In the natural world circles are abundant: earth, sun, tree rings, your eye pupils. Almost every ancient culture uses the circle as a symbol to represent a myriad of meanings including the cycle of life, spiritual growth, completeness, and unity. In Hindu mythology, every time you take the shape of Natarajasana, dancer’s pose, you embrace the cycle of birth, life, and death. Nataraja, King Dancer, holds a drum representing the primordial sound of creation; in another hand he holds fire symbolizing death; and balancing on one leg, as he lifts the other, Nataraja dances within the fire of samsaras, or life habits that often inhibit us. In a dance of “continual loss and instantaneous regaining of balance,”Nataraja reminds us that all of nature dances in the cycles of birth and death where there is neither beginning nor end. Because of this infinite movement I see the circle as the ultimate symbol of balance.
When we live in balance we find the contentment we seek – we no longer have to look to the external world to satiate our desires. As anyone who has ever tried to stand on one leg knows, maintaining balance is hard. Our bodies, our mind, and our life churn constantly. Ideas, financial situations, relationships, and our moods are in a state of flux. Nothing ever stops moving: the wind blows, the seasons change, leaves drop, and birds migrate. There is a cyclical nature of movement but nothing is ever in the same spot twice. You may come into urdhva dhanurasana (upward facing bow or wheel pose) three times in a class yet each time is different. The pose is the same but your body, mind, mood, and experience, can be drastically different. We are always changing and in order to maintain a sense of peace we must maintain balance.
Yoga is about uniting with our divine self, our shadow self, and the person next to us; yoga is our union with all living beings. All your emotions, all your moods, all your experiences are a part of yoga; the key is to find the equilibrium within your joy, sorrow, birth, death, grief, and bliss. When we move too far into any one place, we will fall off balance and eventually come toppling down. The way to balance is to dig deep within and connect to your innermost self. At your core, your breath is the fundamental life energy which is always working to keep you aligned and stable. When you inhale, notice how your breath moves downward while your body lifts, and as you exhale, your breath moves upward while your body rests to the ground. As the circle is a symbol of completeness, with every inhale and exhale you simultaneously ground to the earth and lift to the heavens in perfect symmetry.
When I look to the sky above, listen to the geese, and notice how the trees branch out, I can’t help but meditate on my part within the rotation of the natural world. I notice how my own sense of calm or chaos echoes the natural progression of the seasons and follows the movement of light to dark from sunrise to sunset. Nataraja as the Cosmic Dancercontinuously moves through creation and dissolution forcing each of us to establish equilibrium in the ever-changing world and repetitive loop of our samsaras, or habits. As I reflect on this, I understand that when I maintain my inner balance, I effortlessly move with the rhythms of life’s on-going dance.
 Storl, Wolf-Dieter, Ph.D. Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy. Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2004. Print.