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Dwanda - Balance, Nature & Freedom from Opposites




There's a line in the Yoga Sutras which made my whole brain stand still when I read it.


"tatah dvandva-an abhi-gatah' (Sutra 2.48)


Which means; "from that (the correct practice of yoga) arises freedom from the pairs of opposites".


The word 'dvandva', meaning 'pair' comes from the word 'dva' for 'two', 'duo' or 'dual' - in this case the 'duality' which causes our minds to endlessly bounce from one extreme to another, and our tendency as humans to fluctuate between these kinds of behaviours too. It's also a linguistic compound which describes two separate parts of a pair which have a similar meaning and rank (brother/sister, mother/father, bitter/sweet, hot/cold). Neither component has a more important or significant meaning than the other. They are equal in status, but both bring their own unique components to the table.

Freedom from the kind of thinking which assigns higher meaning or more significance to one of these pairs is what consistent practice affords us. To me this means cultivating the ability to rest in an acceptance of the dualistic nature of our thoughts and the world, without getting caught in one extreme way of thinking or another - but also without losing ourselves.


Especially in our culture today, this requires a lot of discipline & practice. It also requires compassion and acceptance of ourselves and our conditioned, busy minds.


In Ayurveda, 'Dwanda' (same-same as Dvandva, just spelled differently), describes a food, herb or compound that is in its whole and original natural form, unprocessed & unchanged from how nature intended it to be. The more foods with Dwanda that we consume, the more likely we are to remain in that state of Dwanda or 'wholeness' ourselves. Balancing between hot & cold, fast & slow, heavy & light, rough & smooth - and the other 6 Gurvadi Gunas (pairs of opposites) is what helps us to maintain balance in our diet and everyday lifestyle habits.


What I love about Ayurveda is that it recognises the significance of engaging with these pairs of opposites as a means to attaining balance between them, rather than the approach of some spiritual practices whose goal would be to simply ignore or 'transcend' these needs in pursuit of higher awareness or experiences.


It grounds us firmly in our bodies, on the earth, and asks that we engage wholeheartedly and consciously with the elements around us in order to attain and sustain balance & health.


Once this balance is attained in the physical body, the freedom from pairs of opposites and fluctuations of the mind (state of Yoga!) can follow.


If you're interested in learning more about Ayurveda, my 5-week course Nurture Your Nature - Intro to Ayurveda is running again live online from the 27th June.


Sign Up here!


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