Balancing yoga postures are never a given, for even the most experienced yogi. Take a look at our top tips to build confidence and strength, in body and mind.
If you’ve read our blog post “What does your favourite yoga pose say about you?” (and if you haven’t, give it a read! It’s a good one), you might remember that balancing poses fall into the ‘Bhava’ (attitude) of knowledge. People who like balancing postures tend to enjoy the learning aspect of yoga. Analysing how their breath and their body feel while performing yoga poses. Questioning their yoga practice to gain insights about themselves.
And if you think about that word ‘knowledge’, you’re adding to your own little data bank of self-information when you’re doing a balance pose. You’re learning that a small movement this way, or a tiny adjustment there, can have a big impact. It can turn a wobble into a collapse, or a teeter into total stillness.
I’m not ashamed to admit it. I love balancing poses. Even when my legs are jelly. Or my mind isn’t with it. For just that short time, the brain goes quiet and my focus is laser pointed towards one tiny thing; the miracle of staying upright.
It doesn’t always come easy. Yoga balance poses require strength in the body and stillness in the mind. And that’s sometimes pretty tough after a terrible day at work, or when you’ve just woken up! But don’t give up. Take a look at our top balance tips, and next time you’re mid-wobble, take a breath, focus and regain control.
Ten Tips to find your Yoga Balance (and free guided practice below!)
1. Put down firm roots
There’s a phrase that you might hear yoga teachers say, which I always think sounds a bit bonkers. Grounding through ‘all four corners of the feet’, like your feet are two big rectangles. But to balance firmly, you need to find that strength to ground down. Whatever part of you is touching the ground, set down firm roots and spread that contact as widely as you can.
2. Focus your drishti
A drishti is your focal point, and it’s essential. Ever tried standing steady with your eyes closed? It’s harder than you think. For a typical standing balance, find a focal point straight ahead and maintain it. If you’re finding it hard to keep your balance, try moving your drishti and looking for something that works for you.
3. Build strength
Like most things that look effortless, balancing is a secret workhorse, using almost every muscle in the body. But fear not, because other yoga poses will help build this strength. Lunging postures or chair pose will help you build up strength in your legs, while boat pose improves abdominal muscles.
4. Move slowly
Jerky movements are the enemy of balance. You’ll be much more likely to take a nose-dive out of tree pose if you yank your foot off the floor. Approach balances calmly, slowly, and mindfully, from the core.
5. Start small and find variations
You don’t need to move directly into standing splits, or tricky arm balances. In fact, that’s a sure-fire way to injure yourself. It’s totally acceptable to practice next to a wall, or to leave your big toe very close to the floor in Warrior III. If you practice with a friend, use each other as supports while you build strength.
6. Engage the core muscles
Balance postures aren’t simply about yanking your foot off the floor. Your whole core, hips and glutes should be centred and stabilised before even starting to go into the balance. Move mindfully and engage your core, keeping your body aligned throughout.
7. Control the breath
While you’re focusing your eyes, take time to focus the mind. Keeping a calm, steady flow of breath will really help you maintain concentration and steadiness in your balance posture.
8. Work on the transitions
You’re always going to be most likely to fall out of a balance when you’re moving. For example, simply lifting your arms up in tree pose can be enough to disturb your equilibrium. Or tipping forward in Warrior III and making the floor wobble. This is where maintaining a focal point, engaging your core and breathing steadily will help the most.
9. Don’t strain
This is a toughy! Isn’t it hard to stay relaxed when your entire body is anxious to succeed? Start to notice any of those places where you’re tensing up or clenching. Once you’ve noticed, take a big breath and relax.
10. Don’t beat yourself up
I’m going to repeat that last word again. Relax. It doesn’t matter if you fall out of a pose. Just take a breath, stand still and tall, and try again.
Sound easy? Probably not at first, but you’ll get there. Get started with these easy balance poses and follow along with this short practice video.
5 Easy Balance Postures
1. Standing prayer pose
2. Tree Pose
3. Warrior III
4. High lunge
5. Twisting high lunge
Ready to create a little bit of space for you? Why not try our Live Online Yoga classes, bringing you accessible yoga for all, from our living room to yours? Sign up now for 15 days of free unlimited classes.
Carmel is a travel professional and lover of literature and Latin America. In her day job at a tour operator she whisks people away to far off destinations, while in her spare time she moonlights as a freelance copywriter. You can find her portfolio here https://carmelhendry.journoportfolio.com. While not writing, or dreaming about travel, she can be found playing the piano, cycling or practising yoga. She’s spent the last year learning how to do a headstand, but mostly can be found relaxing in child’s pose! Join her and the Frog Project Community with 15 days of free unlimited classes. It’s just yoga.