Balance: a state of equilibrium

Balance is also defined as:

  • equality between the totals of the credit and debit sides of an account
  • proportion: harmonious arrangement or relation of parts or elements within a whole (as in a design); “in all perfectly beautiful objects there is found the opposition of one part to another and a reciprocal balance”- John Ruskin
  • equality of distribution
  • counterweight: a weight that balances another weight
  • poise: hold or carry in equilibrium

All these different definitions can be applied to balance poses in yoga.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or an advanced yoga practitioner to realize this importance of balance poses.

Up until recently my response to balance poses ranged from ambivalence “this is lame and easy” to “jeesum crow this is freaking hard and my feet hurt!”  Pretty typical responses.  Balance poses are meant to challenge that deepest part of ourselves, the part that provides stability and equilibrium.  This is why some days we are Masters of the Universe, balancing on our baby toe with our face to the sun, and other days we can barely walk up the stairs.

No one is perfectly balanced all the time, but these poses, even when they are at their most horrible are the perfect way to bring ourselves back to our center, welcome in the breath, and come back to balance.  Balance poses challenge us to stay rooted to the earth while reaching up and out.   Opposing forces of energy and weight counterbalance each other to keep us in place.  (You might say it’s a case where opposites attract!)

I’ve been working to incorporate more balance poses and sequences into my yoga class, something I’ve let slip by the wayside due to my own personal ambivalence with balancing. [Bad yoga teacher! Bad! Bad!]

Sequences that are getting a lot of positive response are:

Walking Balance Sequence
… from downward facing dog walk hands to the back of the mat and roll up to stand in tadasana
- bend right knee and come into dancer
- release dancer wrapping right leg over left for eagle
- unwind right leg into airplane
- step right foot halfway up mat and set up dancer on the left
- release and wind into eagle
- unwind into airplane
- step left foot to front of mat and follow with right foot to close in tadasana

You can also  lengthen the sequence by having students take smaller steps, breaking the mat into quarters and so repeating each sequence twice on each side.

Flying Crescent Lunge Sequence
- from crescent lunge, shift weight into front foot and lift into airplane
- wrap into eagle
- release back into airplane with bound eagle arms
- step back into crescent lunge keeping eagle arms
- start twist with eagle arms (helps to keep the spine long and straight)
- unwind arms into prayer and continue with twist

Half Moon Sequence
(this one usually comes later in the class after a triangle)
- from triangle come into half moon
- turn gaze and hips down into revolved half moon
- bring both hands to mat for standing leg split
- lift hands to heart center and come up into tree (HUGE abs and glute work)

What balance sequences do you like to do/teach?  What do you get out of balancing poses?

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3 responses to “Balance: a state of equilibrium

  1. Exceptionally fitting that I did a sequence of balance postures this evening, I will try the flying crescent lunge next time.

    Thanks.

  2. Balances aren’t my favorite either. Unless we’re talking arm balances!

  3. I’m still figuring out the geometry of arm balances. Waiting for that day when I will fly in crow!

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