By Faye Martins
Balance between the mind and body is one of the primary goals of yoga practice. In fact, many who suffer from stress and anxiety turn to yoga to relieve their mind’s trouble as well as harness the physical manifestations of stress like over eating, weight gain, panic attacks and even depression.
Power yoga’s emphasis on physically challenging poses can also help students find their balance. Because of the way power yoga highlights difficult poses, it utilizes several repetitions of balance poses that are meant to help yogis find their center. Balance poses typically require full-body static strength, which help yogis engage the internal with the external.
Flows for Balance
Many yoga instructors start their classes out with a warm up, usually selecting one of the variations of the sun salutation series. These series are designed to generate energy and create heat to keep muscles supple, but they also combine standing and balance poses. As a result, these series are a good place to start work on balance flows.
One of the biggest challenges for the balance poses is to get the foundation right. The foundation of a balance pose is the part or parts of the body that touch the ground, and if the feet, for example, are not aligned in a balancing asana, the rest of the posture will be misaligned as well, making it difficult to become centered.
In the Warrior II pose (Virabhadrasana II), for example, the heels should be in a straight line, with one foot pointing forward and the other pointing 90 degrees outward. Power yoga enthusiasts engage the arms, core and legs in a warrior pose, but the foundational elements begin with the feet. In this pose, the practitioner should bend forward until the knee is over the ankle, and in some cases the thigh is parallel to the floor. The knee should not extend past the foot, so that the shin forms a right angle to the ground. Students should distribute equal amounts of weight on both feet. Sometimes it helps students who struggle with balance to shift their weight from front to back in order to become aware of the extremes of imbalance.
Beginner yoga students may find this process difficult, since correct alignment requires that even the toes be in sync with the pose. It is in no way a simple thing to be aware of the entire body during even a simple breathing pose, much less one that requires concentration and balance. However, continued practice will slowly realize a fuller awareness of self and balance.
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