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Letting the Heart Shine

Finding Balance in Your Yoga Practice

Celebrating the Summer Solstice, I am practicing expansive poses that recharge the mind, body and soul, while keeping me grounded and balanced. Balance is what I have been seeking since I started this practice many moons ago: balance within my body, my practice and my relationships. It may be the Libra within that craves and adores those challenging balance postures, the ones that create clarity, focus and strong foundations. Through our physical practice, we are often drawn to particular asanas and, for me, Ardha Chandrasana is the one that has shined.

Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon, divides the body’s energies equally between balance and strength. Hatha Yoga can also mean Sun and Moon, representing solar and lunar energies. There is a story in Hindu mythology that has so many meanings and lessons to me: the story of Ganesh and the Moon. It’s funny what we relate to and find inspiring.

“Ganesh, the charming elephant-headed God and remover of obstacles, had a love for sweets. One evening after indulging in many treats, he climbed with his stuffed belly atop his trusted steed and ventured home. His steed was a little mouse, so it’s quite amusing to imagine the large elephant carefully balancing on the mouse’s back as they moved along the paths. A cobra snake slithered in front of their path, which scared the little mouse and sent poor Ganesh flying. His belly burst as he hit the ground, sending all of the sweet cakes he had devoured flying across the path. Ganesh tried stuffing them back in and even tied the snake around his belly to help. He heard laughter from above and, looking up in embarrassment, he found Chandra, the Moon God, watching. Angry, Ganesh tore his tusk off and threw it at the moon, causing the moonlight to disappear. Without it, love and balance could not exist. Many gods pleaded with Ganesh to remove it, and he was flattered with their appeals. Ganesh removed it with the condition that Chandra would keep it shining bright and to never laugh at him again.”

This story is always a reminder to me to let my heart shine through balance. It also reminds me that each of our journeys is not perfect, and that there are many falls and obstacles that land in our way. How we deal with them and proceed on our path is the lesson and how we build our inner strength. When you practice Ardha Chandrasana you feel freedom. Envision rays of sunlight extending from the heart as you breathe. Be present and allow yourself to let go of expectations and fears, so you can experience freedom to express yourself mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.


Amanda O'Malley teaches at Yoga Tree Studios. She can be found at The Midtown, Richmond Hill and Vaughan locations. Amanda is a versatile teacher who shares her passion teaching Restorative, Hatha and Core Yoga.