Yoga is a science designed to change our lives; to open our potential for happiness and service. Our practice on the mat is indicative of how we walk in the world. How well you can balance on the mat is a sure sign of how well you will be able flow with the demands of a modern lifestyle.
Here are some tips to help you change your balancing poses, and as a result change your world.
How we think plays a crucial role in our balancing poses. If we think we can’t do it, or if we get easily tired out by the mental effort of a balancing pose, it will be more difficult to sustain. Confidence and the ability to concentrate are the essence of balancing poses.
When we are walking or standing or going about our day, our breath often takes a back seat. The very thing that sustains our life gets ignored or at the very least unnoticed.
There is a direct connection between how we breathe and our mental state. There is also a connection between how we breathe and our ability to go deep into a pose or sustain it. If our breathing is erratic and strained, then our pose will also be strained and erratic. This strain is easy to mask when we are on two feet, but when we begin standing on one leg it becomes quite obvious.
There will be a slight rocking during any balance pose. As you get more adept at practicing, you will feel subtler and subtler movements. These movements will eventually become more obvious to you, and you will be able to adjust to them more easily. This learning process is the same as the one you went through when learning how to walk or ride a bike, but forgot about years ago because you are so used to these activities now.
Balancing helps increase the strength of smaller stabilizer muscles, along with larger muscle groups. Your nervous system will notice the difference as you walk and move about your day. This will go a long way to increasing your sense of ease during the day.
In whatever balance pose you are doing, you don’t want to be heavy in the joints. Rather, you want to elongate your spine and reach towards the sky. If you look at people who you may consider “old”, one of their main identifying characteristics is a heaviness in the joints. They find it difficult to elongate, straighten and reach towards heaven.
People don’t get old in a day. It’s a gradual process that takes place over years. Balancing poses are our opportunity to reverse this process by staying light in our joints using deep effort. We may find ourselves sore in a new way the day after practice.
If you’re standing on one leg it’s important not to completely straighten that leg. You want some ability to be buoyant in the pose. Balancing poses are constantly shifting. If the standing leg (or arm) is completely straight, then there will be no room for the subtle adjustments that go on in a balance pose. Over time you will also strain and wear the deep tissue in the joint that is responsible for keeping it lubricated.
Your gaze is very important in yoga. If you look into someones eyes when they are emotional, you can see how erratically they move. Someone who is calm and focused tends to have soft features, slow movements, and can concentrate easily. Emulate this body language even if you don’t feel that way to begin with; “fake it ’til you make it.” Keep your gaze steady, and your body will follow.
Keep relaxed when you do a balancing pose. If you become tense it will be harder to do the pose. It’s the same difference as that between a tree that sways in the wind, and one that is stiff and breaks. Relax in a way that you use the precise effort necessary, and no more!
Balancing is necessary for everything we do. Yoga poses are the gateway to keeping our life on track.
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