As beginners become intermediate yoga students, one difficulty is to learn how to balance on one leg in yoga poses. Experienced yogis have learned the art of engaging muscles, maintaining posture, and recruiting mental concentration in order to masterfully balance on one foot.
Beginner Balance Poses
Many yoga poses require significant ability to balance, even if both feet are firmly planted on the ground. In order to keep yourself grounded in these yoga poses, it's important to properly align your skeleton and engage the right muscles.
Mountain Pose is one of the very first poses to master as a beginner. When you see this pose in class or in yoga books or magazines, your reaction is probably that there's nothing to it. However, working on your balancing skills in this pose can set you up for superior balance ability in advanced poses.
While holding Mountain Pose, turn your attention to your feet. Ensure that your toes are not curled and your arches are not collapsed. Do not roll your feet outwards or roll your ankles in either direction. Make sure that your knees are not locked, but instead engage the muscles in your thighs in order to maintain the pose. Ensure that your pelvis is tucked in and pointed downwards, that your chin is low, shoulders back and down, and your neck is relaxed.
Starting every practice with a few minutes in Mountain Pose in order to check your balance points will make every advanced balancing position easier to achieve and easier to hold.
Balancing in Yoga
Several basic yoga positions require balance. These poses, though two feet are on the ground, are the foundation to learning one-leg balance poses, such as Tree Pose. Practice these poses regularly during your yoga practice, and while you practice these poses, focus on becoming aware of how you balance in these poses. Ask your instructor for tips and feedback on your balancing strategies. For those who practice at home, remember that stopping a pose early is better than contorting your body in order to maintain some semblance of a pose in which you were unbalanced.
Warrior Pose is a great position for balancing because of the angle in your knee, which makes it difficult to balance. The tendency is for the bent knee to either float inwards or outwards in the pose. Tightening the leg muscles is the key to balancing in this pose.
Triangle Pose requires balance in the legs, and also in the torso. Engaging your core muscles will help maintain this pose. For beginners, use a block or two under the supporting hand in order to ease the balancing aspect of this pose; as your flexibility increases, progress from two blocks to one block, and then perform the pose without props if possible.
Side Angle Pose is an Iyengar pose that also works balance. This pose, like Triangle Pose, requires putting one hand down on the ground. In this pose, however, the torso is stretched instead of twisted, offering another opportunity to recruit core strength for the purpose of balance.
Learn How to Balance on One Leg in Yoga
Tree Pose is the ultimate balancing challenge for beginning yoga students. Many students claim that they will never be able to properly execute this pose; however, with a little practice in order to learn how to balance on one leg in yoga poses, Tree Pose can become a favorite pose. Experienced yogis love to relax in Tree Pose.
Start with a modified Tree Pose (raised leg lower on the planted leg), and keep your hands in Namaste instead of raising them above your head. Transition into the pose slowly; ground yourself in Mountain Pose and then slowly shift your weight onto one leg. Before lifting the other leg off of the ground, feel your body's weight supported by the planted leg; lifting the raised leg should be met with no resistance because you are already fully supported by the planted leg. Slowly raise the leg onto your calf instead of going for the inner thigh. Move slowly and calmly, remembering that everyone struggles with this pose.
While learning to balance in yoga positions can seem exceedingly difficult, your balance will improve over time. Relax your mind and let your body learn to balance without stressing over your balancing goals. With a focused, relaxed outlook, and frequent practice of balancing poses, your ability to balance in yoga poses will quickly increase.