Wobbly warriors and toppling trees unite! We all have those days where balance seems to disappear the moment we step on the mat. Its completely normal, there are so many factors involved at once, it’s not surprising that it’s tricky to stand or move on one leg, sometimes even both legs! We all have the ability to balance, we do it everyday just standing up, walking, going up and down stairs….
So here are a few things to help you make those days fewer and farther between.
Mindset is Key
Think about it, if you approached walking down the street the same way you approached coming into tree we’d all be gibbering wrecks the whole time. As soon as a balancing posture comes up in class, the mind goes into a frenzy “Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall, how is everyone else doing this? Oh, what if I completely topple over in front of everyone? Etc. etc.” This is ego talking, it’s stolen your focus and holding it hostage. This ‘caution’ talk is passive aggressively self sabotaging, what it’s really telling you is “I can’t do this, I can’t, I can’t, don’t even try or you’ll make a fool of yourself” you’ve gone from being centred and embodied in your practice to up in your head. When you’re not fully committed you cannot be embodied and moving with your body instead of against it. Remember it doesn’t matter how the posture looks, it’s how it feels to you, much better to modify and listen to your body as you build strength that to jump into the hardest possible variation… don’t let ego get the better of you.
So chill! Stay relaxed, in the long run what does it matter if you stumble or even fall, assuming you don’t hurt yourself. I’ve fallen in class many times and honestly no-one even thinks twice about it once they can see you’re fine. The calmer you are, the more with the breath, the more fully you commit the more likely you will balance.
Getting a clear picture in you head of what you are about to do, how it will feel in the body helps us to familiarise ourselves with the posture, creating neural pathways in the brain. It can also stimulate the nervous system in the same way as actually trying it, so the next time you try it the body is ready and prepped.
Think feet up! (not like that!)
Your feet are the foundations of your pose. If your foundations are strong and well placed, your building is going to be much less wobbly.
Take a moment to stand in mountain pose, notice what is happening in your feet.
Spread the toes, with out gripping the floor, imagine roots growing from all 4 corners of the feet. Press the feet down and slightly lift the inner arches, follow the engagement up the inner leg to the pelvic floor, lift it slightly, the lower belly begins to brace and the core creates a corset to support the body. Engage mula bandha and uddiyana bandha, our energy locks at the root and below the ribs, a subtle energetic lift.
Imagine there is elastic attached from the bottom of the right ribs to the top of the left hip and vice versa. Now grow out of the abdomen, almost make the space between the hip and ribs longer – remember those elastics stopping the ribs from flaring, lengthen the back on the neck and grow from the crown of the head. – so you’ve got a strong press down through the feet and a strong pull up to the ceiling.
Now rock side to side, left and right and notice where the centre of gravity is, visualise a line down the body.
Come back to centre and lift one leg off the floor, what happens to the centre of gravity? Where is the line now?
Build the posture from foundations up (whether that be feet, hands, head etc) come into it slowly and mindfully and visualise the shift in weight. Remember to BREATH
That all important drishti or gaze point serves two functions, firstly focusing and centring the mind and secondly fixing the gaze allows the body to find stability more easily. The body uses the vestibular system (in the ears), the muscles and the gaze to stay balanced at all times. If one of these is compromised it makes it much harder for the others to function accurately. Have you ever had an ear infection and had your balance affected? So if you’re looking all over the place and finding your wobbling all over the place that is probably the reason. You go where you look, just like driving a car! Think of your gaze point as your third leg.
So when you’re having an off day and the balance isn’t there be kind to yourself, let it go and take a moment to check in with yourself. Is there something on your mind blurring your focus? Have you got stuck in the mind? Are you still breathing? Does it matter if you get into said pose, if it does, why? Is it ego? Remember to keep things in perspective.
For more on Balance why not join me for a workshop at Jiva Health Wimbledon on Saturday 14th March 2020 4:30-6:30pm book in via the mind body app or contact the studio directly.