Centered & Balanced
In my Power Yoga classes this week, I have been challenging my students to test their balance. Balance comes in many forms in the yoga practice. The most obvious, perhaps, is to have the class perform balancing poses. For example, Tree Pose, where one is standing on one foot.
Another way to challenge your balance is to challenge the resources within that keep you centered. Core postures, like Boat Pose, bring awareness to your core - your center. When one is breathing with integrity, one can experience great strength, balance, and centering.
If you're feeling a little off-balance, practicing a pose like Tree or even Boat can help with gaining more strength in that area. But also think about how we live our lives. When we are faced with life challenges, especially multiple life challenges all at once, you can feel VERY off-balance, right? It may be difficult, while in the midst of these challenges, to get reconnected, re-centered, and balanced. My suggestion is to allow yourself to stumble; to be off-balance. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with falling down. When we KNOW that we can get back up, shows true strength. Once you have a moment to yourself away from the chaos, practice deep breathing, Tree Pose, and Boat Pose to remind yourself of the balance you already have within. Below is another pose you can use to help achieve a greater sense of balance and centering.
Come to your yoga mat on all fours. Feel free to pad your knees and wrists to reduce any strain. Engage your core by exhaling and drawing your navel up toward your spine. Create an abdominal lock by holding this position. Continue breathing, but maintain the lock. Your back may slightly round in this this position to ensure you have a strong connection to this lock. If you have an overly arched back, or it feels like your low back is collapsed, it's very likely that you have disengaged the abdominal lock.
Once you feel secure in this position, slowly extend your right leg back so that it is straight and parallel with the floor. Again be sure that your low back has not collapsed. If your leg lifts too high, you may experience the release of the lock and a collapsed back. Once you have secured this position, now extend your left arm forward. You are now in Spinal Balance.
In order to maintain the pose, be sure to inhale and lengthen throughout your body, particularly through the lifted limbs. On your exhale, be certain that you are still holding your abdominal lock. In addition to this sensation, be aware of your inner arm and inner leg of the extended limbs. Create a feeling as if they are pressing into an imaginary object. This will also help to hold the pose. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths then repeat it on the other side.
To make this pose more challenging and to really test your balance, try doing Spinal Balance without the knee on the floor! The first few times you may tip over. That's ok. Remember, we fall. Just remind yourself of the internal resources that you have that will help you return to a balanced and centered state of mind and body.