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Balancing Asanas

28 Dec 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy

Natarajasana ( Lord's Shiva Pose ) & Balancing Asanas

Balancing asanas develop the functions of the cerebellum, the brain Centre that controls how the body works in motion. Most people are uncoordinated in their movements, so their bodies constantly have to compensate for their lack of balance in order to falling or knocking things over. This expends maximum effort and energy for minimum results, creating considerable additional strains. Such people will benefit from this series. However, people with diseases of the cerebellum should not attempt it. Balancing asanas improve muscle coordination and posture, including physical and nervous balance, and stilling unconscious movement. This conserves energy and achieves grace and fluidity of motion.

The focus required to perform these asanas with steadiness develops con concentration and balance at the emotional, mental and psychic levels, removing stress and anxiety. For relief of excessive tension these practices should be held for as long as comfortable. To steady the mind, practice concentration on point, at eye or navel level, on the ground, or as indicated in the individual asana- this allows the body to maintain seemingly difficult positions for long periods of time.

Balancing asanas may be difficult to perform at first. However, the body is very adaptable and progress will quickly be made with a few-weeks of regular practice. Carefully observe the contra-indications given for individual practices.

Some Balancing Asanas

EKa Pada Pranamasana (one legged prayer pose) :

Stand upright with the feet together and the arms at the sides. Focus  the gaze on a fixed point of the body. Bend the right leg, grasp the ankle and place the sole of the foot on the inside of the left thigh. The heel should be close to the perineum and the right knee should point out to the  side.

When the body is balanced , place the hands in prayer position in front of the chest for the final position.

Release the hands and then the foot.

Relax completely in the starting position, and change sides.

Breathing : Breathe normally throughout the  practice.

Duration: Practice up to 3 rounds on each leg, holding the final position for up to 2 minutes.

Awareness: Physical –on a fixed point at eye level.

   spiriitual– on ajna or anahata chakra.

Benefits : This asana develops nervous balance. It also strengthens the leg, ankle , and foot muscles.

Variations: Assume the final positions of eka pada pranamasana . Keeping the gaze focused at eye level, inhale and raise the arms above the head, palms together. Hold the position with the breath inside and on, exhalation, lower the hands back in front of the chest. Repeat on the other side.

Garudasana

  • Assume the standing position and focus the gaze on a fixed spot.
  • Bend the right leg and twist it around the left leg. The right thigh should be in front of the left thigh and the top of the right foot should rest on the calf of the left leg.
  • Bead the elbows and bring them in front of the chest.
  • Twist the forearms around each other with the left elbow remaining below.
  • Place the palms together to resemble an eagle`s beak.
  • Balance in this position for some time, then slowly bend the left knee and lower the body, keeping the back straight, until the elbows come down to the knees and the tip of the right big toe touches the floor.
  • Keep the eyes focused on the fixed point.
  • Hold the final position for as long as  is comfortable, then raise the  body , and release the legs and arms.
  • Relax with the eyes closed.
  • Repeat with the legs and arms the opposite way around.
  • Practice up to 3 rounds on each side.

Breathing : Breathe normally throughout the practice.

Awareness: Physical- on maintaining balance while lowering and raising the  body.  Spiritual – on mooladhara chakra.

Benefits: Garudasana improves concentration, strengthens the muscles and loosens the joints of the shoulders, arms and legs, and is good for the upper back.

Natrajasana

  • Stand with the feet together and gaze at a fixed point .
  • Bend the right knee and grasp the right big toe.
  • As the right leg is raised , swivel the shoulder , so that the elbow of the arm holding the big toe points upward. This position of the hand and arm will allow the foot to be raised nearer to the back of the head.
  • Make sure the right hip does not twist and the leg is raised directly behind the body.
  • Reach upward and forward with the left arm, bringing the tip of the index  finger and thumb of the left hand together to form jnana mudra. Focus the gaze on the left hand.
  • This is the final position.
  • Hold the position for as long as possible.
  • Lower the left arm to the side. Lower the right leg, releasing the right foot to the floor and the right arm to the side.
  • Relax, then repeat on the other side.
  • Practice up to 3 times on each side.

Breathing: Breathe normally throughout the practice.

Contra-indications: People who suffer from a weak heart, high blood pressure, back problems, hernia, colitis, peptic or duodenal ulcers, or vertigo should not practice the asana.

Benefits: This asana strengthens the back, shoulders, arms, hips and legs. It helps develop a sense of balance and coordination and improves concentration.

Variation: Advanced practitioners with flexible bodies may be able to touch the back of the head with the toes or to hold the toes with both hands.

Eka Padasana

  • Stand relaxed, with the feet together.
  • Raise the arms directly above the head and interlock the fingers with the palms together.
  • Bend forward slowly from the hips, keeping the trunk, head and arms in a straight line and transferring the weight on to the right leg.
  • Simultaneously raise the left leg straight back, keeping it in line with the trunk.
  • The body should pivot from the right hip joint.
  • In the final position the left leg, trunk and arms are all in one straight, horizontal line. The right leg is straight and vertical.
  • Focus the gaze on the hands.
  • Hold the final position for as long as is comfortable and then, keeping the arms, back and leg aligned, return to the upright position.
  • Slowly lower the arms and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement, raising the arms.

Breathing: Inhale while raising the arms. Exhale while bending to assume the final position. Inhale while returning to the upright position. Exhale while lowering the arms.

Duration: Up to 3 times on each side, holding for as long as is comfortable each time.

Awareness: Physical- on maintaining the alignment of limbs and spine, and on maintaining  balance. Spiritual-  on swadhisthana or manipura chakra.

Sequence: This asana should be preceded or followed by a backward bending asana such as makarasana. This posture ay be used as a preliminary practice to bakasana.

Contra-indications- People with lower back problems, heart problems or high blood pressure should not do this asana.

Benefits- This asana strengthens the arms, wrists, back, hips and leg muscles. It helps to develop muscular coordination, nervous balance and concentration.

Bakasana

  • Relax in the standing position with the feet together.
  • Raise the arms in front of the body over the head.
  • Bend forward from the hips, transferring the weight to the right foot, and touch the toes of the right foot with both hands. Simultaneously, slowly stretch the left leg behind, raising it as high as is comfortable and bring the forehead towards the right knee.
  • Keep both legs straight.
  • To release, lower the leg and return to the upright position, keeping the arms straight as they are raised above the head. Then lower the arms and relax in the standing position.
  • Repeat the practice on the other arms.

Breathing–  Inhale while raising the arms. Exhale while bending forward. Breathe normally in the final position. Inhale while returning to the upright position. Exhale while lowering the arms.

Duration: Up to 3 times on each side, holding for as long as is comfortable each time.

Awareness: physical- on maintaining balance. Spiritual- on swadhisthana or manipura chakra.

Contraindications: People with back or heart problems, high blood pressure or vertigo should not practice this asana. Cautions for inverted asanas apply.

Benefits: Strengthen the back, hip and leg muscles, improves blood circulation and gives a beneficial compression to the abdominal organs. It aids concentration, balance and nervous coordination.

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