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  • Gordon Kanzer

Mastering a Yoga Balance Posture ~ a challenge of the mind, not the body

Updated: Sep 23, 2019


Photo by Michael O'Neill from his book ~ On Yoga, Architecture of Peace

Many times, we consider a balance posture in yoga, such as the tree (vrikshasana) or the eagle (garudasana) as a physical challenge, trying to stand on one leg, overcoming the brain's natural tendency to bring us from instability to stability. This sets one up for potential failure and negative self-judgments coming from wobbling or falling out of the pose. Yoga is a balance of mind and body. Focusing on the act of standing on one leg shifts the scales heavily towards the body and neglects the mind. Success is realized by not considering a balance posture as a physical challenge, but challenge of the mind. The eighth limb of samadhi in Pantanjali's Yoga Sutras is reached by clearing the mind of all thoughts except for a single-pointed exploration of an experienced object without distraction. Samadhi is only reached by a few, but we can still experience a sense of introversion through non-distracted concentration. Success at a balance posture comes from coupling visual and auditory stimuli; a single point we call a drishti, a point on the floor or wall, and the sound of deep breathing. Achieving that state of non-distraction clears the mind of thoughts that don't serve us, including the state of the physical body in space. Thoughts of potential wobbling are released from the mind as that self-fulfilling prophecy of "I can't balance" disappears. Eliminating worries of imbalance and removing thoughts of the physical body promote better balance. Achieving non-distracted concentration equals success at your balance posture. And if you wobble or fall out of a balance posture during your practice, it is a wonderful thing. It means your brain is working as it was designed, and I am always overjoyed to be reminded that my brain is working!






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