Class 5 - Find Balance
Balance is truly an Art, a constant flow of self-inquiry and refinement.
As priorities shift and inevitable changes occur in life, we are often thrown out of balance. Balance between home and work life, Health and Social life, Mind and Body.
Our most Vital and helpful tool for balance is Breath. When you are mindful and present with your breath, guided by a knowing rather than a striving, pushing or over-thinking, things just seem to flow.
You are more able to relax into life and notice a quality of peace and harmony in the face of storms and sunshine. In this balancing flow, we use our steady breath and soft focus to cultivate mindfulness and balance.
We notice the constant fluctuations and refinements within our body, listening for cues as to when we need to slow down, shift a little to the lift, press more through one foot etc.
Allow yourself to be guided by your breath and your body, and remember, it’s just a yoga pose! Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously!
Sitting in Sukasana – easy cross leg position. Close your eyes.
Allow the hands to rest on the knees. Rock gently side to side
on your sit bones connecting both sit bones to the earth.
From this steady seat, lengthen your spine, allowing the elbows to bend in towards your waist and the shoulders to softly glide down away from the ears. Gently lift the heart broadening your collarbones and draw your chin gently in towards your chest allowing the spine to lengthen up to your crown.
We begin with Nadi Shodana - breathing technique to balance left and right hemispheres of the brain, balancing mind and body. Take the first two fingers of your dominant hand to your third eye point between your eyebrows. Rest the thumb lightly over one nostril and the ring or pinky finger over the other. Inhale through the nose, close the right nostril and exhale out of the left, inhale through the left, close the left nostril and exhale out of the right, inhale through the right, close right off and exhale through the left. This completes one full round. Complete 5 more full rounds.
Tip forward and come onto hands and knees, back is flat, hands directly stacked under shoulders and knees under hips. Spread fingers and ground through your whole hands. Broaden collarbones and glide shoulders away from ears. Draw navel up into spine keeping integrity in the belly. Stretch the right leg back so that the ball of the foot is connected to floor and you can press back through the heel to create a stretch for the back of the leg. Hold for a breath and then keeping the belly engaged, find a spot to focus your gaze on, lift that right leg up just to hip height so that hips are square, flex the right foot by drawing toes toward you and making a footprint behind you so there’s energy in the legs. Then when you are steady, extend the left arm out in front of you at shoulder height. Be sure to keep weight evenly distributed between hand and knee. Hold here for 3 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Curl toes under and Sit the bottom onto the heels. Use your hands to balance here on the balls of your feet. Feet should be hip distance apart. When you are ready, inhale, extend arms overhead and find a steady gaze, start to press into balls of feet and staying on the balls if the feet rise up in toe balance to standing. Exhale hands into heart. Ground down through the feet as if spreading roots into the earth. Inhale and rise arms up above the head with palms pressing together. Exhale and lengthening out of the spine, bend to the left. Keep pressing into the right foot and lengthening the left side waist, strong leg, light spine, right chest opens up toward the sky and arms press straight and extend out lengthening and opening up the right side body. Holds for 3 breaths. Inhale back to centre exhale to the right repeat. Release hands.
Inhale and draw the right knee into the chest and hold, take your right hand and use it to open up the right knee to the side, hold for a breath. Place the right foot against either the side of the calf or the inner thigh – not on the knee – for tree pose. Press the foot into the thigh and the thigh into the foot so there’s energy in the legs. Keep the hands at the heart or open up your branches extending arms upward and out. Hold for 3 breaths.
Peel the foot off the thigh, turn knee forward, with arms extended out to the sides start to bend slightly into the left leg and extend the right leg straight behind you at hip height, wrapping the right hip down so hips are square and making a footprint with the right foot, its flexed and active not dangling. Arms can stay wide, or come to the floor or a chair/block, this is Virabradasana 3 – Flying Warrior. Find a steady focus and notice the constant wavering and refinements that the body experiences. Hold for 3 breaths then release the right leg down, feet hip distance apart, turn toes out at 45 degrees and come into a low squat with the arms inside the knees, hands together in Namaste, back of arms pressing into knees and knees pressing into arms, its ok if your feet aren’t flat on the floor.
Now for some fun. Let the hands come down to shoulder width apart, fingers spread wide and connect to your fingerpads as well as the whoe palm and heel of hand. Suction the fingers a little as if you’re scrunching your mat with your hands, then start to lift up onto the toes, keep pressing legs into arms and vice versa, reach your chest and eyes forward as you look out in front of you a few feet, and maybe one foot will like to lift off the floor, as you press into the hands and trust the weight shifting forward and low to the ground perhaps your other foot will float off the floor also. This is Crow pose. Draw the big toes toward each other balance here with the knees resting on the shelf that the arms create.
Be playful, don’t take yourself too seriously, just have fun and if you fall, try again.
With a smile, come back to feet on floor in malasana and press up to standing. Take a grounding breath to centre yourself. Find a spot to focus on and draw left knee into chest. Hold then draw it out opening to the left, then hold for a breath and place foot onto thigh or calf for tree pose. Choose your variation and hold for 3 breaths. Steadily draw knee forward and with strength and commitment and support of your right leg, start to extend left leg back, wrap th left hip down and flex the foot making a footprint in the air behind you. Extend arms out to ides or let them rest on a supportive block or chair. Hold for 3 breaths then release leg down into malasana low squat again. One more try of crow, be playful and courageous. This pose takes practice and builds confidence. Every day our balance is different, it is no reflection of how great a yogi you are. Be kind, patient and enjoy the challenge. Come back into malasana, then turn knees in and facing forward come up onto the balls of the feet. Get steady in toe balance and when you are ready, press down to rise up extending arms over head and rising all the way on tip toes, lowering heels slowly down at the end and drawing hands into heart. Inhale