December 23, 2012

6 Tips for Perfect Balance. ~ Ben Ralston

Many asana students struggle with balancing postures. For some people it comes naturally but for others it can feel like you’ll never be able to stand on one leg for more than a few wobbly seconds! And then there’s headstand, scorpion, handstand…

Here is my simple guide to better balance.

Before we get started I want you to remember something that you already know, but instantly forget whenever your teacher asks you to go into a balancing pose: the body and mind are one.

Too often, and especially in situations that stress us we completely forget the mind-body connection. So that in our struggle to maintain balance we end up fighting with ourselves!

“Come on leg, why won’t you stop wobbling!?”

Once you start doing that, it’s all over. You won’t find balance by willing it to happen!

Remember: mind and body are one. Where does the mind begin and the body end? You cannot say. Mind and body are two sides of the same coin.


General advice: whenever you are struggling, always come back to the basics: breath, relaxation, and focus.


6 Very Useful Tips for better balance:

1 – Make the most of your contact with the ground.

If you are balancing on one leg spread those toes, widen the ball of your foot on the ground, lengthen through the heel. You don’t have much contact with the ground so maximize it.

2 – Spread your body weight evenly.

In other words when balancing on two legs, have 50% of your weight on each leg, and a quarter of your body weight on the front and back of each foot, and so on. This is something that most people fail to practice, and it’s so important in Yoga practice (not only for balance – it also stimulates a balanced flow of energy; improves concentration; deepens relaxation).

Spread your body weight evenly.

3 – Use your eyes.

Use your eyes to help you balance. The eyes, like the breath, are a vital bridge between mind and body. When the eyes are steady the mind is steady, when the mind is steady the body is steady.

So, focus your eyes with calm intent on one point. Choose a point directly ahead and focus your eyes on that point. Imagine that your eyes are beaming lasers towards that point, and the laser beams anchor you to it strongly. With this concentration, your balance will improve immeasurably.

4 – Keep your head steady.

Feel a lift through the neck; the crown of the head moving away from the (relaxed) shoulders, so that the neck lengthens subtly. At the same time, the chin is very slightly down towards the chest. Feel this subtle stretch through the neck whenever you balance. This (and the next tip) will aid your body’s proprioception*.

5 – Spread and lengthen your fingers and toes slightly.

Feel a gentle stretch through your palms and the soles of your feet. This will give you a sense of expansion. To take it one step further, imagine that reaching out through your hands and feet, fingers and toes, there are invisible lines of energy, like the strands of a spider’s web, that connect you to the world around you.

6 – Relax, be subtle.

What does that mean, to be subtle?!

Well, balance is subtle (there are several subtle factors that influence it). Maintain a subtle relaxation, a subtle lengthening through the posture, a deep but subtle breath. Keep your concentration focused, but subtle.

Subtlety is the difference between talking and listening, looking and seeing, thinking and feeling, knowledge and intuition, speed and haste.

Learning to be subtle is really the art of good balance.


So, those are my 6 tricks for better balance. Please practice them and let me know how it goes – did you master any poses that you couldn’t before? Do you have anything to add to the list? Leave a comment!

And please spread the love (not just the toes!), and share this with your friends.

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