Why is having good balance important?
Unless you are planning on lying down all day, you’re going to need your balance! Good balance prevents injury during everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs, driving and more advanced activities like playing sports.
Generally people do not focus on improving balance, but we all should! It can really help us in the long run. Beginner yoga balance poses is the perfect place to get started, it will help you improve your overall balance and of course, advance in your yoga practice.
Focused Gaze – Drishti
The fifth limb of yoga – Pratyahara‘s focus is to see beyond yourself by quieting your senses. During our yoga practice this can help us a great deal, especially with balancing poses.
Drishti is finding a point of focus and by doing this, improving your concentration. When we improve our concentration, we can easily improve our practice. Advanced yogis can do balancing poses with their eyes closed by turning their drishti inward. At first, we are going to focus on an external drishti.
Find something that is in your view and does not move.
How to Balance
– Slow and steady is the answer. Take your time!
– Be aware of the straight line between your head, neck and torso – your center.
– Always start with balancing in your feet first and then moving up.
– If you are having a lot of difficulty, rest your back against a wall.
– Balance has a lot to do with core strength and control.
– Always focus on your drishti, moving your gaze can be confusing to your mind. Choose a spot and keep your gaze there.
– A slow and steady breath will calm your mind and help you to focus.
– If you are on a mat and having difficulty here, get off. A solid floor will make it easier.
5 Balancing Asanas
These will be simple, but still challenging to your balance and will take some practice. When practicing these asanas, you should find your drishti and really concentrate while also focusing on your breathing.
1. Mountain pose (Tadasana)
This might look like a simple standing asana, but this is in fact a very active pose. This pose is a simple, yet an effective way of improving your balance and posture, as well as calming your mind.
– Slow and steady breath. Your drishti can be a point right in front of you or you can close your eyes and turn your focus to the tip of your nose or in between your eyebrows.
– Stand with your feet together, big toes touching and your arms at your sides. First take your focus to your feet, spread your weight evenly throughout your feet and feel them rooting down.
– Engage your legs and feel your thighs pulling up.
– Do not arch your back, slightly tuck your tailbone without rounding your back.
– Open your heart (broadening your collarbone) and roll your shoulders away from your ears without squeezing them together in the back.
– Straight and engaged arms.
– Feel your spine pulling in two opposite directions, down towards the ground and up towards the sky.
– Try to stay here for one minute.
If you want to slightly challenge yourself, you can go for the extended mountain pose – arms straight above your head (perpendicular to the floor) and gaze lifted towards the ceiling.
2. Rag Doll pose (Baddha Hasta Uttanasana)
Just like the mountain pose, you have both feet on the ground and it may not seem like a balancing pose. This pose is a great way of preparing your body for more advanced poses by calibrating your center. Do not mistake this pose for forward fold, it is quite different. It helps to stretch and strengthen the following areas: arms, shoulders, lower back, hamstrings and neck.
– From your mountain pose fold forward with a slight bend in your knees.
– Slightly shifting your body weight to the balls of your feet while hanging from your hips.
– With the crown of the head pointing to the floor, hold on to opposite elbows above your head.
– Relax your neck (You can shake and nod your head).
– You can sway from side to side, make rainbow shapes or slightly bounce your upper-body.
– Hold here for 5 breaths.
3. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Also a pose with both feet on the ground, but definitely more challenging than the other two. This asana tones the entire body and you will absolutely feel it in your thighs! This pose improves your posture while building strength throughout your whole body.
– We will start from mountain pose again. If you find this challenging with your toes and knees together, you can move your feet and knees apart.
– Inhale and lift your arms above your head (perpendicular to the floor).
– Exhale while bending your knees, you are aiming to have your thighs parallel to the floor.
– Slightly tuck your tailbone, look down and make sure you can see your toes. Do not overextend your knees.
– You are sitting back as if sitting into a chair. Shift your weight to your heels.
– Tilt your head back and find your drishti in between your hands.
– Try to stay here for one minute, slow and steady breath!
4. Tree pose (Vrksasana)
This pose is great for stretching the thighs and hips and helps build strength in your ankles and calves.
– Steady your breath to steady your mind.
– From mountain pose, shift all the weight into one foot and feel yourself rooting down through that one foot while slightly lifting the other foot of the ground. Stay tall with a long spine.
– Bend the knee of the foot that is lifted and clasp that ankle in front with one hand. Bring the sole of the foot to the inner thigh/ inner calf or inner ankle of your standing leg. Make sure that it is not resting on the knee!
– You can place your hands on your hips or in prayer pose in front of your heart (a great way of bringing your focus to your inner balance).
– For a challenge (only if you feel very balanced and grounded) you can extend your arms to the sky and turn your gaze up. Growing taller – like a tree.
– Try to hold for one minute and focus on your drishti.
– Go back to mountain pose and repeat on the other side.
5. Eagle pose (Garudasana)
This pose is similar to the chair pose, but more challenging as you are balancing on one foot. This asana stretches the shoulders and upper back. It helps to strengthen the hips, thighs, calves and ankles.
– Breathing slowly and steadily, focusing on your drishty right in front of you.
– Inhale and reach your arms up and open to the side – parallel to the floor, open up your chest.
– Exhale and cross your arms in front, take your right arm under. Wrap your elbows and at the wrists. If this is too hard, just hold on to opposite shoulders.
– Pull your forearms down and hands away from your face.
– Sit back into your chair pose, slowly lift your right foot and root down through your left foot.
– Now lifting your right leg up high (bending that knee) and squeezing it in towards your chest, cross it over the left leg and wrap it at the back. If you find this wrap too difficult, rest your right toes on the floor after crossing the legs.
– Hold for at least 5 long breaths, release and go to the opposite side.
Off the mat
You will often hear people talk about taking yoga off the mat. What this means is applying the principles you learn through yoga to your everyday life. Finding balance, concentration and focus in your mind will drastically improve your life. It can help you deal with some common issues such as a short-temper, difficulty in decision-making, time management issues and communication problems.
Finding balance in all we do!
I hope that you found this useful and beneficial. If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.