3 Ways Balancing Yoga Poses Can Help You Live Better "Off The Mat"
Balancing poses are practiced in most yoga classes. Aside from physical benefits — improved coordination, increased physical strength and more stability — balancing poses can offer many emotional and spiritual benefits, too.
When balancing is practiced regularly, these teachings from the mat can be applied to your everyday life:
1. Change is the only constant thing in life.
Depending on what pose you are practicing, how your body is feeling, where your mind is at and the environment you're in, balancing poses will feel different each day. One day, Tree Pose (Vrksasana) might seem really easy for you, whereas the next day you could feel unstable or fatigued.
And just like practicing balancing poses on the mat, you’re different every day off the mat, too!
In Patanjali's "Eight Limbs of Yoga," Aparigraha (non-attachment) — the fifth element of the first limb (the Yamas or restraints) — can help you understand that change is the only constant thing in life. Each day, we are given the opportunity to learn and explore. So maybe we don’t always realize it, but we are changing and growing all the time.
Try not to get attached to habits, and learn to let go of expectations you have for yourself and others. Notice subtle changes in yourself — mentally and emotionally — and accept yourself for exactly who you are and where you are in your life right now.
Know that tomorrow will bring a new experience. Embrace change and remember that even the smallest things can make a big difference.
2. The present moment deserves your full attention.
Often, people are encouraged to “find their Drishti” before stepping into a balancing yoga pose. A Drishti means to soften the eyes into a focused gaze. In a standing balancing pose, for example, a practitioner could be encouraged to keep their gaze on a steady focus point at the front of room. The Drishti connects to the sixth limb of yoga, Dharana, related to concentration.
When you’re in a balancing pose, you must be giving it your full attention to come into your fullest variation. Living in the moment and focusing on the effort of the pose helps you become stronger and more stable.
This is true with all you do in life as well. If you’re not focused on what you’re doing, you may not reach your fullest potential. In our fast-paced, multi-faceted world, paying attention to one single thing can seem impossible at times. But balancing poses can remind you how important it is to practice and work toward being in the present moment and dedicating your full attention to it.
This can be as simple as putting your phone away when running errands, or while having a conversation with someone. As you strengthen your ability to “find your Drishti” on the mat, think of strengthening your focus off the mat, too.
3. You are stronger than you think.
Building strength, coordination and knowing how to activate and isolate specific muscles in a balancing pose deepens your practice overall. But this takes time and dedication as you explore new movements and continue challenging yourself. Working through different balancing asanas — the third limb of yoga — helps your body and mind become sharper. This is when you begin to understand how the two are connected.
This physical movement combined with pranayama — the fourth limb of yoga related to the control of breath — can take you through an inner journey and help you realize how strong you truly are. Having fun with different balancing poses can also invite creativity and new ways of thinking into your life. If you are consistent with your practice, you’ll be able to do things that never seemed possible before.
And just like on the mat, if you continue to challenge yourself and try new things off the mat, you will build confidence and courage to do things you never thought were possible before!
You are stronger than you think, but won’t recognize your fullest potential until you establish that connection between the body and mind. Balancing poses can help you realize that all the answers are within.
Balancing poses can often be the hardest poses to do, but let them serve as a reminder that nothing in life worth having comes easy. And just like in life, you will fall. You will experience growing pains. But by staying determined and true to yourself, balancing poses will you flourish both on and off the mat.