Balance for Beginners in Ashtanga Yoga Standing Postures


By: Gaia Staff  |  May 6, 2013

Balance is first and foremost a state of mind. After the inner calm is established the physical expression of balance in yoga postures appears. If you lose your balanced mind while attempting anything in yoga you defeat the entire purpose of the practice. Even if you manage to squeeze and tense your body into the appearance of balance, if the inner world is not calm then yoga is not happening in a meaningful sense. When attempting any of the standing and balancing postures in the Ashtanga Yoga method remember that balance comes from the inner world first.

The best way to learn balance is through trial and error. Each time you experience your body and yourself out of balance you learn how to better maintain your center of harmony. In the standing postures of Ashtanga Yoga many beginners experience shaking and trembling of the limbs in addition to the feeling of perpetually being out of balance. Rather than being discouraged by this, new students should realize that this is the essence of learning balance. If a student does indeed fall out of a standing posture their body is learning how to maintain balance even more. While many people aim to achieve perfect balance on the first try, the true student is one who is willing to learn balance slowly over many years.

One of the first challenges to your sense of balance is a posture called Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. This involves balancing on one leg while holding half lotus position and folding forward over the stranding leg. Combining both external rotation of the hip joint with a good understanding of inner balance this posture requires patience, focus and dedication.

Beginners may find that their hip joints are not open enough to stand in half lotus position. If this is the case an easy modification is a simple tree posture.

Tree posture is not actually included in the traditional Ashtanga Yoga method, but it can be used either as modification or preparation for Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. In order to enter tree transfer the weight of your body onto your left foot. Then externally rotate your right hip joint and bring the right heel as close to the groin as possible.

Point the right knee out to the side and attempt to close the right knee joint fully. Engage your pelvic floor, suck in the lower belly and find your balance deep within your center. If this posture is possible and relatively easy for you, progress to the next level by moving your right foot into half lotus position. If you can balance well and your right knee feels good see if you can reach your right hand around your back to hold onto your right foot. Engage your pelvic floor to maintain the balance.

If your right knee feels good and you have a strong connection to your core, fold forward. If you loose the bind or could not take the bind around your right foot take both of your hands to the floor. After five breaths inhale and lift your chest, exhale as you settle in the posture. Inhale return to standing.

Throughout this movement avoid the temptation to hold on too tightly or force your body. Find the inner balance through a graceful connection to your inner body. When you feel yourself gripping to hard or forcing the movement, relax, stay where you are and just breathe. Over time you will experience balance of the body and mind.


 

Kino MacGregor

Dedicated to transporting the torch of Ashtanga Yoga throughout the world, Kino Macgregor broadcasts the amazing practices and benefits to all.
In her motivational yet easy going approach, Macgregor aids her students in developing and deepening their understanding of their own life through yoga. As one of only 14 people in the United States to receive Certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga from its founder, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India, Macgregor finds that yoga?s most authentic manifestation is through its message of spiritual empowerment, composed flexibility, and expressive harmony.
As the youngest woman to receive the Ashtanga yoga certification, Kino Macgregor has completed the challenging Third Series and is now learning the Fourth Series. Based at her yoga teaching center in Miami, she travels throughout the world sharing her message of Ashtanga Yoga.
Without any previous knowledge in movement training, Kino MacGregor tried her first yoga class at the early age of 19. Three years later, she joined Govinda Kai’s Mysore-style classes in New York City and became a devoted Ashtanga Yoga practitioner. After seven months of traditional Ashtanga practice, Macgregor traveled to Mysore, India to meet her true spiritual teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (“Guruji”). After seven years of consistent trips to Mysore, at the age of 29, she received the Certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga and has since has worked tirelessly to spread the inspiration and benefits of practicing.
After devoting a major portion of her life in personal growth work, Kino Macgregor returned to her home of Miami Beach to create an area devoted to the incorporation of yoga, and holistic health. In 2006, she and her husband, Tim Feldmann, founded Miami Life Center, where together they now facilitate daily classes, and workshops in addition to upholding an international traveling and teaching schedule.
As a life coach and Ph.D. candidate in holistic health with a Master?s Degree from New York University, Kino Macgregor integrates her passion into awareness and empowerment within her yoga teachings. She has been featured in Yoga Journal, Yoga Mind Body Spirit, Yoga Joyful Living, Travel & Leisure Magazine, Ocean Drive Magazine, Boca Raton Magazine, Florida Travel & Life Magazine, Six Degrees Magazine as well as appearing on Miami Beach?s Plum TV and the CBS Today Show. Her individual products include four Ashtanga Yoga DVDs (Kino MacGregor ? A Journey, A Workshop; Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series; Ashtanga Yoga Intermediate Series; Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga), an Ashtanga Yoga practice card and a podcast on yoga. She is currently working on a fourth DVD. Trailers and excerpts from the DVDs can be viewed at her website (kinoyoga.com) or on YouTube.


 

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