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Why Balancing Postures are good for us.

October 12, 2012

As in my last blog post I informed you that a couple of us yoga teachers in the southern suburbs meet once a week to discuss aspects of yoga or to partake in a group yoga class. This last week we decided to review a yoga article on one-legged balances written by Roger Cole, an Iyengar certified yoga teacher and research scientist. In his article he talks about balances working on three essential elements:

  • Alignment
  • Strength
  • Attention/Concentration

To ensure that we are able to balance safely we need to watch and make sure that our body with gravity is correctly aligned. We need to determine where our centre of gravity originates from and how that changes as we move our weight into a one-legged balance pose.

We need to harness the aspect of strength so that we are able to create, hold and adjust alignment on a moment to moment basis. We need to have the strength in our gluteal and hip muscles to support ourselves as we spend time on that leg. If we don’t work with strengthening that supporting leg correctly, other muscles come into play which can cause unnecessary strain on other parts of the body, like the knee and spine.

And attention keeps us in the present moment so that we are able to monitor our alignment and correct it if need be to help us to avoid falling out of the posture. We need to remember that one-legged balancing postures can’t be done by holding absolutely still; we need to restore our balance moment by moment. Not only do balance poses work on a physical level, but they also help to balance our impulses, thoughts and emotions as well.

Balances are not only beneficial to include in a class if they’ve gotten a little too lively, (especially when teaching kids yoga), and in need of some stilling down but they are great postures to practice to settle, still and focus the mind, as when we align our body’s centre of gravity with the earth’s gravitational field we place ourselves in physical equilibrium with nature. This means we often feel an overwhelming sense of calm and equanimity, unless our ego comes into play.

In his article, Roger also explains how when we lose our balance in a simple posture like vrksasana, (tree posture), it can bring about feelings of humiliation and frustration especially when we are in a class situation. When we lose our balance we feel out of control and our ego HATES to feel like it is out of control at any point in time. So if you are one of those who gets easily frustrated when you lose your balance, maybe have a look at the role your ego is playing in your life at that point in time, ask yourself, “what do I feel like I need to control right now?” and you might come across some very interesting and insightful answers.

So the next time you practice a balance, be mindful of your alignment, strength and concentration and see if you can transfer those qualities into your daily life. Remember to keep your body perfectly aligned when at work, driving or watching TV, feel that the bones are holding you up in a strong and steady manner and be mindful of the task that you are involved in.

Practising these will hopefully bring about a renewed state of balance, coordination and harmony into your daily life.

Namaste`, from a somewhat balanced yogi this week!



Nina Saacks is the founder of Yoga Awakening Africa and has been teaching integral hatha yoga, (Sivananda yoga) since 2003 in Cape Town. She loves spending time in her yoga studio with her students, up the mountain with her hiking buddies, around a dinner table with her friends, and when she can spending time in bed reading a good book with Kat and some Lindt chocolates. She believes that health equals balance in life, enjoying what you do and doing what you enjoy, and to never take yourself too seriously! |

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