BY Jennifer Kelleher
The theme at Ocean Bliss Yoga Studio for the month of May is balance poses! Today’s article serves as an introduction to balancing, including what it takes to balance and some of the benefits that come from practicing these types of poses. Before we dive in, let’s start with some balancing pranayama (breath-work).
Take a moment to straighten your posture and come to center. Cover your left nostril and take three silent, smooth, circular breaths in and out of your right nostril. Next, cover your right nostril and take these same three breaths in and out of your left nostril. Finally, relax your hand down and take three of these same breaths in and out of both nostrils. Encourage your breaths to be round and easy (do not hold the breath in between cycles) and equal in length. How do you feel?
For an incredible breath-work experience we invite you to join Christine Walker at Ocean Bliss Yoga this Sunday, 4/30 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for her Transformational Breath Workshop. Maximum of 10 participants. Sign up at oceanblissyoga.net.
Now, back on topic!
Balance poses are an essential category of poses to incorporate into every yoga practice. Even simple balances require deep, focused attention. The moment the mind begins to wander, the body topples over. Standing on one foot obligates us to drop external thoughts and fully concentrate on the task at hand.
Staying balanced and centered requires constant efforts and adjustments.
Balancing is an act that brings our physical bodies, nervous systems, thoughts, emotions, and consciousness into equilibrium. The result of the deep and devoted alertness required for balance is a holistic sense of rooted calm in body, mind, and heart. Balance poses also strengthen muscles and improve coordination. The benefits of balancing radiate off the mat into everyday life, improving quality of life and the range of what is possible. Practicing these poses even prolongs our lifespan, as they help us to avoid falls that can lead to injury and death as we age.
To break it down, balancing calls for three essential ingredients: (1) alignment, (2) strength, and (3) attention.
Alignment makes balance physically possible. In order to balance, we must line up our body’s center of gravity with that of the Earth.
Strength gives us the capability to make, maintain, and adjust alignment. You can build up your strength by using a wall to help you hold your balance pose until fatigue, and repeating it a few times. Eventually, you start to let go of the wall. As you get better at balancing, you will become more skilled at using your bone structure to support your weight. This makes your efforts more efficient, as you start to require less muscular exertion to hold your poses. You will also tremble less, which means fewer muscular adjustments to stay in the pose.
Attention is the third ingredient for yoga balance poses. Focused attention in a pose monitors alignment and gives us the ability to make the adjustments necessary to maintain our center. As we balance, our minds and nervous systems are constantly reviewing our positions, noticing any adjustments, and making the necessary corrections to stay aligned.
We look forward to focusing on balance poses all month long in the studio!
Join us in class to improve your balance and learn more about how getting good at balancing can benefit you and your life.
Sign up at oceanblissyoga.net.