Repost from yogaguide.wordpress.com, February 28th, 2010... with editing
Balance in yoga pose starts with Mountain - the one that looks suspiciously like just standing there. What turns it into a yoga pose is extreme awareness: how is my weight distributed? How is my spine stacked? What's the center of my awareness and sensation?
But one legged yoga poses take balancing to a new level: how do you stay upright and non-wobbly while arranging your body weight over one leg with multiple arm positions? Just thinking about it can make you wobbly!
And that's why one legged balance poses are such a great meditation in how we stay upright (in integrity) in everyday life while integrating multiple cares, projects, concerns and loves. Like arms and legs, trunk and head, they can pull us off kilter and bring the whole thing tumbling down. Or we can integrate them in awareness with reference to our core, adjusting engagement and relaxation for dynamic resolution in every moment.
There are 4 principles of balance in yoga, good for practice, good for life: vision, ground, support and center.
Vision starts literally where your eyes fall – your drshti, focus, chosen part of the world to take into your senses. You must choose one that is steady, not too large or small and cultivate the ability to stay with it. You must know to reality of your chosen focus, or when it moves and reveals itself to be an ant you’ll be surprised and loose your balance! Paradoxically, perhaps, this means experimentation with an open heart and mind – without resistance or anticipation – and commitment to revising and refining your vision over time.
Grounding happens where the rubber meets the road, or the skin meets the mat. In standing poses this means connecting through all four corners of your feet and feeling your toes relaxed and alive. This is the root or basis of the pose, and integrity here translates into integrity throughout your body. Off the mat, this can mean being transparent and realistic about our motivation and investment. Where does the rubber hit the road? How does a given activity, relationship or necessity really function in the context of your entire life? Where are your “feet” for this endeavor?
Support comes from the expression of the pose through the entire body. In Warrior I, we often let the back leg become a little lax, after all we can’t see it and we’re so focused on the arms in the air and not falling over! Well not falling over is specifically influenced by how alive that back leg is! Even effort throughout all the limbs with the muscles gently huggging the bones and drawing into the core, even while we reach strongly out from the heart supports the overall expression of the pose, or any endeavor.
Centering happens when we muscularly, energetically, emotionally, mentally hew to midline. Just as we draw our muscles to midline at the end of a meditative outbreath, centering requires that we draw our core support muscles into the center of the body. Core strength starts in the inner thighs, is felt in the pelvic floor and translates into the 3 major abdominal muscle groups usually associated with core strength, and even requires the finer muscles supporting the spine, connecting the spine and torso, all of which support the smooth and effective function of the diaphragm in respiration.
Whether in yoga pose or traffic, find equanimity by bringing your awareness to your vision, ground, support & center. You’ll breathe more easily, think more clearly, focus more securely and choose with integrity you find it easy to follow through. Breathe, Balance, Be!