by Casey Siemasko: Balance is the force that enables you to remain steady physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually…
It’s the force that enables all elements of life to be equal.
Many yoga practitioners shy away from balancing postures. But when your yoga practice impels you to balance, so much more is happening than just a cool looking pose.
As in every aspect of yoga, what occurs in the physical directly affects and reflects the internal. With every headstand and every tree pose, your body develops a heightened sense of awareness. Your mind is cleared. Your physical body is controlled and steady, even when it’s in a brand-new position.
By training your physical body to remain steady, you’re training your mind and soul to keep each element of life in equal and proper proportion. You are balanced. And it’s of far more important than you may realize.
Your physical balance is a beautiful reflection of your inner harmony. Strengthen the latter by practicing the former.
How Does Balance Work?
It shouldn’t come by surprise that your body is a complex system of interconnected parts, each of which plays a vital role in the sustainment of life. Even if this comes as common to knowledge to you, you may be shocked to realize that the most essential element of balance comes from an obscure system of organs in your ear, known as the Vestibular System, or the Balancing Organs.
These organs are responsible for sensing the movement of your head and relaying the information on to your brain. These balancing organs work together with the help of your eyes and joints to put together the full picture of what’s going on externally, sending information to your brain so it can make changes accordingly.
Have you ever noticed that it’s more difficult to balance when your eyes are closed? Now, try to get into a balancing pose while shaking your head back and forth. These movements affect your middle ear function. Now, if you’re really up for a challenge, try to balance while shaking your head and closing your eyes. You’ll instantly understand how your body does rely on all the details to function properly. Neglect a small part and it will throw off the whole system.
SOS! How Can I Improve My Balance?
It’s all a mental game. It’s true that your ears, eyes, and muscles send information to your brain telling it how to adjust your body.
But that’s just the thing — that pivotal moment between the external world and the internal world, that moment between your organs sending information and your brain receiving information, that’s the moment where YOU have the power to intervene.
After all, isn’t this one of the most essential elements of yoga? Learning to control your mind will release dynamite power into every aspect of your life.
Here are four simple tips for every beginner to get your balance improved.
1. Clear your mind
Start with the foundation and work your way up. A stressed out mind with thoughts running through a mile a minute will be the number one thing preventing you from getting into the full extent of the pose.
Start your practice by creating a relaxing environment that will enable you to focus on one thing at a time. Take a few moments in silence to turn inward and quiet your soul. Only move from this place when you feel calm, centered and engaged with the present moment.
2. Take it slow
Remember, you are the one who sets the rules. Who is rushing you to finish quickly? If you find yourself hurrying through, go back to step one and quiet that anxious voice.
When your brain freaks out because one leg is in the air, moving slowly will enable your conscious mind to tell your brain that your body is okay. Moving slowly will also give your body the time it needs to be secure in each step of the pose.
Building on a steady foundation is key here. If you’re moving into Dancer’s Pose, make sure to give yourself time to spread your toes wide, engage each muscle of the feet, ensure that your core is strong, and so on. The most difficult balancing poses will be achieved through this patient, mindful process.
3. Focus on the breath
Your prana (energy flow) is your life force. The one thing you need to survive. Let it guide each moment of the pose.
Help your mind through challenging poses by giving it something to focus on. Let your mind become ONE with your physical and spiritual, and you will be amazed at how much your balance will improve.
Remember, balance is equilibrium. Give your life force the attention it deserves to usher your body into equilibrium.
4. Engage that core!
Your core is your center.
In a similar way, the more centered you are, the easier is to balance. This is why it’s easier to balance in Mountain Pose than in Warrior 3. Strengthen your core, and make sure to engage it through the entire process. You will notice an immediate difference in your balancing abilities.
Learning to balance is a beautiful practice that will extend into every area of your life. Perfect balance won’t happen overnight, so keep practicing and enjoy the journey!