Centenary Yoga Balance through standing postures

Celebrations and Salutations to to our beloved Yoga community, November is a perfect time to delve into the profound benefits of standing postures – sometimes overlooked or overdone in Yoga practice.Standing postures strengthen our physical bodies – legs, core, spine – and are protective postures. They also create a harmonious balance of breath, mind, and emotions.

We feel the wobbles, we notice when our mind wanders away from the practice, we notice when we feel grounded and the balance is simple, and we notice when nothing! will balance. And we practice acceptance. And we PRACTICE.

All standing postures require balance, not only the one-legged varieties! Try placing your right heel in front of your left toes, like you were on a tightrope. Feel the challenge to your balance. Then close your eyes.
Thanks, Di M, you taught me this years ago.
Balancing on TWO feet. It’s a thing!
What to notice when you’re balancing on two feet (any orientation, even standing in a queue!) Inquiry questions: Is most weight on balls or heels? Left or right foot? And bring back to balance with your awareness. I’m standing as I’m typing this, and way more weight is on balls and left foot! Bringing it back.

Are my knees soft? Is there a gentle natural curve in my lower back? Is my belly firm yet soft?Is my crown reaching for the sky and feet reaching to centre of the earth? Is my breathing relaxed and balanced inhale & exhales?
Some balancing standing postures to practise, 5 min each. Tadasana:

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Simply Standing.

The simplicity of Tadasana is deceptive, as it forms the foundation for many standing poses. By grounding the feet and lengthening the spine, this pose promotes a sense of stability and calm. Tadasana engages the entire body, from the toes to the crown of the head, aligning the energy centers and creating a harmonious flow of vitality.
Arms can be by your sides or above your head.
Through the stillness of Mountain Pose, you practise centring yourself, creating a balance that resonates both physically and mentally. Extra challenge – close your eyes and work through the steps above.
Tree pose, traditional Balance

2. Vrikshasana (Tree Pose):

Vrikshasana embodies the essence of balance, requiring practitioners to stand on one leg while maintaining a steady gaze. This posture not only strengthens your legs, and core & spine, but also cultivates concentration and focus.As the body sways, like a tree in the woods, the mind learns to explore equilibrium, teaching us to adapt, breath and stay grounded in the face of life’s challenges. The Tree Pose brings balance physically, instilling a deep sense of emotional and mental stability. Extra challenges – change foot position, raise arms.
Reverse triangle!

3. Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose):

Last week we explored Utthita Trikonasana, extended Triangle Pose. This week, we’ll explore the revolved version (standing, balancing extended twist).This posture is a dynamic standing posture that engages the entire body. It stretches the legs, opens the chest, and extends the spine, relieving back pain as we twist. Legs are straight and you’ll need to take a smaller gap between your feet. Use blocks for support and keep moving your shoulders to right angles to your hips.

Extra challenges – stretch the mat with your feet then contract and feel the difference, strength and balance. Your revolved triangle encourages a delicate dance between strength and flexibility, exploring balance physically, mentally and emotionally. As the body twists and reaches in opposite directions, you may experience a profound release of tension, and a calm balanced state of being.
In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, standing postures serve as anchors, allowingus to find stability amidst the chaos and wonders of daily life. Keep Standing!

Beginners’ Mind

In our Yoga practise and in our lives, the concept of the Beginner’s Mind is a useful tool to consider. We know the tedium of listening to someone who ‘knows everything’, Yes, they can be earnest in their willingness to help, yet how joyful can it be to discover things for ourselves; the joy of wonder and the art of embracing the unknown. 
Rooted in Zen Buddhism, the Beginner’s Mind encourages us to approach life with fresh eyes, unburdened by preconceived notions (how difficult it that!) and to revel in the joy of discovery. This approach not only enriches our Yoga practice but infuses vitality into our lives.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind, there are few.” (Shunryu Suzuki)
Consider the beauty of a mind unshackled by expertise, where every pose, every breath becomes an opportunity to explore, learn, and develop in unconsidered ways. ‘And by taking this approach… you’ll start observing yourself and your life in a diffent manner, much like a primary school student with a project. You have a project. And you’re it.'( quote from my book,The Real Me).
Incorporating the Beginner’s Mind into Yoga can be as simple as embracing two fundamental asanas: Child’s Pose (Balasana) and Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
In Child’s Pose, we can reconnect with the sense of security and curiosity akin to a child exploring the world. Here, the body surrenders, and the mind & back-body opens, allowing a deep sense of wonder & release to permeate the practice. 
Performing Mountain Pose, we can stand tall and grounded, embodying the essence of a beginner ready to take a first step, ready to embark on a journey of self-discovery with a sense of awe and excitement.
The practice of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing) offers a profound way to explore the Beginner’s Mind. This breathing technique balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain, promoting mental clarity and emotional balance. Through this pranayama, allow & experience a sense of newfound wonder in the simplicity of breath, connecting deeply with the present moment. 
“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.” (Pema Chödrön) 
I love this.This wisdom reminds us that the Beginner’s Mind isn’t just about the self; it’s about extending the same curiosity and empathy to others, fostering deep and meaningful connections.In embracing the Beginner’s Mind through Yoga and life, we embark on a transformative journey where joy becomes meaning, and end, and a constant companion in each moment. 
Can we let go of what we think we know and approach every experience with wonder ?

Sarah Mills Oct 2023