One thing might resonate with you about balance is to follow these steps: clear your mind, find a focal point in the room and breathe.
Clearing the mind is always the hardest part. Standing still without the accompaniment of wandering thoughts can feel like an impossible feat.
However, when the mind takes off on a train to a destination of distractions, you lose the connection to the body. When you lose that connection, you are more likely to ignore the simple adjustments, movements, or shifts that your body is subtly making to throw you off balance, causing you to fall out of the pose.
This principle applies in our lives as well. When our minds are too cluttered to pay attention to the intricacies of the present moment, we lose our ability to stay tuned in-- to notice what is throwing us off balance and disrupting our equilibrium.
Too much of anything isn't good for the soul (work, play, exercise, TV time, food, the list goes on). Life is a balancing act. When it tips too far in one direction, we need to be aware and bring it back by readjusting, inserting, or removing whatever threw us off in the first place.
However, it is difficult to know and understand what adjustments need to be made if we aren't paying attention, if our awareness and our senses are overwhelmed with yesterday's events or tomorrow's to do lists.
So on our mat we practice balance.
Here are three balance poses to integrate into your practice as you work on clearing your mind, focusing on your dristi (gaze) and breathing.
1. Tree Pose
From a comfortable and grounded standing position, rotate the right foot to the side and rest the heel of the foot on your left ankle. You can stay here to begin the practice of balance. If you would like more of a challenge, bring the sole of your right foot to your left calf. Finally, if you want the most challenging variation of the pose, you can bring the right sole of the foot to the left thigh, ensuring it is resting above the knee cap. Once you find the spot most comfortable to you, you have the option of bringing your hands into prayer, reaching them above your head, or out to the side in a 'T.' You can then repeat on the other side.
2. Balancing Table
Coming to all fours on your mat, move into a table top position—ensuring your shoulders are directly above your wrists and hips are directly above your knees. Once you find this comfortable, begin my lifting your back right leg up behind you, forming a straight line from torso to right foot. Flex the right foot and feel free to remain here. If you want more of a challenge, engage your core and lift your left arm up in front of you to challenge your balance further. This often seems less challenging than it is, and it requires many muscle groups to balance effectively. Once you have finished on one side, repeat on the other side.
3. Warrior III
Warrior III is a more advanced balancing pose (for a les advanced version, follow the steps with a chair in front of you for support to assist with balance), but might be the one your body needs to truly put your balance to the test. You can access this pose most comfortably from a warrior I pose. From warrior I, rotate your back foot toward the front of the mat and walk it in a little closer to your front leg. From here, hinge at the hips, allowing the back foot to gently lift off of the mat as you find your balance. Ideally, you want your hips squared off and facing forward and your body in a straight line from your torso to your lifted back toes. Again, you can use whatever arm variation feels most comfortable to you. Then, you can repeat on the other side.
As you grow in your practice, think about balancing poses. Think about how difficult it is for you to clear your mind and just be present. How might practicing balancing poses be helpful on and off the mat? Give thought to the areas of your life that need more balance and how this practice can serve you in clearing your mind enough to notice.