Balance definition according to Cambridge Dictionary: to be in a position where you will stand without falling to either side, or to put something in this position.
In yoga, the balancing poses are probably the most difficult and hard to work on.
From plenty of balance poses, we can differentiate two main types: standing balance poses and arm balancing poses. Standing balance poses help to build strength in lower-body muscles and joints! The second type are the best way to strengthen your shoulders, arms and – what’s the most important – wrists! These small arm joints are weak by nature.
Why Developing Balance is Important.
We train our balance to:
- Avoid injury
- Increase strength and stability
- Improve overall structural integration (different parts of the body working together for the common goal)
- Improve neuromuscular connection (communication between the muscles and the brain)
- Develop mental stability
- Improve our ability to focus
- Bring about a sense of accomplishment
Beyond the physical benefits, there is much more we can gain from practicing balancing poses.
Even relatively simple balances demand our full, wakeful attention in a way that other standing poses do not. The instant we lose focus, we fall over.
We are looking for harmony. But we can’t achieve this harmony by remaining absolutely still. Instead, we must refresh our balance moment after moment. It is a sustained effort to center and recenter.
The better you get at balances, the less muscular effort you need to maintain them. This is because you become more skilled at using your bone structure to support your weight, rather than wasting muscle energy to do so. You also waver less, so you need to make fewer and smaller muscular corrections.
When balancing is practiced regularly, these teachings from the mat can be applied to your everyday life:
1. Change is the only constant thing in life.
Balancing poses will feel different each day. One day might seem really easy for you, whereas the next day you could feel unstable or fatigued. And just like practicing balancing poses on the mat, you’re different every day off the mat, too!
2. The present moment deserves your full attention.
When you’re in a balancing pose, you must be giving it your full attention.
This is true with all you do in life as well. If you’re not focused on what you’re doing, you may not reach your fullest potential. In our fast-paced, multi-faceted world, paying attention to one single thing can seem impossible at times. But balancing poses can remind you how important it is to practice and work toward being in the present moment and dedicating your full attention to it.
3. You are stronger than you think.
Building strength, coordination and knowing how to activate and isolate specific muscles in a balancing pose deepens your practice overall. But this takes time and dedication as you explore new movements and continue challenging yourself. Working through different balancing asanas helps your body and mind become sharper. This is when you begin to understand how the two are connected.