The Wisdom of Equanimity: Teachings and a Sequence

That devotee who looks upon friend and foe with equal regard,

Who is not buoyed up by praise nor cast down by blame,

Alike in heat and cold, pleasure and pain,

free from selfish attachments,

The same in honor and dishonor,

quiet, ever full, in harmony everywhere,

firm in faith – such a one is dear to me.

 Bhagavad Gita 12.18-19

 

Do thy work in the peace of Yoga and, free from selfish desires, be not moved in success or in failure. Yoga is evenness of mind — a peace that is ever the same.

Bhagavad Gita 2.48

 

You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching

 

Equanimity, or Upeksha, is evenness of mind. Like the = sign, it denotes sameness. It is the ability to hold a vision of life’s ups and downs on equal footing.

Derived from "aequus," a Latin adjective meaning "level" or "equal", the word comes from the combination of "aequus" and "animus" ("soul" or "mind").

Part of the very definition of the state of yoga, equanimity is one of the most essential attitudes we cultivate in yogic life.

I experience it as a spacious inner stance where the various dramas of my life are held within a larger, over-arching and all-encompassing oneness. There is a calmness and a serenity in it. It put things in perspective.

Padmasana, Lotus poseis a posture that helps to bring about this state of equanimity for me. Perhaps it is the hip opening it requires, the sense of symmetry it creates, or the inward, self-contained quality it engenders.

Being naturally flexible, I’ve always loved this pose. Granted, you might very well have a different relationship with it, in which case this sequence might lead you to an experience of equanimity in a very different way from my own. And that’s perfect, because our approach is: 1. Receive the teaching.  2. Filter it through your own experience. 3. See what happens and most importantly, what you can learn from it.

Here’s an intermediate sequence working toward Padamasana to explore equanimity:

Supta Baddha Konasa with bolster support, blocks or belt

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Ardha Uttanasana

Uttanasana

Vrksasana

Parighasana

Trikonasana

Virabhadrasana II

Ardha Chandrasana

 

At wall:

Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana

Parsvottanasana

Parivrtta Trikonasana

Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana

Uttanasana with hips at wall

 

Supta Virasana

Supta Padangusthasana 1 and 3

Baddha Konasana with feet on block

Janu Sirsasana

Upa Vista Konasana

Agni Stambhasana

Supine Ardha Padmasana

Ardha Padmasana

Padmasana

Sarvangasana

Savasasana