Thursday, February 11, 2010

Time for yoga, technology for balance

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
~ Albert Einstein
Rather than simplifying our lives, sometimes technology seems to do the opposite…. new gadgets, hours in front the computer screen, google-reader feed and emails flooding in my inbox, and now the latest “google buzz” business.

Do these make me more productive, or are they scattering my energy and focus?

In my constant shuffle through information (and emotional) overload, I realize that certain aspects of technology have become daily necessities for my overall wellbeing.

Two examples I immediately think of are e-stickies and e-journaling. E-stickies on my laptop provide daily reminders of short-term projects, long-term goals, daily habits to cultivate, values to live by. The e-journal is my password-protected space where I safely de-clutter my mind… sometimes going months without it, but sometimes opening it multiple times a day.

Hiliary Critchley is an amazing woman, with whom I have had many coffee-date discussions about these issues… questioning ourselves: Is this what I really want to be doing in my life? Where do I go from here? How do I fit everything in? We both came to the practice of yoga, in part because it helps us with these questions.

Below, Hiliary talks about finding balance... and how technology helps, rather than hinders this process.


Guest Blogger, Hiliary Critchley:
Time for yoga, technology for balance

The simple purpose that yoga plays in my life is the maintenance of balance.

The point of balance in an increasingly complex and technical world is to, according to the Wikipedia definition, “maintain the center of gravity of a body within the base of support with minimal postural sway.”

For me, this balance takes many forms:
  • Balance in food consumption: A workout routine allows me to more easily walk by those aromas emanating from the closest restaurant. To remember that food is meant to nourish and sustain the body, which brings associated pleasure, but that food can also lead to negative health outcomes if over-indulged in.
  • Balance in emotional state: The highs and lows are more easily taken in stride when viewed from a larger perspective. Yoga reminds me of my small place in the world and in history.
  • Balance between work and personal life: My life is a mix of both. Each segment of my life should take only a certain percentage of my time and energy. 
  • Balance in relationships with others and with myself: If one over-gives to others, yoga is a great way to reconnect with your own true desires. Sometimes these are hidden not within the complexities of the mind, but within the body.
Like most people, my challenge is to maintain a regular practice of healthy, balanced living.

Although there are plenty of arguments about technology disrupting natural human and community rhythms, there are just as many arguments posturing the opposite. While technology can drain my time and energy, it also enables me to squeeze in a yoga practice, to make productive use of time while waiting for people, and to make more time for my significant other, my friends, and myself.

Here are some ways we can use technology to help stay balanced:
  • Reconnecting with friends: Social media (Facebook, Twitter) has made this exponentially easier than it was five years ago.
  • Cooking: Look up a quick and healthy recipe on epicurious or 
  • Maintaining daily health habits: Use free applications on the iphone like “Lose It” to look up the nutritional value of a meal about to be consumed, or “Yoga Trainer Lite” and “Yoga at Home” to get ideas for a home yoga practice when unable to make it to a class. 
  • Traveling: When out of town, quick searches to find yoga and healthy food in a new city.
  • Creativity: Blogging, writing, tweets, facebook updates... all opportunities for creativity, getting a message out there, or expressing an emotion when something out of the ordinary happens. 
  • Laughter: Watching shows like the Daily Show or Colbert Report on when you have a free 20 minutes. 
  • Health monitoring: Using tools such as google’s personal health records to keep track of your cholesterol, BMI, vaccinations, etc. These are the wave of the future.
As I continue to work on balancing my time, rather than get distracted by technology, I try to use these tools to help me keep up a regular practice of yoga and health maintenance. In the end, it is that which helps me balance all other aspects of my life.


  1. Great post Hiliary! One way that technology helps me balance is listening to any NPR program any time on ipod/computer. I find it really relaxing while I am doing dishes or cooking. I hate technology but some things are nice!

  2. Hil, great piece! thanks for the reminder that yoga is an essential part of a balanced life. i'm headed off to my Iyengar class in about an hour and reading this has helped boost my commitment to get there through the snow when what I really want to do have another cup of something warm and snuggle down deeper under the covers on a day when I don't actually have to leave the house till we head up to Ct. for a session with Eliza at about 1. I know how much better I will feel and everything else will go if I get to yoga. Happy to hear you sounding so well! xoxo ellen

  3. Thought provoking! I love technology and what it can do to simplify (although I'll wholeheartedly agree that it can also complicate to a large extent if we're not careful) but I also worry about the growing propensity to use remote tools (social media) in place of personal interaction. I think it circles back to the question of balance- I find myself so busy that I substitute remote contact at my leisure for more time-consuming one-on-one interactions. One of the great things about yoga, meditation, or similar pursuits, is the ability to focus on myself while actually getting out and interacting in a group.

  4. I agree with Greta about NPR. Live in Concert from "All Songs Considered" is the best little gem out there. You can listen to tons of concerts from the comfort of your own home!

  5. Loved this blog post! Thanks, Hiliary and Christina.
    One thing that I find helpful to achieve balance is to have a detailed and inspiring personal mission statement describing what I want to achieve in my life, and then consulting it as I plan the upcoming week. In this way, my time is planned around my life goals, rather than, for example, other people's priorities. Stephen Covey writes eloquently about this.

  6. Christina, love the blog! Hiliary, thought-provoking post. I think we often forget that we control the balance in our lives and that technology, like yoga, can help us maintain that balance.