During April all of my classes are based around the relationship between balance on and off the mat. From standing on one leg to the balance of the inhalation and exhalation. I want students to leave my classes feeling like they are a little more in control, embodied and grounded.
Balancing postures demand focus and concentration. If you are balancing on one leg or on your hands it’s usually pretty all consuming. If you are like me this is one of the few times in life when the chitter chatter of my brain is not multi-tasking and planning. For this reason alone, and slightly ironically, balancing postures are really settling for us. They promote a calming effect with a big dollop of staying alert. Balance is a constant dance where we find our centre of gravity and continuously rebalance. It’s a little bit like juggling all those things that pop up unexpectedly in our daily lives.
I have so many students (myself included) who feel a deep sense of frustration when they fall out of a balancing posture. The Ego kicks in and we are straight back into the thinking game. The ego doesn’t like to fall out of Tree pose during class. Despite the fact that we generally just put a hand or a foot on the floor when we ‘fall’ out, however it is still a frustrating part of practice. This is often where we start huffing and puffing at ourselves which is often complemented by the furrowing of the brow and the grumpiness of a toddler. If we can quiet the mind during balancing postures we are reinforcing a sense of equilibrium. I’ve learnt to embrace the wobble and sway, and sometimes the fall, that comes with balancing postures. They remind us that we are engaging in a ‘practice’ of Yoga not a ‘doing’ Yoga.
So apart from focusing the mind, why else do we do balancing postures?
If we learn how to balance and fall in yoga maybe we can prevent some of those serious falls and injuries that happen as we become older and our bodies more fragile. Footballer Ryan Giggs had amazing balance and played Premier League Football (with very few injuries) until the age of 40. He put this down to his by his Yoga practice! The balance that we work on in our Yoga practice is a great prevention for injury, whether you’re a sportsman or you sit behind a desk all day.
Like our everyday lives we can become overwhelmed by just how much there is to balance. Working from the ground up is a good place to start. The feet are incredibly important to standing balances. There are lots of thoughts on how we approach the foot but for me I like to think about the base of the foot as being a triangle. The heel to big toe to little toe is where I set my balance.
We often neglect our feet. It is so important to work the feet properly and have a good awareness of grounding in postures. The moment you lift one of your feet off the ground everything changes. When balancing we need to try not to compensate too much by lifting a hip leaning to one side.It’s all about distribution of weight. Feel your feet!
Make sure your drishti is in check! The drishti is the focus that we use to help us balance. Usually in balancing postures this will be two or three feet in front of us on the floor. The gaze is so important to our balance. It is an insight into where we are. There is also the element of disorientation… Where is my leg in space right now? What is left, what is right? Can we be okay with being out of balance?
Come test your balance! Hope to see you in class soon. X