One challenge I often find myself up against is balance, both on the floor and in the air. Sound familiar? While yoga has provided me with plenty of single leg balance practice, the instant I go up on relevé (on one foot or two!) I feel like a newborn baby giraffe. My torso wants to tip over and my arms want to windmill all over. Not very graceful! In the air, balance issues present themselves differently, but are no less challenging. Often its the challenge of balancing torso weight versus legs in skills like a back balance. Let’s take a look at the causes and fixes for these two types of balance challenges.
In floor work, your balance challenges usually come from either sustained single-leg poses, or relevé. To maintain your balance in these types of poses, you want to think of shooting your energy up through the top of your head. You can imagine a string attached to the top of your head, pulling you up toward the ceiling and lengthening your spine. In Tai Chi this is called “Giant Pulls the Pearl Necklace”. When performing a technique that is not lifting upward, but presents a balance challenge, such as arabesque, think of shooting your energy outward to opposite walls.
Ok, I’m thinking of sending my energy up, but I’m still wobbly. Now what? Well, as with any other technique, the keys are strength and practice. Improve your core strength with bird dogs and hollow body exercises. Practice your balancing poses with assistance until you can do them without.
Start in table top position, hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Extend your right arm out in front of you and your left leg out behind you. Think of shooting your energy out to opposite walls. With control, bring your right elbow and your left knee together, then return to extended position. Repeat for 30 seconds. Return to table top position, and do the same with your left arm and right leg extended. For a more advanced variation, begin in plank position instead of hands and knees.
Begin lying on your back with legs straight and arms by your sides. Imagine a hand taking your lower abs and crumpling them like a piece of paper. This movement should also serve to press your lower back into the floor. Lift your legs and shoulders slightly off the ground. Hold this position.