Now one key factor in yoga is balance. Does this mean you cannot do yoga if you are bad in balance? Oh no, I can’t balance to save my life!! It just means you need to work a little harder and be a little more conscious. However, there are poses where you do not really need to balance and it also means you will improve in achieving balance techniques. Here I am gonna try and dig a little deeper into the concept of balance that yoga seems to rotate around and also share some tricks I use to improve in those balancing postures that are so hard to master (not that I have mastered them but I am getting better, so that’s a good step forward, right?). Balance also means balancing opposing forces, so at times it’s another word for stretching. Lifting and grounding is another technique in yoga, finding places in your body where you can lift and lengthen while grounding and tugging down in other areas of your body, creating a more unconventional stretch. So, let’s see what we can find about this subject and what can we learn.
Yoga – It’s in the word!
So let’s start with the actual meaning of the word ‘yoga’. Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’ which translates to the verb ‘to unite’ or ‘to join’. So what is yoga uniting? In the more generic term, it is uniting you, the individual, to the universe, nature, and all that is greater. It is a joining of spirits, symbolizing a multitude of individuals, including the supreme, creating a whole. So how does this helps you in your practice? Try to imagine yourself in a sea of energy, now that you are surrounded, it is harder to fall, right? I will explain this further in the section below when I will be sharing my ‘secrets’ for better balance so, for now, bare with me or scroll further down, I will find some more professional people’s words and yoga explanation before I dive into my personal newbie experience.
The word yoga can also be derived from the broader term ‘Yuj samādhau’, in this context it means ‘to concentrate’, considering the amount of meditation and consciousness that yoga involves, this term is just as applicable and as important to your everyday practice. After all, yoga can be done while sitting in your work chair, aligning your Chakras, and taking a couple of conscious breaths. It’s not the ideal practice, however, if you are really short of time, it will still help!
So now that we know that yoga is all about unity, let’s dive a step deeper and look a little more at what is being united. You might have heard of yin and yang, if not, they represent all the opposing forces in the universe. They represent life and death, male and female, night and day, dark and light, summer and winter, the list is rather endless. These extremes give the possibility for all that is in between to exist and together they create balance. And that is our keyword! In yoga, we’re trying to find our balance, whether it is emotional or physical, it is all in there. The emotional balance comes rather naturally as you’re deep breathing and concentrating on your workout, letting the stress of the day go since yoga is a slow-paced workout. It naturally gives a feel-good boost, gives a couple of laughter as you may stumble around in the beginning but later on will give you satisfaction as impossible poses will become rather easy to do.
Two main forces that we are continuously trying to balance in our practice are ease and effort. We do the effort to achieve difficult postures, to stay a moment longer, or to widen our stance or stretch, getting a little longer, all while finding an amount of ease, a grace to our movements, and a feel-good and fun attitude! One important thing to keep in mind during yoga is ‘if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong‘, breathe, move, adjust your body and find that ease again. We want to get healthy not injure ourselves, right?! At the beginning of the practice, generally, people tend to try to master the poses and shapes, as you dive deeper into the practice you will realize it’s more about the breath and the concentration, and funnily enough, it makes the posses easier too!
The tricks up my sleeves
Now I have been doing yoga for a year and never really learned it professionally so I am definitely not an instructor or a yoga authority, however, over a year I have found and learned some tricks that help me balance better. I will start with what I took from the channel I follow most often, integrate that balance idea with places in your body you can lengthen and places you can ground. But how does that work? So remember those forces we mentioned earlier? Try to imagine them lifting you up or stretching you wider. So places that are facing away from the ground (like the top of your head if you are standing) are being lifted up (so your spine is getting a nice and comfortable stretch), while places that are pointing towards the ground are places you will want to ground (like the end of the spine in this standing example we’re taking). Areas that are horizontal are the areas that are being stretched and not lifted, however, you still want to think about these peripherals and think of the forces as air under a bird’s wings. Reaching out and imagining you are holding onto something also helps me out in my practice (like that long pole the rope walkers used to balance in a circus).
Most often we tend to think that balancing means concentrating on the area touching the ground (at least that is what it meant to me) more often than not, that is the least part of your body you need to worry about. Getting the right energy flowing through the rest of your body will make the weight lighter and more stable and so your job will become ten times easier. Of course, building the muscle strength to hold your body helps, that’s why it’s a practice, cos it needs time to evolve, however, it is more about the position than the strength in most of the poses (more often than not I find myself balancing on my feet, they already have the strength to lift me since I walk!). To give a more practical example I will use two stances that I have improved a lot in. The first one is standing split, I still do not find this easy, however, pushing through the lifted leg makes the pose way more stable. Keeping both legs alive and pushing out as if trying to push away a wall with the standing leg gives the pose a whole new feel and gives me a fighting chance at removing my hands from the ground, so progress there. The other example I am going to mention is the lunges poses, like warrior 1. Here you need to focus on your thighs, keeping them actively pushing inwards and up (kind of like getting your behind firm), keep your spine active and straight and focus on your arms to find your balance. Keeping your arms active and focusing on whatever pose and movement you are making rather than on your feet usually helps me to keep my balance pretty well (of course at times I am tired and wobble or fall out, I am still a newbie, but this pose really improved a lot with those little adjustments and I can keep it and transition from one pose to another rather easily… especially compared to where I started out!)
We really do hope this will be helpful for your practice or maybe encourage you to start out a new journey and try some yoga for the first time. It is a really wholesome exercise for the body and mind, helps reduce pain, increases flexibility, and gives you a sense of peace and tranquility. I really cannot recommend it enough! (And no, this is not because of a sponsored link. I do not have an affiliate yoga link, at least not while I am writing this, the future is a mystery!) Let us know if you want us to dive into any particular pose or topic and we will see what we can dig up. Also, you may want to give a look at our other articles, if this was down your alley, Breathe (it is about breathing techniques) and Posture (it is about everyday postures). They are the building blocks for everything you do in life, not just exercise so they might be useful to read. Or maybe our article about Chakras, which is more about the energies and the very root of yoga and its benefits. As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!