Saturday, May 28, 2016

Balance, Buddy

In Trust Thyself, I wrote about how yoga can serve as a diagnostic practice, allowing you insight into which areas of the body are tensed and what you can or cannot do in a given day. As I've gone deeper into the practice, I've also noticed it tips me off as to ways I can improve my balance. During several poses that comprise the "balancing series" I've come to find that, for years, I haven't truly balanced my body when needed. Most often, I've simply tensed muscles to overcompensate for other, more "warped" parts of my figure.

In the aforementioned article, I mentioned the high arches in my feet (which I know intrigued you all). Thus, when performing a pose (or asana) entitled standing bow (see below), I noticed that to compensate for such arches, I often tensed tendons on the other side of my feet to remain upright. With practice, however, one learns to... trust thyself and ease into the pose in a way that fosters true balance, with all them relevant body parts aligned. And when you do, it's an odd experience that comes over you. As I found, you increasingly observe your body rather than struggle as you stop doing for it what it can do for itself. You can simply relax, sit back and enjoy the show... so to speak. However, this "halo" doesn't last long and before I know it, I'm back to assessing and working with my balance and an asana which shows me accurately where I "stand" is tree pose.

Bow, buddy

You've likely seen tree pose in pop culture. It's the one where a woman puts her foot to her knee and looks exceedingly calm and collected in her Lululemon pants. In the bikram series, however, tree pose is a bit different. For one, it comes at a point in the series where you've accomplished ten asanas in 105 degree heat and look (and feel) like an ogre. Also, if you do the "full expression" of the pose (which I'm yet to accomplish) it's a bit more difficult than what you might see on a Hallmark card.

Tree pose, or tandasana, in bikram yoga is meant, partially, to open your hips (where a lot of emotion is apparently stored). According to Bikram Yoga Vancouver, it also, "stretches the spine and improves posture and balance while increasing the flexibility of the ankles." For me, however, it also serves as a great way to consistently assess my balance ability. To preform tree pose and use it to tap into how your own body seeks balance, I've included a video below... Enjoy!

Note: There is an entire dialouge associated with each Bikram Yoga class. For copyright reasons, I'm unsure if I can replicate it here but I will do my best to explain the pose through other means. 


1. Start standing relaxed with your feet together.

2. Bend your right leg and bring your heel to the "costume" or place where your leg meets your hip.

3. Hold your heel there and find your balance.

4. When you feel balanced, bring your right hand up to your chest. If you feel you have a good command of your posture, bring your left hand to your chest (not pictured).

This is the difficult part...

5. When your feel you are still balanced, close your eyes. See how well you can keep balancing.

6. When you are done, honor yourself for your efforts.


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