Yoga balance poses require to maintain balance. They can be standing on one or two legs, on hands, on all fours, as well as seated.
Benefits and effects of balancing asanas
An unstable position makes the body to constantly look for balance. It activates the so-called stabilizer muscles. First of all, these are deep muscles of the abdomen, shoulder girdle, back, buttocks, and thighs. Training of these muscles plays an important role in the formation of correct posture. It also protects the spine and joints from overload.
Special attention to these muscles should be given in case of the spine curvature, hypermobility of the joints, muscle pain and cramps in the back and pelvic region.
Another effect of balances is the improvement of body sensitivity. This is especially evident when practicing yoga with closed eyes. With neurotic disorders, depression, chronic fatigue, it is much harder to feel body and maintain balance. Hence, the ability to return attention to the body, to feel the center of gravity, and the location of the body in space improves not only physical well-being, but also emotional: anxiety decreases, the ability to relax increases.
In addition, balances are an important part of the practice if a person suffers from diseases of the nervous system. It can be multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and strokes, when the nervous sensitivity and coordination of movements decrease. In these cases such a person should start with the simplest postures under control of the instructor.
Restrictions and safety
The most common problem in yoga balance poses is loss of balance, falling, and injuries. Most often they are limited to bruises and abrasions, but sometimes the consequences can be more serious, up to fractures of the hands, legs or even spine. Balances on the hands and head are especially traumatic.
Start mastering difficult balances with a support. And also put something soft on the place where you can fall: remove items that can be hit, put a pillow. It would be useful to also practice the technique of falls. If you lose balance you could immediately group and not being injured.
Despite the fact that it’s important to perform balances with instability of the joints and spine, as well as with scoliosis and as rehabilitation after injuries, in these cases the practice is significantly limited. It means that all poses standing on one leg or only on arms, when the body weight can overload already weak joints, are excluded. Classes should include postures on all fours, as well as seated balancing asanas.
In general, the joints of the supporting arm or leg in balance must be particularly protected by avoiding pain and discomfort. All body weight puts pressure on them, so the risk of overload and injury increases.
In most balances, it is important to consciously include stabilizer muscles:
- The spine should be as straight and elongated as possible: tuck the pelvis under, align your shoulders, squeeze shoulder blades, do not bend your neck forward or backward. The spine should be stretched in a straight line from the tailbone to the neck.
- Do not straighten the support leg completely: the arm or leg should be slightly bended. It protects the joints from overload.
- Keep free breathing in balance: if you have problems with balance, it reflexively lingers.
- Try to close your eyes in balance if you have mastered the pose. It complicates the task and teaches to be more aware of the body sensations.
If you are experiencing difficulties in balances, these poses should be simplified. There are several simplification principles:
- The easiest way to simplify balance yoga asana is to lean on something (a wall, a chair, or an assistant). Beginners should start with this option.
- The larger the support area and the lower the center of mass is, the easier it is to hold the pose. For this reason, balances are easier for women than for men (for women, the center of mass is lower). Place your hands or feet wider while resting on them, start with mastering those positions where the center of mass is lower. For example, it is easier to master bakasana than “upper” balance adho mukha vrikshasana.
- Direction of sight is also very important. Vision helps to stabilize the pose, giving additional information about the position of the body in space. Direction of view depending on the difficulty of posture is as follows: down; forward; up; eyes closed. Master the balances in such a sequence.
- Focus on the feeling of support and the distribution of weight when performing balances with eyes closed: try to evenly distribute it over the entire area.