A good Yoga teacher will tell you that Yoga is about Balance. Strength. flexibility. While we go all out on strength and Flexibillity, there is no thought on our balance. Maybe because Balance doesn't seem important in everyday life or even in athletic performance.
And then I came across this - Click here for the full article.
"It could be said that the world’s best athletes are always in control. It can be defined as mental control, as their recognition of specific situations within the game and how they can appropriately respond. Or as emotional control, their ability to ignore the things that don’t matter and focus on the things that do make a difference in the game’s outcome. But, certainly, the ability to control one’s physical self is a major issue for athletes. They must control their sports skills and execute them properly, despite numerous obstacles that are very physical in nature.But remember - the world's best athletes are always in control"
So Balance is
- Focus and Control
- Non-negotiable alertness
- Alignment, strength and attention.
Balance is just like strength and flexibility, if you don't use it everyday, your body stops being able to do it.
Ever felt like a child learning to stand? That's balance for us adults.
I did a 7 day Yoga Series called #balancelikeayogi on my Instagram wellthyfit_tanyaagarwal. 7 one legged standing poses!
Remember - We fall because we lose focus again and again. So we go back and practice. As you practice, it's OK to take wall or human support.
1. Eagle Pose
The only posture that opens up the 14 largest joints in the skeletal system. Excellent post - run pose, brilliant for the tired calves, and helps with stretching the arms. As we runners pound the tarmac or hard surfaces, our joints take the hardest hit in the long term. It's a super pose for runners as it brings fresh blood to the joints, releases a tight IT Band - which is one of the most common running injury.
As this pose leads to blood flow to all the joints, it basically means faster recovery post a long run.
It does look intimidating, but as you come into it step by step, you will just gradually feel a slow balance coming into your body. Click here for a step by step explanation of this pose by Yoga Journal (After much searching on the web - I am sure they are one of the best resources on Yoga)
2. The Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Many beginners don't like this pose. and Runners find it totally unrelated to their running! What both beginners and Runners forget is that you can do variations of this pose. Easy ones to begin with. The effort is worth it - Deeply stretches the hamstrings, shoulders and arms. Develops Focus!
No sweat - if you can't reach your toe– just bend at the knee and hold the outside of the knee gently.
- Strengthens the legs and ankles
- Stretches the backs of the legs
Pay attention to your base - whether you are seated or standing or balancing on your hands, how you're connected to the ground is going to affect the rest of your body. The trick is to learn to press the corners of your foot and lift your body up.
Remember - it takes sustained effort to centre and recentre!
3. The One Legged Warrior 3 Pose
This pose is all about building strength in your body and building focus. I do both Yoga and strength training - And while strength training does make me strong, there are certain poses in Yoga that build three things for me - Focus, Strength and balance! The one legged warrior 3 pose is exactly that. Runners need strengthening of the ankles - and there is nothing better than this! Strong hips and glutes that every runner needs is also what practicing this pose does!
Click here for step wise explanation of this pose from Yoga Journal.
4. The Tree Pose
"Tree Pose grows confidence." - Terri Guillemets
One of the first postures any yogi learns. It's also every Instagrammers favorite pose! It looks easy. and it is easy if you do not engage your core, keep your arms next to your ears, ground all the four sides of your foot on the floor, entend your torso up as if someone is pulling you from the top. If you do not do any of this, then yes, it is very easy. But ask anyone who has little balance how challenging it can get on the hips, balance, ankles and feet.
If you are a runner - try it post your run. Great for removing stiffness from the entire body. It teaches you about balance.
If you've had a cry week, just a few breaths in tree pose can be great to ground you. Curbs anxiety and stress. (ask a 24/7 parent)
Travel the world and leave your mark with this pose. It looks beautiful and it is beautiful and strong.
Click here for Step by step explanation of this pose by Yoga Journal
5. Dancer's pose.
Also called the Natrajanasa. (See that beautiful painting in the background too). There is grace, poise and sense of balance in it. Brings in strength in the lower body. Gives an ultimate stretch from the calves to the shoulders. Great hip flexor. However - this pose is an amazing shoulder opener which runners needs on desperate basis, given the running form and posture we have to maintain with focus on long runs! It does take a while to feel comfortable in this pose, but this needs to be progressed upon slowly. Makes me feel very beautiful, uplifted, rooted and strong.
Remember - stay lifted and light from the pelvis up through the fingers. Step by step explanation of this pose is given by Yoga Journal here.
6. The King Dancer Pose
The challenge is greater with the dancer pose. It combines a backbend along with balancing. This is a variation of the dancer pose. The one legged Asana that needs huge amount of grounding before you take the arm up to hold the toe.
The ability to centre and recentre through balance takes time, you'll fall out of the pose many times, think of wobbling and falling as part of it. The fluctuations are bound to happen. But that is exactly why this is called - Practice.
7. Warrior 3 variation
A Warrior 3 variation - Am pulling my arms back while keeping my leg strong on the ground. Slightly more challenging than the Warrior 3. And why? Because your arms are now pulling you back which makes it hard to balance that one foot on the floor. Simultaneously as the balance breaks, the focus breaks. As we work hard to keep the balance, the focus comes in automatically! More details on the step wise execution here on Yoga Journal.
"Warrior Pose battles inner weakness and wins focus. You see that there is no war within you. You're on your own side, and you are your own strength." - The Quote Garden
Every time I write about Yoga - I want to say - Yoga doesn't change the body, it changes the mind. Yoga is NOT about pretzel type poses, inversions, or splits. I'll give you an example - the Warrior Poses in Yoga - are simple to look at, however if you practice all the warrior poses in the correct form and learn to hold the asana for about 3 minutes or more, you'll see a huge positive change in your focus at work or whatever needs your best focus despite your whatsapp, facebook, instagram notifications begging your attention! The practicing of Yogic backbends leads to fiery determination. But all of this - if only you practice Yoga - not for Instagram pictures, but for hours on your mat!