5 Tips for Yoga Balance Poses
Do you love balancing yoga postures? Or do they occasionally get the best of you when you find yourself wobbling all over your yoga mat and hear that mean inner critic take over, which certainly doesn’t help. Balancing yoga poses aren’t just challenging for the body, they can be even more challenging for the mind.
There are 5 keys to balancing yoga poses, which will help ground and stabilize you during your practice. We’ll use tree pose for this example.
Focus on your roots. In this example, the standing foot is connected to the earth. Actively press down through all four corners of your standing foot, and feel the energy rise from your foot through the crown of your head as you hug muscle to bone, lifting your kneecaps to engage the quads, actively pressing your foot into your leg (inner thigh or calve, not knee), leg into foot, and pulling navel to spine to engage the core.
Find a steady breath. Calm breath = calm mind. Try to keep your breath even, maybe even count your inhale to 4, 5, or 6, and match the length of your exhale to that same count of 4, 5, or 6. The calmer the breath, the calmer the mind. Slowing down your breath and evening it out, can do wonders to calm your mind and body, both on and off the mat.
Steadiness of the gaze. Find a drishti or focal point to help keep your mind from wondering. In this pose, bring your chin parallel to the earth - the position and movement of the head because an important part of our equilibrium system is located in the inner ear. Look out at the horizon or a fixed point to direct energy forward to keep you upright. The more focused you are, the easier it is to stay balanced.
Visualization. In this example, imagine you are a tree with roots strongly grounded into the earth and your head extending up towards the sun. Visualize what tree pose, in this case means to you and invite this mental picture to guide you toward stability as you practice balancing poses.
Play. Invite a playful element to balancing postures and don’t be afraid to fall out of the posture!. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and forget that each time we show up to our mat is a practice. When you fall out, take a deep breath, quiet that inner dialogue (especially if that self-talk is not so nice), and simply begin again.
What I love so much about yoga is that the practice teaches us valuable lessons both on and off the mat. Balancing poses will teach you how to get grounded, find your center, stay focused, and steady your mind. Plus, the process of falling and getting back up and trying again helps develop patience and persistence, humility, and good humor - because that is life.
You fall out, shake it off, recenter your focus + breath, and try again. After all, it’s a practice, not perfection.