I went to a gentle yoga class on Saturday morning. When it came time to practice Vrksasana (Tree Pose), my teacher said something that I think really sums up the essence of balancing postures. “Balancing poses are not about falling. They’re about learning to get back up with grace.” They embrace the qualities of harmony, balance, confidence and power.
Harmony and Balance
It’s not likely that our yoga pose will look or feel the same one day to the next. Some days all the parts of my body seem to be working together and I feel like I could stay in Tree Pose for five minutes. Other days it’s more like a few seconds of wobbliness and a mind that just won’t stop… I just can’t seem to find my center. This is where the next two qualities of confidence and power come into play.
Confidence and Power
There is no need to feel embarrassed when you fall out of the pose. My natural inclination is to laugh at myself which I think is a great reaction as long as it’s not accompanied by negative self talk. Simply take a breath and find your pose again. That is true power.
“You must hold the balance by the intelligence of the body – by instinct or the sense of equilibrium – and not by strength. When you keep the balance by strength, it is a physical action; when you keep it by the intelligence of the body, it is relaxation in action.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
Benefits to Practicing Balance Postures
- Better Balance: Our ability to balance decreases with age but with practice we can maintain and better it which may help prevent falls.
- Improved posture and influence on how we stand and walk in the world.
- Increased awareness of our alignment in other yoga postures.
- Toned muscles.
- Toned mind – work focus and concentration.
First of all, be sure to give the pose your full attention. Find an (unmoving..!) point of focus where you can fix your eyes with a gentle gaze. In yoga this is called “Drishti”. It is almost as if you are looking past the point rather than directly at it. This will help you to maintain concentration which helps you keep your balance.
Use a wall or chair. For example, in Tree Pose you can touch the wall with one hand. Or, when practicing Half Moon pose, stand close with your back at the wall using it for support.
Smile and don’t take it too seriously!