Yoga Finds Our Balance

Article by: Janna Leyde

Illustrations by: Nicole Renee

From: JannaMLeyde.com

Balance is our natural state. We seek it, both mentally and physically. It is when we are off our center, away from our midline, or just not quite right, that those unsettling emerge. Those like fear, apathy, anger, impatience, compulsion, greed. And even the good ones, like elation, ambition, exuberance and determination can put us off kilter.

“Yoga is the study of balance, and balance is the aim of all living creatures: it is our home.”

-Rolf Gates

Yoga is a practice of opposing energies. In any given yoga class, the poses will lead the body through expansion and contraction, right versus left, grounding as opposed to energizing. If we are able to harness these oppositions in tandem, then we are onto something. Some might call it emotional stability.

Below are Three Yoga Practices that help bring back the balance. All you need are few minutes to yourself and a quiet place to practice.

Seated Hip Circles
to reconnect with your center

  • Choose a quiet space and find a comfortable seat—sukhasana (Easy Pose). You can either sit with legs crossed on the floor (or sit on top of a folded blanket or a pillow) or sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor.
  • Place hands, palms facing down, on top of the knees. Close your eyes. Sit in stillness to take a moment to connect with your breath. If this feels like a challenge, count 1-2-3 for each inhale and 3-2-1 for each exhale.
  • Stay connected to the breath as you begin to make circles with your upper body.
  • Inhale and swing the hips and torso over the left, drawing a half-circle as you rock back, dip the chin, and round the spine.
  • Exhale and swing the hips and torso over to the right to complete the circle as you lift the chin and chest and lean forward.

Repeat these movements for 1-2 minutes. Think of it as drawing a counter-clockwise circle around your seat. Switch to a clockwise rotation and repeat for another set of 1-2 minutes. Get creative and allow the elbows to bend and rock as far back, forward or to the side as feels good to your body.

Sun Breaths
to let go of what is not serving you

  • Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with the big toes touching and the heels slightly apart (or keep the feet parallel and hip-width distance apart). Feel the weight in the heel and the ball of each foot evenly. Pick up all ten toes and place them down one toe at a time. Allow the arms to rest easy at your sides.

One complete Sun Breath:

  • Inhale and extend the arms all the way out to the sides. Imagine you are scooping up all the air as you reach the fingertips up toward the sky—Urdhva Hastasana
  • Exhale to swan dive forward, bringing the hands down as you fold at the waist into a forward fold—Uttanasana. Let the knees bend if the hamstrings are tight.
  • Inhale and lift the torso up to a flat back and rest the hands on the shins. Keep the back of the neck long and the lower belly engaged to support a healthy spine—Ardha Uttanasana
  • Exhale and fold back down to Uttanasana.
  • Inhale, bend the knees—a lot—and begin a slow roll up to stand, heading lifting up last.
  • Exhale and bring the palms together and draw them down in front of your heart—Tadasana.

 Practice 3-5 Sun Breaths, initiating each inhale and exhale before the movement of the body. You can close your eyes and imagine that you are swimming or flying through the air.

Alternate Nostril Breathing
to balance your inner energy channels.

  • Choose a quiet space and find a comfortable seat—Sukhasana (Easy Pose). You can either sit with legs crossed on the floor (or on top of a folded blanket or pillow) or sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Sit with a tall spine.
  • Left hand: Bring the index finger and thumb to touch. Extend the other three fingers and place the back of the hand on the left knee.
  • Right hand: Reach the tips of the index finger and middle finger up to the space between the eyebrows (the third eye). Place the ring finger and the little finger on the left side of the nose. Place the thumb on the right side the nose. (The right hand controls the breathing in and out of each nostril for this exercise).

 One complete round of breath:

  • Close the left nostril and inhale through the right for 1-2-3
  • Close both nostrils and retain the inhale for 3-2-1
  • Release the left nostril and exhale for 1-2-3
  • Release the right and retain the exhale for 3-2-1
  • Close the right nostril and inhale through the left for 1-2-3
  • Close both nostrils and retain the inhale for 3-2-1
  • Release the right nostril and exhale for 1-2-3
  • Release both and retain for 3-2-1

 

Practice for 5-10 complete rounds of breath. You can increase the count to a 4-count or 6-count breath if you feel comfortable. Try to keep the breaths even. 

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