As we balance, we strengthen and understand ourselves better by familiarising with our centre of gravity and alignment.
Our 5 Days Yoga series begins with a very important practice of balance and focus. Balance is interconnected to grounding, as it is the connection we have from the ground, to our spine to the top of our head.
Our objective today is to clear our minds, and develop focus in our practice using some of these poses. Doing these poses will take about 15 minutes and is an introduction to the poses for beginners.
If you want a fuller practice you may extend it by inserting any other yoga poses as per your body feels and needs – perhaps beginning with some warm-up cat and cows, and ending off with a savasana resting pose.
Before and after each balancing pose, take a deep breath to clear out your lungs first.
Breathing in and out through your nose:
Inhale with 3 counts, hold for 2 counts, and exhale for 5 counts
You may want to hold each pose for 5 respiratory cycles. Do ensure that your practice is balanced - if you do a pose on one side, remember to do it on the other side as well.
This is one of the most basic balance poses of yoga. However, it requires a lot of focus to stabilise yourself.
- Begin in a standing position and keep your feet together
- Then, carefully place your weight onto one standing leg and bend the other foot
- Place your foot flat on the inner thigh or side of the shin of the balancing leg (don’t place your foot on the knee though, to protect your joints)
- Place your arms together at your heart center in front of you, or above your head.
Remember to repeat this pose on the other side with the other leg.
The Boat Pose (or Navasana) is usually practiced to tone the core muscles in the tummy region. But it is also a sitting balancing pose, requiring you to balance on the tripod of your sitting bones and tailbone. If you have issues with your tailbone, please avoid practicing this or place a yoga pad or towel below to give you some support. There should not be any sharp pain experienced in this pose. Avoid this posture if you're pregnant.
- Begin by sitting on your yoga mat with your legs placed together
- Bring your knees towards your chest, and gently straighten your knees to lift your feet such that your weight is now on your buttocks
- Ensure that your core is working hard - lift your hands to your knees, parallel to the ground (for better balance and to ensure that the abs are working for you) and straighten your back and shoulders.
If you wish to give yourself an additional challenge, go for 10 boat sit-ups by lowering your body and feet to hover just above the ground. Hold here for one breath in and out before you lift yourself back into the boat pose.
The Dancer’s Pose is a more advanced pose that creates more openness for the shoulders and legs whilst balancing on one foot. Feel free to try this pose, but as with every pose, there is no need to rush into perfecting it just yet especially if it's your time.
- Begin while standing, with your feet parallel to the ground, hip-width distance apart
- Slowly place your weight on the right grounded leg and bend the knee of the left leg as you lift your heel towards your buttocks
- Stand straight and strong
- Option 1: Without a yoga strap, reach back with your left hand and grasp the outside of your left foot.
- Option 2: With a yoga strap, loop the strap around the left foot and use your left hand to lift your foot upwards.
- Using either method, raise the sole of your foot to the sky, away from the torso and, with this action, open your chest forward.
- Ensure that your leg is not splayed outwards; keep it in line with your hip and pointing downwards by actively pointing your tailbone downwards to the ground
- For a greater challenge, stretch your right arm forward, in front of your torso, parallel to the floor
Remember to repeat for the same length of time on the other side to balance out the body!
To end the session, remember to thank yourself for the time taken on the mat, and you may wish to have a resting pose like savasana (lying on your backs for a moment to reconnect with your breath).