We've all practiced balancing poses in most of our yoga classes and aside from physical benefits … which range from improved coordination, increased physical strength, spinal alignment and more stability — balancing poses can offer many emotional and spiritual benefits, too.
What’s amazing is when we do incorporate balance into our daily practice, the teachings from the mat can be applied into our everyday life.
There are 3 areas that I believe need to be cultivated and can grow our balance, on and off the mat. They are …. Strength and spinal alignment, focus and embracing change.
1 | Strength and spinal alignment - Building strength, coordination and knowing how to activate and isolate specific muscles in a balancing pose deepens our practice overall and promotes spinal alignment . Maintaining spinal alignment is also a key aspect for structurally establishing balance and strengthening our stabilizers. But this takes time and dedication as we explore new movements and continue challenging yourself. Combined with pranayama (breath control), the practice can take us through an inner journey and help realize how strong we truly are, physically and mentally. More importantly getting to the basics of balance, can also invite creativity and new ways of thinking into our life and having fun with different balancing poses such as Vrksasana (Tree), Virabhadrasana Tri (Warrior 3), and Urdhva EkaPada RajaKapotasana (Standing Pigeon) are just a few. Working through these different balancing asanas help our body and mind become sharper. This is when we begin to understand the mind/body connection.
Being consistent with our practice, we’ll be able to do things that never seemed possible before. And just like on the mat, continuing to challenge ourself and try new things off the mat, we will build confidence and courage to do things we never thought were possible before! We are stronger, mentally and physically, more than we think, but won’t recognize our fullest potential establishing that connection between the body and mind. Balancing poses can help us realize that all the answers are "within".
2 | Focus – “Being in the present moment” is a cue I’m sure we have all heard and when balancing it’s not only heard but truly practiced. Our concentration, “Dharana” is the key to connecting with the body. Another cue we might hear is to “ Find your drishti”, which means to soften the eyes into a focused gaze which helps establish the connection and concentration on a particular point on the body.
When we're in a balancing pose, we must give it our fullest attention so we can come into our fullest variation. Living in the moment and focusing on the effort of the pose helps us become stronger and more stable. The truth is …. Having or honing these skills on our mats allows us to enhance them off the mat. If we’re not focused on what you’re doing, we may not reach our fullest potential. In our fast-paced, multi-faceted world, paying attention to one single thing can seem impossible at times.
But balancing poses can remind us how important it is to practice and work toward being in the present moment and dedicating our full attention to it.
This can be as simple as putting our phone away when running errands, or while having a conversation with someone. As we strengthen our ability to “Find your Drishti” on the mat, think of strengthening our focus off the mat, so we can continue to transform, be empowered and grow.
3 | Change or impermanence - Depending on what pose we are practicing, how our body is feeling, where our mind is at and the environment we're in …. balancing poses will feel different each day. One day, Vrksasana (Tree Pose) might seem really easy for us, whereas the next day you could feel unstable or fatigued, and the same applies in our day to day life....Each day is different!
One of our main practices in yoga is non –attachment (Aparigraha), being able to “let go” is a main focus in all the teachings because attachment brings on distractions, which will not allow us to be able to be free and go with the flow. Each day, we are given the opportunity to learn and explore. So maybe we don’t always realize it, but we are changing and growing all the time. Try not to get attached to habits, and learn to "let go" of expectations we have for ourselves and others. Notice subtle changes in ourself — mentally and emotionally — and accept ourself for exactly who we are and where we are in our life right now.
Know that tomorrow is "fresh, clean and unused .... so use it the fullest". Embracing change and remembering that even the smallest things can make a big difference.
At LiveURYoga, we want you to grow safely in your practice and we are taking a more proactive approach to providing a structured growth opportunity for all who come. Each month in our Foundations classes we will have a focus of movement or philosophy to ensure we are growing as a community (Sangha). We will offer specific instruction on our focused subject and of course provide a flow of movement to educate you within the class.