I still remember my first time in a yoga class, falling out of tree pose about 10 times whilst everyone else made it look so easy. I kept thinking there was something wrong with me. There was…
I didn’t mean to get spiritual this early on in the post but there was something wrong with me. I was comparing myself, I was looking around the room, I wasn’t focused 100 percent on what I was doing. (Don’t worry I am going to give you tips to actually help your physical balance). I tried and tried again but it just didn’t seem like I was improving. I got used to putting my yoga mat next to a wall.
This was now my 5th yoga class. And my thoughts were still (why am I not getting this). I went to a different yoga class after that. Don’t get me wrong I still love that first teacher but I wanted something different.
I ended up in a hatha class where the teacher explained all the poses in detail. She taught me things I didn’t previously know. How to ground down through my feet to create more balance, how to keep a steady gaze on something, how to place my body in the right positions (read on for these tips in more detail below). I got my best balance in that class. I came out feeling that happy blissful state that yoga can give you.
It wasn’t just the yoga tips that she was giving though, all throughout the class she was dropping little hints about life. I honestly can’t even remember what they were now apart from one ‘what is going to happen if you fall? Its not the ned of the world, try again’ it shifted my mindset. I knew this but yet someone saying it so directly like that just made something shift.
Can you relate to any of my story so far? Have you had a realization that something might be holding you back?
Ok, story time over, time for some tips to help you balance.
1. Ground down through the four corners of your feet, the sides of the heel and the sides of the balls of your feet. Make your feet take up space. You want a wide and stable foundation for your poses.
2. Spread your toes, make a bigger foundation for your feet to balance on and dig them toes into the ground. Have you noticed how when you stand on one foot you can see your toes moving a lot. They are working to balance you. Dig them in.
3. Find something in front of you that is not moving and use that to focus your gaze. Looking at something that moves will throw your balance off. Find something still and focus your ‘dristi’ aka gaze point to that spot.
4. Find the right position for your body. If practicing tree for example put your lifted foot where it feels comfortable. If up on your thigh feels too high lower it (always keep your foot away from your knee in tree). This one also falls under alignment. Listen to the teachers cues. Again, using the tree pose example you should be trying to open up the hips, this help stabilise/stack the pelvis more which in return helps with the balance. There are plenty of yoga videos out there to help with correct pose alignment but if you do want feed back, feel free to post in our free Facebook group (link below). We have such a great group of yoga teachers and students.
5. Place your hands where it feels good for your body. I’m going to keep using the tree pose example. Lifting them up to a star shape can help with your balance it gives you a wider shape. Placing them in a fancy mudra up above your head can be distracting and can throw off your balance. Of course, feel free to do this if that’s what your body wants.
6. What is your body feeling? Notice where you feel tight, what feels uncomfortable because if these feelings are extreme then that is also going to throw off your balance. Be comfortable where you are. You can push your body to improve of course but never to the point of pain.
7. We may also need physical strength and flexibility for some of these poses. So it’s a great idea to work on a well rounded yoga class. Over time your body will get more flexible and stronger but like with most things it will take time and consistency.
8. Listen to your thoughts. When your in these poses, what is your mind telling you? Are you going over your to do list? Are you wondering how everyone else is staying so steady. See if you can bring your attention back to you and your body. A great way to do this is to focus your attention on your breath. The inhale and exhale. Like in my story above. My mind was all over the place. I was definitely not focused on what I was doing and it was unbalancing me.
Now these steps will definitely help get you on the right path to physically balancing your body but I do want to remind you that mindset plays a very big role as we know from step 8.
If something major is happening in your life, If your health is low, If stress is high right now this effects the body in more ways than one. It can create an imbalance in your energy and i’m going to explain this with a visual.
When you feel happy and calm, you tend to feel lighter, like you can float. When you have stress your body can feel very heavy and things can be a challenge. Imagine getting into tree pose with both of these feelings. When you are light things aren’t bothering you they swoosh past as you float in the air. (like a feather, when you try and catch it and it moves out the way f your hand, untouched by your intrusion). Now when things are bothering you not only do you feel heavy but your nervous system is on edge, your blood is pumping around your body faster, your muscles are tenser and your breath is unstable. All these things are going to throw you off balance.
The good news is that now we know the tips above we can work on them and when we are focusing on our alignment, are breathing, are instructions then we are completely focused in on ourselves and our bodies so we don’t let them intrusive thoughts in which helps keep us balanced! Releasing our mind from these intrusive thoughts is one of the best parts about yoga. It helps with your mental health so much.
That is how we create better balance in the body. This is a lifelong practice mind. Don’t think that doing this once means that you can now balance at the top of a pole somewhere whenever you feel like it. Like life we all have ups and downs but if we can bring our attention back to our body, breath and mind then we are living life right!
If you enjoyed this blog post and would like to work on your balance further. Take a look at our yoga membership where you receive 2 weekly zoom calls, the replays of all previous classes and a private group to check alignment and get feedback.