Some of us have naturally better balance than others, but what ever our level is, balancing postures can help us reach deeper into our selves.
The key point on balance is that you have to be totally present when doing it. No thinking about yesterday or tomorrow, or what will I have for dinner; you need to be focused. Even relatively simple balances like Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) demand our full, wakeful attention in a way that other standing poses do not.
By its nature these poses can instil a deep sense of calm even though they require intense, unwavering alertness.
When we balance, we align our body’s centre of gravity with the earth’s gravitational field. Quite literally, we place ourselves in physical equilibrium with a fundamental force of nature. But we can’t achieve this harmony by remaining absolutely still. Instead, we must refresh our balance moment after moment. You will notice how the small bones in your feet work constantly. Your core muscles should also be engaged to keep you upright.
Equilibrium brings equanimity
Lack of equilibrium brings just the opposite. There is something uniquely frustrating about losing our balance in one-legged postures. It goes beyond the instinctive fear of falling and strikes directly at the ego. After all, we rarely tumble to the ground and hurt ourselves; we simply put our other foot down. Yet that simple act can be maddening.
This is when you have to practice compassion with yourself, look for a less challenging option and build it up from there. No two days are the same, what you were able to do yesterday might not be available to you today. Also your left and right side are not equal. Play with it! Research into it with a smile in your heart.
Power to Balance – Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
A challenging beautiful balancing poseis Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose).
As you stand in Tadasana in preparation for the pose, each hip is supported by the leg below it. The instant you lift one foot off the floor, the foundation of the hip on that side is pulled out from under it. Your strong glut muscles come into action to keep you from falling. In fact it’s the opposite-side buttock, the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus, do most of the work.
The gluteus medius connects the outer rim of the pelvis to the upper thighbone, and it’s easy to find. (The gluteus minimus lies underneath the medius, so it’s harder to palpate.) You can feel your left gluteus medius by first running your left fingertips along your pelvic rim until they’re exactly at the side of your body, then sliding them down about two inches and pressing them into the flesh.
The best way to strengthen these crucial muscles is to practice lots and lots of one-legged standing poses!
Once you feel you have found your centre, start lifting your leg. First just lift your leg forward with your knee bent. This might be enough, but if you want more, reach you’re your toe.
The next step would be to open to the side, either with your knee bent or leg extended holding onto your toe.
• Do one-legged balancing poses on a firm, level surface.
• Do them when you are fresh rather than fatigued.
• Keep your gaze gently fixed on one point.
If you still have trouble balancing:
• Use a wall for support.
• Bend both knees before lifting one leg.
• Keep the knee of your standing leg bent.
• Put extra weight on the outer edge of your standing foot.
• Hold your hands out to your sides like a tightrope walker.
As your balance improves, eliminate these techniques one by one.