Those of us living in Florida are very familiar with pink flamingos and how they stand on one leg – steady, natural and relaxed. For us humans, balancing on one leg takes our full attention. This type of pose requires that we drop other thoughts and focus exclusively on the task in front of us. This is exactly the reason why balancing poses in yoga can offer such a sense of calm.
When we balance, we align our body’s center of gravity and we place ourselves in symmetry with nature. We are challenged to refresh our symmetry second after second and sustain the effort to keep ourselves centered. These efforts bring balance to our physical bodies, as well as our nerves, thoughts, emotions, and overall consciousness. This results in complete calm.
A lack of symmetry with nature brings about the absolute opposite. Losing our balance in a one-legged yoga posture is extraordinarily frustrating and brings up an overall feeling of loss of control. That is another reason why there are so many benefits in practicing it and being able to feel the accomplishment of holding these types of poses. In addition to promoting concentration and calm, one-legged balancing asanas help to strengthen our muscles and build our coordination and balance and help to improve the way we walk and perform other everyday physical activities. These types of benefits can help to extend our lives, by helping to prevent falls that lead to serious injuries.
The three key components to balance are alignment, strength and focus. Aligning the body is crucial in achieving balance. Strength gives the body the power to hold the balance. Focus allows us to continually monitor our alignment from moment to moment.
With the benefit of clearing your mind of clutter in mind, here are some tips to work on your balance:
- Try one-legged poses on a firm, level surface
- Attempt one-legged balance poses toward the beginning of your practice, when you are fresh versus tired, until you are used to them.
- Select a single focal point and keep your eyes focused on that focal point
Other things to try:
- Use a wall or other support
- Bend both of your knees before lifting one of your legs
- Put some weight on the outer edge of the foot you are standing on
- Hold your hands out straight to your sides to help you balance