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Falling Into Yoga



Redefining Balance

I don’t have the best balance, particularly some days on my right side or left, and always without warning. While leading a class in Tree, at least I felt awkward when my little birch or big cedar of a body tipped so suddenly, and I had to land both feet on the ground before climbing back up. But then I told myself (and I told them) our balance, or lack of, can surprise us, and we need to meet all our falls with tenderness and awareness.

It’s exceedingly easy to tip, lose bouyancy, and head for the ground, and obviously, not just while rising into Tree or doing anything on the mat. We might say the wrong word to the wrong person at the wrong time, turn the wrong direction, forget where we’re supposed to be, or that it’s Tuesday and not Wednesday.

Such little falls lay the ground (or lay us on the ground) in preparation for the bigger ones to come which, now that I’m 52, I worry about although I hope to live so long. When I’m 72 or 92, how will my Tree look? Will I have to do it sitting or lying down? If I make it to 102, will I simply be looking at the trees around me, and imagining my body in this pose, doing yoga by proxy?

What I do know is that even as I’m strengthening my core, improving my balance, extending my flexibility and building my strength, my body is, like all bodies, going to lose endurance, strength and balance to some extent over the years. Hopefully, my mind will hold onto its agility and expansiveness, but it’s very likely I’ll be processing information a little or a lot slower, not remembering even more names and book titles than I don’t remember now, and forgetting where I put my glasses a bit more often. It’s just the tapestry that time plus a human makes.

So when I feel like I’m falling, I’m trying to give up any shame or last-ditch efforts to force myself back up. Instead, and particularly when I’m practicing alone, I try to make myself rounder and roll on down. There’s a lot to see from and on the ground, and it’s all good practice for the ultimate falling through and beyond this life to whatever comes next.


About Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the Poet Laureate of Kansas, and the author of 14 books, including a forthcoming novel, The Divorce Girl; The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community & Coming Home to the Body (Ice Cube Books); and four collections of poetry. Founder of Transformative Language Arts – a master's program in social and personal transformation through the written, spoken and sung word at Goddard College (Goddard College); where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-writes songs, offers collaborative performances, and leads writing and singing Brave Voice retreats (; and she blogs regularly at her website (

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