Throughout a fluid and vigorous vinyasa flow class, it’s wonderful to slow everything down, change the pace, and focus on balancing. Balance is a key component to yoga, and to our lives. For some people, balancing is their greatest challenge when it comes to working on their yoga practice. For others, it’s sharpening their focus and linking stillness with breath when a balance series is proposed in class. Below I have a few balancing poses which should offer some challenge and are increasingly harder, give them a try. Don’t forget, whatever you do on one side of your body, replicate on the other.
You may want to start working on balancing near a wall, there is never anything wrong with using props or steady surfaces to assist your yoga practice. While standing firm on your right leg to start, bring the left knee directly into your chest. Begin to hug the knee into the midline of the body as you stand up tall, lifting upward from the bottom of your heart. Once you have the knee firmly into your chest while looking straight forward, walk the gaze up the room so you are looking directly above you. Hold this pose for 10-15 breaths and remember to switch legs. Note, you may find tight hips preventing you from hugging your knee all the way into your chest. Hold your knee where comfortable in front of your chest and just keep working with this pose.
On to the next level of balancing. Standing firm on your left leg, use your hand to position your right foot above OR below the knee. Important, do not push any pressure into the side of your knee. While standing in tree pose, your foot is equally pressing into your thigh (as pictured) while your thigh is pressing into the foot. Initially your hands come to heart center and you look forward. To challenge your balance in standing tree, raise your arms above your head, or “grow your tree” while you walk your gaze up the room and look directly above you. Hold this pose on each leg for 10-15 breaths.
From tree pose lift the foot that was pressed against the thigh and rotate the foot internally so the pinky side blade of the foot fits perfectly into the right hip crease. Standing tall with the right leg, your hands are either holding the left foot in lotus position, or your hands move away to heart center. You can raise your arms above your head and walk your gaze up the room before you add on to the pose. To challenge yourself in standing half lotus; with your left foot in the right hip crease, reach your left arm around your back and reach for the toes/foot. With your hand secured around the foot, lift the right arm up and look directly above you. Holding both variations of this pose on each leg for 15-20 breaths.
Standing tall and firm on the right leg, lift the left leg up parallel to the ground and wrap your middle and pointer finger around the big toe, and lock that connection with your thumb. You can have a bend in the knee while holding the leg, but work on pushing out through the ball of the foot and lengthening while strengthening the left leg. This might be your pose, if so stay here balancing for 10-15 breaths and switch legs. If you’d like a challenge, after 5 breaths begin to upon up the leg to the left and lift the foot up to the ceiling while shifting your gaze to the right and raising your right arm above your head (a lot of things going on here… Don’t get frustrated if you wobble). Hold this variation of the pose for 10-15 additional breaths and change legs. You might find one leg is “easier to balance on” vs the other, work to even out your balance.
Just like any other poses in yoga, and in life, don’t forget to breathe. Work on steady breaths and don’t be afraid to fall, because you can get right back up and try again.
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Keep up the Yoga Swag,