"Now find your balance..." is the line you definitely heard before in a yoga class.
For some, it comes naturally and they easily find stillness in balancing asanas while others might struggle through their wobble accompanied efforts. Every traditional yoga class includes a sequence of balancing asanas, so I decided to put this blog together that hopefully will help for those who silently question "but how???" every time they hear the "find your balance" cue.
First of all, understand that...
1. It's ok to wobble
Wobbling means your body is in the process of finding steadiness in this not so familiar pose. It might be not there yet, but it's working on it. All you need to do is allow this experience and be patient. No matter how long it takes, try not to let frustration get in the way, just stay focused and keep trying. And this brings me to the second point...
2. Drishti or focused gaze
Focus your mind on the present moment and focus your gaze on a non-moving point somewhere in the distance (in other words - find your drishti). It might be a still object, or maybe just space. Avoid looking at the teacher, yourself in the mirror or another student, because if they start wobbling or even fall, most likely you will follow like a domino.
3. Keep breathing
I can't stress enough how helpful steady and deep breathing is in any yoga asana practice. Balancing poses is not an exception. If you are able to breathe only through the nose, nourish your body (and mind!) with slow and deep ujjayi breaths. It will greatly help with keeping your mind calm and concentrated.
4. Work on grounding
Whether you're balancing on your feet, hands or another part of your body, creating a strong base for balance is the key. Try to feel the connection of every single square inch you have with the ground. Imagine you are rooting to the ground like a tree, with strong deep roots supporting you and keeping you stable in the pose.
5. Engage your muscles
The mind is capable of anything and if you nailed all of the above points and you're balancing like a pro now - great. However, if you still struggle, it might be you need to look into the activation of the muscles. The specific muscles that need to be involved more depend on the asana you want to practice but most of the time it's your glutes and abdominal that do most of the work. Next time you wobble, try squeezing your glutes in, then release and engage your abs, then try both together. Has any of this made any difference?
The centre of gravity varies from human to human but usually is found in the lower abdominal. Once you transfer to a balancing pose, it moves, which means you need to shift your weight accordingly to counter-balance. In some asanas it happens automatically, for instance, vrksasana (pictured) - as the right leg is lifted, the center of gravity has moved to the right from the midline which means the weight needs to be shifted to the left to balance it out. What if we take virabhadrasana III (warrior III) for example? Standing on one leg, you start lifting another giving more weight to the lateral side, you will then lower your upper body so it is in a straight line with the lifted leg using it as leverage. Or in bakasana (crow pose) you can lift your hips as much as you want but your feet won't come off the floor if you won't shift your weight over the wrists and lower your shoulders. And vice versa, you can lean forward but if you won't lift the hips enough to counter-balance the shift of gravity that the leaning forward created, you won't be able to find stillness in this balancing asana.
That's all I have for today and I really hope at least some of the advice you will find useful. If you have any thoughts, questions or requests, don't be shy - drop a comment below!