So you’re serious about harmony?
Balancing is one of the hardest, but most rewarding parts of the yoga practice. Balance poses are difficult to master not only because they require strength and flexibility of the body, but also because they are dependent upon the focus and persistence of your mind. They challenge you to be relaxed, strong, and centered at the same time. If your mind decides to wander from the present moment just for a second, falling will be inevitable.
How to Get to Perfect Balance?
- The first thing to remember when practicing a new balance posture is that falling is part of the process. That’s why it is important to start with simple asanas, such as Tree Pose, and progress towards the challenging balances, such as Revolved Half Moon, step by step. Don’t let your ego get hurt by falling and always make another attempt (unless you realize that the particular pose is too advanced for you; then you should continue with less demanding asanas).
- Focus, but don’t try too hard! Don’t strain your mind; you cannot force your body to maintain the position. A relaxed state is crucial if you want to achieve and maintain the pose.
- Before you get into a balance pose, make sure that the body weight is evenly distributed and you feel grounded. For standing poses it is useful to refine your Tadasana, or Standing Mountain Pose as a base. Take few seconds to prepare in that starting position and visualize what you are about to do. If your mind does the pose before your body attempts it, the results will be much more successful.
- Pay attention to the alignment. Follow the instructions; they are meant to get you in the proper position where you will effortlessly hold the balance for a longer time.
- Don’t attempt to close your eyes if you don’t feel completely stable in the position. Our sense of balance relies on the sight, so it would be best to keep your eyes focused on a stationary point.
Why Should You Work Towards Better Balance?
Achieving strong physical balance means much more than being able to stand on your hands or on one foot. When beginners start attempting these poses, their biggest goal is to progress towards the more challenging, “more beautiful” asanas. However, working on each balance pose reveals more advantages than they could ever hope for.
- Standing balances will slowly build the strength and flexibility of your legs and upper body. In addition, your core and ankles will become stronger.
- As you progress in your practice, pay attention to the slight (but important!) changes and you will notice how your shaky body is becoming more stable by the day. Your mind experiences the same effects.
- Balance poses challenge you, but also teach you how to combine strength with a relaxed state of mind.
- Since these asanas require full focus, you will have to increase your awareness and learn how to be present in the moment. That’s what yoga is all about, isn’t it?
- Balance yoga poses will improve your posture, as well as your confidence.
- Some balance poses can be dangerous for beginners. Do not attempt any challenging pose if it’s not part of your progressive program.
- Be mindful of your ego. Yoga is not about making beautiful shapes and handstands on the beach. Focus on your current results, respect the journey and don’t be disappointed if a certain balance is impossible at the moment.
- Hand balances are contraindicated for people with shoulder or back injury.
- All inversions are contraindicated for practitioners with high blood pressure, active toothache, migraine and headache.
- Challenging balance postures should not be attempted during pregnancy, especially if the woman hasn’t practiced yoga before.
- Practitioners with carpal tunnel syndrome should not practice hand balances.
5 Balance Poses for You to Try
1. Vrksasana(Tree Pose)
When you think of yoga balances, you visualize Tree Pose. This is a great asana that strengthens the inner thighs, shoulders and chest area, while improving your sense of balance at the same time. Try to stay relaxed in the pose and hold it as long as possible. Recognize the moment when you lose focus and do your best to control the moves when you exit the pose.
If you have hip or knee injury that’s not fully recovered, you shouldn’t attempt this pose.
2. Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
This is a very fun pose, but it requires a great deal of effort to be mastered. If you want to see how focused your mind is, try holding Garudasana for at least ten slow breaths. This pose will strengthen your legs and shoulders, and improve your sense of balance. Don’t practice it if you are recovering from a serious knee or shoulder injury.
3. Natarajasana(Lord of the Dance Pose)
This beautiful, elegant pose will make you fall in love with yoga all over again. Besides being an important step towards improved balance, Natarajasana is also a great backbend that will open your chest and shoulders. The muscles on your legs and abdomen will become stronger after daily practice. This is the kind of pose that allows your body to go deeper and deeper even after years of regular practice.
4. Bakasana (Crane Pose)
This is the first hand balance yoga practitioners usually attempt. Although it is challenging and requires strength, you shouldn’t give up after the first few attempts. Bakasana will increase the strength of your wrists and arms, as well as your core muscles. If you are willing to go towards more demanding arm balances, this is a great starting point. However, you shouldn’t attempt Bakasana if you have carpel tunnel syndrome, you are experiencing wrist pain or during pregnancy.
5. Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)
In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, this pose is said to cure diseases of the stomach, glands and spleen, as well as diseases caused by excess of wind, bile and phlegm. Since Mayurasana involves significant pressure on the abdomen, it affects the digestive organs and improves their function. If you have diabetes, indigestion, constipation or hemorrhoids, this pose will be a valuable part of your program. Needless to say, it takes a lot of determination, work, and focus to get into a perfect Mayurasana.
Do not practice this asana if you are menstruating or during pregnancy.
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