And whether you've ever been on a yoga mat or not, the lesson stands. We ask a lot of ourselves as teachers, and sometimes the world asks even more of us. These moments of rest are important. Finding the space and time to retreat matters. Not to retire. Not to concede. But to rest, to restore, so that we can emerge again into the work. You don't have to remember the sanskrit "balasana." Remember the concept of "child's pose," to remind you of the ways in which children are engaged, deeply and joyfully, even in their most challenging work. Our great work, like the children's, is rigorous and profound. It takes all our energy but, like the children, when we are engaged, we don't notice the burden we carry. Not all of our work will feel this way. Some will take all our effort, and we'll know we're expending it. Rest is even more important to prepare for that work. Take the time. Take the breath. Without criticism or judgment. Then get back to the work. 

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