The Ups and Downs of Balance Postures

Tree Pose with My Kids
Tree Pose with My Team

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

Revolved High Lunge with Prayer Twist
Revolved Lunge - Parivrtta Parsvakonasana with Anjali Mudra

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!

Half Moon
Ardha Chandrasana - Half Moon (using kids and books as props...)

4 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Balance Postures”

  1. Nice post, as always. I’m constantly amazed by my *performance* in balance poses. One day tree is the easiest thing in the world. The next I’m stumbling all over the place. I should examine where my mind is on these days — is it really there, on my mat, or dealing with some problem to come?

    Also, I love the shots of you and the kids. I usually try to wait until the toddler is napping, and the 5yo is otherwise occupied. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try getting them involved in the practice. It probably won’t be as intense or as focused of a practice as I would like, but it might be a lot of fun! Thanks for the inspiration

  2. Charlotte Bradley

    Ya balance poses…love ’em and hate ’em!

    So I should admit to you that this wasn’t really a practice. More of a “photo shoot”. I like to show my guys poses and do little mini routines with them (kung fu is always involved…) and they like to look at my books and do the poses. Definitely fun and I am happy they are interested but it’s never quite the same as on my own. Confession>>> I usually try to escape behind a closed door for my own yoga practice when my kids are busy or not home. (I keep thinking I will get up early before everyone to do yoga but that hasn’t become a reality yet…)

    Let me know how it goes with your little dudes! I think when doing any kind of yoga with kids you have to just kind of be open to “whatever.” Wait, isn’t that kind of how you have to be with kids anytime 😉

  3. Charlotte Bradley

    Thanks Bob! Kids are most definitely natural yogis. My guys just spontaneously pull out poses here and there – plow on the couch, downward dog in the park, lots of interesting “inversions” wherever… Not afraid to do any movement their bodies are craving. I’m threatening to go to their school to teach their class yoga!

  4. Charlotte Bradley

    “…it’s embarassing to have your mother at school?” Exactly…although they are somewhat into the idea of showing their friends some yoga moves. We’ll see how it goes. School starts next week.

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