In our physical practices we are most often encouraged to correct our alignment, and make ourselves symmetrical. We obsess on making ourselves the same on both sides: “My right shoulder is higher than the left”, “My left hip is tighter than the right”, etc… This is a good thing. We need to be careful of chronically working/playing with our bodies in an imbalanced way less we get injured.
However, I fear we may be missing a step in how we approach these imbalances and asymmetries.
Time and again, I see others and even myself getting frustrated and angry at these asymmetries. “Why can’t I get my left hip to relax?!” “What’s wrong with my right ankle?! – Why can’t I balance on that foot?!” The asymmetry doesn’t seem to resolve. Sometimes it gets worse.
Ashtavakra was a sage in the Hindu texts who was cursed in the womb. He was born with eight deformities. In fact, that is the meaning of his name: Ashta= eight and Vakra = bend or deformity. He became a revered sage and was eventually cured of his deformities. Although probably not the intention of his story, I find that his life’s example can be a good allegory for how we deal with imbalances and asymmetries in the body. Instead of succumbing to suffering through his deformities, he gained wisdom and transcended them.
Let’s assume the body is intelligent. Therefore, if there are imbalances or asymmetries in our bodies, then let’s assume the body has a reason for them- a good reason too. Are you overusing some part of the body? Is your body protecting itself from an injury? The yoga teacher Dharma Mittra has written that each yoga pose is representative of a certain attitude in life (openness, humility, etc.). Could it be your body’s quirks and kinks are also physical manifestations of something emotional, spiritual, psychological, or attitudinal?
Ask questions like:
What is the story this pain has to tell?
What is this imbalance trying to communicate with me?
Communicate with your body as an equal and an intelligent partner. You may begin to trust your body. This may be all the body needs to begin to let go of the imbalance. Possibly, your body’s messages can then become pathways to greater wisdom.
And then align yourself. Work on symmetry. Find balance again.