Balancing asanas are an important category of yoga poses. Working on your balance helps maintain a stable posture, for grounding and is particularly helpful as one ages. Standing on one leg or even arm balances and inversions demand immense focus, concentration and strength. Keeping the core engaged as well as targeted regions takes work and practice. With a strong sense of balance comes better body awareness, confidence and self-esteem, as well as prevents injuries and falls.
When you start practicing balancing asanas, one must start with beginner-friendly poses and slowly work your way towards postures such as the Crane Pose, Scorpion Pose, Handstand, and other challenging, advanced asanas. With the beginner-friendly poses you can gain the necessary strength and control required to hold advanced poses. Moreover, foundational poses will allow you to understand alignment, muscle engagement and focus. Start by establishing a strong foundation and work your ways towards improved balance. You might find it challenging initially as you need to have a sense of balance to hold balancing postures, but you also need to practice balancing postures to improve your sense of balance. They’re interconnected, but with practice, you’ll find it getting easier.
Yoga asanas for improve balance
Starting with a simple posture which is not a balancing one, Tadasana is a standing posture that encourages grounding. Tadasana helps you find your balance, equally distributing weight between both feet. Your spine should remain elongated and legs engaged. By doing this pose, your posture will also improve. In this asana, you can also keep your eyes closed to strengthen your balance.
How to do Mountain pose
- Stand with your feet slightly apart on the mat. Ensure your weight is equally distributed between the feet.
- Inhale, raise your arms above your head, interlock your fingers. The palms should be facing upwards.
- Now slowly raise your shoulders up towards your ears. Exhale, roll the shoulders back and down your spine, opening your chest and straightening your posture.
- Hold still, maintaining a steady gaze and staying relaxed.
- After a few breaths, slowly come back to the normal position and relax.
A beginner-friendly balancing asana, the tree pose is practiced by shifting all your weight to one foot and placing the other foot on the inside of the standing leg’s thigh. Stay aware of every part of your body. Keep the leg muscles engaged and the hips and pelvis levelled in one line. The spine should remain straight, as should the head and neck. The asana will improve focus and concentration, as well as strengthen the legs and arms.
How to do Tree pose
- Stand in the Mountain Pose, Tadasana. Stabilize your posture with both your feet rooted into the floor and weight evenly distributed.
- Now shift your weight onto your right foot. Slowly lift your left foot off the floor.
- Ensure the right leg is straight but don't lock the knee.
- Bend the left knee and place the sole of your left foot at the top of your right inner thigh.
- Engage the foot and thigh by pressing the left foot into your thigh and your thigh back into your foot with equal pressure. This will help you keep both hips towards the front and avoid the right hip from jutting out.
- Bring the hands into Namaste Mudra in front of your chest. If you are comfortable, you can raise the hands up above the head in Namaste.
- Gaze directly at a point in front of you to maintain balance.
- Stay in the posture for a few deep breaths. Then slowly lower your left foot to the floor. Repeat this with the other leg.
A slightly more challenging posture, the eagle pose also strengthens the legs and arms greatly. It improves focus and concentration, determination and resilience. Keep your awareness on the legs, back and arms, while gazing straight ahead. It is better to keep your eyes open here so you can balance better.
How to do Eagle pose
- Stand in the middle of the yoga mat. Bend the knees slightly.
- Cross your right thigh over the left and while you do that, start to squeeze your inner thighs completely, and wrap your leg completely around
- Separate your big toe and second to hook on the other heel
- Once you are stable, make sure you are not crossing your knee forward
- Extend hands to the front then a right hand over your left
- Once you are there bend your elbows to wrap your forearms to make a Namaste
- Inhale and exhale, now sync your hip a little low, elbow coming close to your knee, look forward
- Stay there for a few breaths and then release your hands first followed by leg
Known as Lord Shiva’s favorite pose, the Dancer’s pose requires a fair amount of balance and coordination as well as straight. The asana works greatly on the muscles of the legs, back and core. The right alignment requires you to keep your hips squared, facing forward and ensuring both hips are at the same level. With the right alignment, strength and muscle engagement, balance will improve greatly.
How to do the Dancer’s pose
- Take one step forward with your right leg, and shift the body weight forward on that leg. Inhale and as you exhale, lift the left foot off the ground, bending the knee, and holding the left ankle from the inside or the outside.
- Again, iInhale, and as you exhale, take the upper body forward, simultaneously raising the left knee higher, pushing the foot into the hand.
- After reaching a stable position, inhale and extend the right hand forward, joining the index finger and thumb in gyan mudra. Looking toward the right fingertips.
- As you exhale, bring the left knee down, release the ankle from the hand
- Release the right hand down, straighten the body and come into samasthiti.
- Repeat the asana with the other leg.
As you progress, the balancing asanas get more challenging. Virabhadrasana 3 requires you to engage the muscles on the standing leg, the raised leg, the back, shoulders, hips, buttocks and legs. For the right alignment, you need to lengthen the entire body, from the fingertips to the soles of the feet. In this asana, too, you need to ensure your hips are in one line. The asana improves balance, strength and focus greatly.
How to do Warrior 3:
- Stand at the front of your mat with feet hips-width apart.
- Inhale, extend your arms to the ceiling and shift your weight to your right leg.
- Exhale and start bending forward from the upper body.
- Raise the left leg and straighten it out behind you.
- Engage the core and the legs to maintain your balance. Keep the left foot flexed.
- Ensure the hips stay in one line.
- Gaze directly in front of you.
- To release, return slowly to a standing position and then repeat on the other side
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
A challenging standing balance posture, this one is a powerful pose to improve balance. The asana requires unwavering attention, focus and determination. Grounding the standing leg firmly is important to balance. The posture also improves flexibility and mobility of the hips. The range of motion in the hamstrings and adductors gets better.
How to do Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose:
- Start in Tadasana. Exhale and shift your weight to the left foot.
- Raise the right knee. Grab your right big toe with your right hand.
- Lengthen your spine and keep your left hip firm. Ensure the shoulders are pushed back and chest is open.
- Inhale and extend the right leg out in front without changing the position of the spine.
- Gaze at a point directly in front of you.
- Stay here for a few deep breaths.
- If possible, bring your right leg out to the right and stay for a few breaths.
- To release, inhale and bring your leg to the center. Exhale and lower the leg to the floor.
- Repeat this with the other leg.
Headstand, an inverted balancing posture, you can start by practicing with wall support or by simply learning to raise the legs above the head and coming back down without holding. The headstand is known as the kind of asanas due its numerous benefits. From improving focus and concentration, to enhancing balance and coordination, learning to keep the legs, core, shoulders and arms engaged, the posture works wonders for the body and mind. It’s effective in removing toxins, improving blood circulation and in balancing the hormones.
How to do Headstand:
- Come onto your hands and knees. Bring the forearms to the floor. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders.
- Now clasp the hands together on the floor. Interlace the fingers. Your hands should form a V-shape. Place the crown of your head on the floor. The top of your head should be down on the mat. Rest the back of your head at the base of your thumbs.
- Lift the hips up and straighten your legs the way you would in Downward-facing Dog Pose.
- Now walk the feet forward, towards your head, until the hips are as close to over the shoulders as possible.
- Keeping both legs straight, lift the right leg straight up toward the ceiling. If you are practicing with the support of a chair or the wall, you can lightly touch the right leg to the chair/ wall.
- The right leg should be in line with the torso. Now, once you are steady, inhale, engage the core and lift the left leg up bringing it next to the right leg.
- Find your balance, keep the core engaged and tummy tucked in. Breath deeply and focus directly at a point in your line of sight. Once stable, you can slowly move the legs away from the chair/ wall.
- Hold the pose as long as comfortable or for up to a minute.
- To come down, in a slow and controlled way, first bring the right one leg down and then the next. Rest in Child’s Pose for a few deep breaths.
Some of these poses, such as warrior 3, extended hand to big toe pose and headstand are challenging and need to be practiced under the guidance of a teacher in a live online yoga class to ensure safety and low risk of injuries. Give yourself time to learn each pose, practice with control and awareness and gradually you will notice your ability to balance in the posture and otherwise, too, in everyday life improves greatly.