The new year is the perfect time to focus on your intentions. A regular yoga practice can help you do this. Yoga is not just a form of exercise, it is a way of life. The lessons that you learn on the mat can be applied off the mat in your day-to-day life as well. Focus on the mat will bring focus to your work and your goals. Balance on the mat will bring balance to your emotions, your thoughts and even your schedule.
Here is my favorite yoga flow for cultivating focus and balance, both on and off the mat. Each pose (except child's pose) should be held for between 30 seconds and 1 minute and repeated on both sides if a single-leg pose.
Tree pose will improve balance and stability in your legs. It will also help you feel more grounded, which can provide a calm concentration in the mind. Start in mountain pose. Place your right foot on your inner left thigh above the knee, pointing your toes down. Place your hands in prayer pose at heart center. Lengthen your tailbone to the floor as you extend your energy through the crown of your head.
Extended hand-to-big-toe hold
This is a fun balancing pose that takes a lot of concentration. It also requires a deep awareness of your breath, which will bring your focus inward and help you increase your awareness for the rest of the day. Start in mountain pose. Grab the big toe or inside arch of your right foot with your right hand. Place your left hand on your hip to support your balance. Stand tall, lengthening your back and standing leg. Extend your right leg to the front of the room and then out to the side. Keep your gaze at eye level. Breathe and hold.
Lord of the Dance
This is a gorgeous pose that represents balance, strength, flexibility, poise, and focus. As you practice this pose, you may feel your head clear of stress and anxiety. Start in mountain pose. Grab the inside of your right shin or foot with your right hand. Extend your leg behind you, lifting your chest and heart to the ceiling. Reach your left arm forward to balance the position. Focus on a point ahead of you to help you balance.
This is the ultimate balancing pose. In order to perform this pose, you must have unwavering focus and concentration. The mechanisms required to balance in warrior 3 can help build strength throughout your entire body and bring focus to your mind. Start in mountain pose. Inhale, reach your arms up to the sky. Exhale, bend at the hips, and lean forward so your torso is parallel to the floor. Begin to extend your right leg behind you, flexing your foot, as you balance on your left leg. Bring your arms to prayer position. Keep your core engaged as you lengthen throughout your whole body. Keep the gaze down about a foot in front of your standing leg. Keep your neck relaxed.
This is a powerful energizing pose that requires great balance and focus. Practicing this pose will help you build a fiery but calm energy that can help you deal with life's challenges. Starting in warrior 3, place your right fingertips on the floor or a block a few inches in front of your right foot. Straighten both legs, flexing your extended foot. Open your hips, torso, and shoulders, keeping your spine aligned as you reach your left arm up to the sky. Gaze up toward your left fingertips.
This is a challenging variation of a forward fold that will put your balance and coordination to the test. The inverted position pulls your concentration inward and brings fresh oxygen to your brain, clearing space for focus and attention. From half-moon, place your fingertips on the floor on either side of your front foot. Extend your back leg to the sky as high as you can while keeping your hips aligned. Relax the crown of your head toward the floor or your shin.
Chair pose is a power pose that quietly builds physical strength and balance. It is also a great pose for centering your focus and attention. Inhale as you bend your knees and lower your hips as if you are sitting in a chair. Raise your arms to the sky, allowing your shoulders to relax away from your ears. Sit down even lower, shift your weight into your heels, and lengthen your lower back. Draw your navel in and up to engage your core.
This arm balance will help you to increase your strength, focus, and stability. This is a super-challenging pose that also requires bravery and persistence, two qualities that are important to leading a thriving life off of the mat. Start in malasana. Place your hands on the ground in front of your feet. Prop your knees onto your upper arms. Gaze forward. Lean forward until your toes lift off the ground.
This pose builds fire in your core while strengthening your concentration. Your core is incredibly important for maintaining balance. The stronger your core, the more balanced and grounded you will feel during any activity. Begin seated with your feet and hands on the floor. Inhale. On the exhale, activate your core and lift your legs up into a 45-degree angle. Extend your arms straight out in front of you. Balance on your sitz bones, keeping your spine straight and your chest lifted.
This resting pose will help you to free your mind from chaos and focus your attention inward. It will both restore your physical energy and rebalance your mood. Sit on your feet with your knees wide and your toes touching. Lower your belly between your thighs, and rest your forehead on the floor. Extend your arms, facing your palms down, and lengthen from your fingertips through your tailbone. Breathe gently into this pose and hold for anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.
If you incorporate this yoga flow into your daily routine, you will see improvements in your focus and balance both on and off the mat.
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