Coming into an equanimous state both on and off the yoga mat is akin to steadying the ship (the mind) on the ever turbulent and changing ocean (of life). From a steady place we can see clearly, find our centre and navigate our course through life with more power and precision.
From Latin, the word equanimity comes from equaas meaning equal, and animus meaning mind. An equal mind is neither hyper, nor lethargic. It is neither ecstatic nor melancholic. An equal mind is a mind space that is open, receptive and attentive, yet not over-reactive to outer and inner stimuli.
In a yoga class the conditions of the studio and class room are to support you letting go of the turbulence of the outside world, but there are plenty of violent waves from within the mind and body as we practice yoga. Comparisons, judgements, sudden emotions, anger, discontentment, self criticism... all throw us off centre and cause inner turbulence.
Its not easy re-wiring your mind-set if your default is turbulent emotion and critical thinking. It will take time and patience, but it is possible. Practice placing your mind in a state of equanimity as regularly if not more so that you would aim to practice a downward facing dog in order to master this physical pose.
Try bringing in an attitude of non judgement and non attachment into your practice and your life in order to experience more equanimity. Be present to each moment, and 'in-joy' the journey, rather than the goal. Hold still in the storm. Foster the ability to hold, hear and witness discomfort and the unpleasant as well as the pleasant. Accept as well as steer. To grow equanimity in your life focus on your ability to self soothe, to nurture, and cultivate a path inwards to the calm abiding centre that lies within you.
Equanimity teaches us to respond to life and your body with compassion; to mentally and emotionally your self. To support and celebrate the reality of yourself and others... In terms of polarity, of masculine and feminine, Ida and Pingala, this is the energy of the mother, of Shakti as opposed to the austere Seer, Shiva.
To quote Karl Nieubuhr's Serenity Prayer,
'Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed, courage to change that which can be changed (tapas), and wisdom to know one from the other.'