Balancing poses are poses that are done either on our hands or on one leg or a combination of one hand and a leg. These poses require full concentration and are often associated with a deep sense of calm.
We fall over the moment we lose our (drishti) focus. But, ever try to practice a balance pose without focusing? What happens? You lose your balance and fall over, right?
Yet, the most interesting part of losing our balance is not only that it is about focus- it is also about ego. What also happens when we lose our balance in a yoga class? We look around to see who is looking- it affects our ego and we feel embarrassed.
In practicing balances poses, we not only learn the importance of focus and steadiness of mind, we also feel alignment with the earth’s gravity field and our body’s center of gravity. We become balanced with nature. To achieve this balance, we must stay in the moment and keep refreshing our balance, second after second. The continued effort to come back to center, when attained, brings our thoughts, emotions, consciousness and our body into balance.
Yet, it is losing our balance that teaches us the most as it awakens the ego. When we lose our balance, we wonder what is wrong with us, as if the worst thing ever is placing our foot down on the mat. The simple act of placing the foot down can cause infuriation, self-judgment and lack of control. Recognizing this need for control is important, because it teaches us to surrender to our mistakes- to surrender to our imperfections and reinforces our need to grow. We learn to make mistakes- to literally fall over, and, to test and re-test the ego. Falling over helps us to get back up- to reclaim our stance much like what we need to do in life. Life is full of ups and downs, which is as a result of imbalance. So, balance poses remind us to stay focused, to get up after we have fallen and to keep trying despite the challenges that come in front of us. Mostly importantly, we all fall at some point, whether we like it or not (yes, that ego again ;)
But it’s not only about calmness and perseverance; balance poses also have great physical benefits. They strengthen and sculpt our stabilizer muscles while improving coordination and balance- they inform the way we walk and stand just to all of which are necessary in our day-to-day lives. Strength in the muscles, limb coordination and balance;. They are also helpful in relieving stress, tension reduction and fatigue and teach us the principle of rooting down. These benefits might even help avoid some minor injuries and accidents in life.
On thing for sure is that the more standing balance poses we practice, the better we become at focusing, remaining calm and finding our center of gravity. Happy balancing!