Some of us love them, while others avoid even trying.
What am I talking about? Balancing poses - the magical ingredient of yoga practice.
Originally I wanted to write this post about tips and tricks on how to nail balancing yoga poses. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like shortcuts and guidelines on how to get from A to B? After starting a couple of times I gave up, this approach didn’t resonate with me.. Instead of that I asked teachers of Studio Balance which one of the balancing poses are their favourites and why? I knew that I am tapping into an infinite source of inspiration and knowledge!
Their ideas started flowing through me, reminding me that every time I attend a class in Studio Balance, I smile to myself when I hear the word “balance” coming out of the teacher's mouth.. Ah indeed, we are at Studio Balance, hence balancing poses are in the program! Obvious, cliche, yet, I am grateful for the reminder that going out of balance is part of getting there. I need this person to say the word balance, because I know that what will follow will be some kind of a recipe how to get there, intertwined with words of encouragement to allow yourself to fall.
After asking the question, the first thing I realised was the fact that I had no idea that balance is a foundation of so many poses. I always associated balancing poses with standing on one leg, like in a picturesque Tree Pose or good old Warrior III (that’s my favourite one!).
But when the answers started to pop up I was amazed with the amount of options yoga has to offer to stay steady!
Flying Pigeon Pose
For Chrissie it is Vasisthasana (side plank) while for John it will be Svarga Dvidasana (Paradise Bird Pose) and (Headstand) “As a kid I was always trying new things and it’s out of my comfort zone. With these poses, every step closer to get there, gives me a boost of self confidence.”
And guess what is the favourite pose of Michaela, who welcomes you on the mat every weekend morning? Of course the flying pigeon pose! (Don’t try that without her!)
Arianna shared that she like the most Natarajasane (Dancer Pose).
“Maybe because of my past as a dancer, or maybe because for me balancing has always meant, rather than finding stillness in instability, dancing and moving through instability. Like nature and the whole universe are constantly moving, and that creates balance, so the dancing shiva is representing the movement within the cosmos; he dances, creating and destroying everything that exists, in a constant pattern of balance and movement. On a physical level, that juicy backbend never fails to energises me, as well as opening the chest and shoulders, countering the effect of long sitting hours; the hip opening melts away the stress and tension I tend to store in my hips area, stretches the front of my body, especially hip flexers and quads, and I feel gracious and a dancer again 🕺”
What Susan likes the most about the Vrikshasana (aforementioned Tree Pose) is its accessibility. The pose has many variations, and gives you the opportunity to build balance one step at the time. Once you think you got there try to shift your focus, or close your eyes - the balancing journey starts again. “My favourite part is when you move in this pose and challenge yourself not to be still but sway a little bit around to smile about falling in and out of the pose.”
Amongst the most surprising answers (for me) were:
Karnapidasana (Snail Pose / ear-to-knee pose ) “It fully invites you to go inward. You are present in your body and hear/feel/experience your breathe” - says Merel.
Urdhva Padmasana (Upward Lotus Pose) and…
Savasana - that’s beautiful, I thought to myself. Because with her answer Sara captured another dimension in finding a balance. Sharing with us that “It's where the whole class comes together, where the class enters your body and your soul can fly out to space for a little.” I interpret that as the peak of feeling balanced inside-out.
What I also picked up from our teachers balancing is a process and the most you will feel it in transitions. Use your eyes and point of gaze to support yourself, remember about this microbend of standing knee, engage your core, level your hips, and… don’t forget to breathe when falling, to pick yourself up quickly and proudly go back to the pose!