Balance

Cultivating balance on the mat is great for your physical well-being.  Our ability to maintain our body’s center is one indicator of health and longevity and prevents many common mishaps such as tripping, slipping and falling. We are stronger in carrying and reaching when we have a steady center, as well.

Practice on the mat, while vital and absorbing for its own sake, has its greatest meaning in our life off the mat: how we react when provoked, surprised or challenged, or how we maintain our focus and equanimity when our environment is challenging.

Balance on and off the mat depends on four factors:

Grounding: Where you and the ground meet. Whether it’s your foot, feet, hand or forearm on the ground, that part of you should be fully alive, muscles engaged and your weight evenly distributed. Off the mat, this translates to your deepest knowing: what are you certain, without a doubt is true, steady and can be counted upon?

Support: Distributing the load always helps. On the mat, this means that every part of your body always participates in the pose. Just because you’re in a one legged balance, doesn’t mean you no longer have to pay attention to the back of your arms or your fingers. No part of the body sleeps through a fully expressed yoga pose; the whole body draws in together to support the full expression of the pose. Off the mat, this means knowing who in your life is reliably present and including in your life to the extent possible only people who are committed to being fully alive and awake.

Centering: Pulling in to center not only reduces the load, but also uses your strongest point to its greatest advantage. Especially with the supporting limb, but for your entire body, engage the muscles 360 degrees so that the bones are supported in optimal alignment.  Off the mat, this means drawing your resources and attention as close to your focus or endeavor as possible.

Vision: Also known as “Drshti,” where you rest your eyes has a profound effect upon your ability to stabilize and remain in one place. If you stay with a point of focus in a balance pose, it is more likely you’ll remain balanced than if your gaze is traveling around the room.  Off the mat, this translates into your energy following your gaze. When you decide where you’ll give your attention, and what you’ll allow into your everyday world, you set the stage for your ability to create the life you desire.
 
Things you might want to have handy: Yoga Mat, Yoga Towel or Blanket

It is recommended to perform the warm-up before starting this routine.


Step 1: Hand and Knee Balance Pose

Duration: 10 breaths
Pose Review: Hand and Knee Balance Pose

From a tabletop position, extend one foot behind you, and the opposite arm in front. Exhale down, and inhaling switch. Repeat 5 times on each side.


Step 2: Plank

Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Plank Pose

Press your hands into the ground and extend your legs behind you, lifting up through your core.


Step 3: Side Plank
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Side Plank Pose

Rolling onto the outside of your right foot and stacking your feet, arches together, lift your left hand to your hip or to the sky, balancing on your right hand and outside right foot.


Step 4-5:
Repeat Steps 2-3 on the other side

Roll back down to Plank for 5 breaths and repeat Side Plank on the left.

        
Step 6: Awkward Chair Pose
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Awkward Chair Pose

From Mountain, sit back, center your weight over your heels, and lift your heart and hands.  Engage your core.

    
Step 7: Warrior 3
Duration: 5 breaths

Sweeping your hands down and back beside your hips, lift your left foot and reach your left heel out behind you as you reach your hands back, out to the side, or for extra challenge out in front of you, arms by ears. Straighten both legs and support your back with your belly.

    
Step 8-9:
Repeat Steps 6-7 on the other side


Come back to Awkward Chair Pose by bending both knees, lifting arms and heart while placing your left foot next to your right and settling back over your heels. Repeat on the other side.


Step 10: Eagle Pose
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Eagle Pose

From Upward Hands Pose, lift your left knee and cross it over your right, sitting back and down and hooking your left foot behind your right shin. Sweep your left arm under your right out in front of you and bend both elbows. Bring your palms together in front of you by wrapping your left wrist around your right.
 


Step 11: Warrior 3

Duration: 5 breaths

Unwind your arms as you straighten your standing leg, lifting your left knee. When you’re fully upright, begin to pivot over your standing leg, reaching your left heel out behind you until your leg, torso and arms are parallel to the ground.


Step 11-12:
Repeat Steps 10-11 on the other side

    
Step 13: Extended Side Angle Pose
Duration 3 breaths
Pose Review: Extended Side Angle Pose


Step 14: Half Moon Pose
Duration 3-5 breaths
Pose Review: Half Moon Pose

From Side Angle, look at the ground in front of you and reach your bottom hand down to the ground about 18 inches in front of your front foot. Transfer your weight over your front leg as you begin to extend it. Simultaneously lift your back heel and extend your back leg parallel to the ground. Your top hand can be at your waist, heart or reaching toward the sky.


Steps 15-16:
Repeat Steps 13-14 on the other side

 

Perform the relaxation sequence to complete this routine.


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