Balancing Poses to Build Strength Stability
Acella Pharmaceuticals, LLC, is partnering with Lexi Hawks, an E-RYT 500 Hr Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher, to bring greater awareness to the importance of thyroid care and education. This post was sponsored by Acella Pharmaceuticals and should not be construed as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor about your individual medical situation.
Before I started practicing yoga, I would describe my life as a series of events that my mind would judge as good or bad. I spent a lot of time trying to get more of some things and less of other things. In a way, it seemed as though I was on a pendulum, and throughout the day, I was on a wild ride, swinging from one end to the other. I felt unsettled, scattered, and most certainly stressed. The ups and downs of "managing" (can we call it that?) life left me drained, tired, and not the kind of healthy I yearned for.
Once I started practicing yoga, the effects were almost immediate. After doing yoga postures,
breathing techniques and short meditations, there was a new sense of calm. The pendulum was
swinging a little slower, and a little slower, and a little slower. There have even been moments
where I’ve experienced the pause in the middle – I started to feel rested, energized and stable.
From my personal experiences with yoga and from teaching others yoga for more than 15
years, I can confidently say that yoga helps bring the mind and body into alignment, leaving one
better able to meet challenges with strength and grace.
Intrigued? Here are three yoga poses to help you slow down the pendulum, build strength and
perhaps pause in a moment of harmony. Give it a go, and let us know what you think in the
1. Tree Pose/Vrksasana
From a standing position with the feet parallel and hands on the hips, turn the left leg out to the left (external rotation through the left hip joint) and place the left heel on the right inner ankle bone. Keep the ball of the left foot on
the ground. Press the heel and the inner ankle bone together and allow this motion to center the body weight and to engage the leg muscles by lifting the muscles upward. Keep the hips balanced.
If your balance feels stable here, challenge yourself by drawing the left sole of the foot onto the
inner right calf. Press the sole of the foot firmly to the inner right calf.
If your balance still feels solid, further challenge yourself by drawing the sole of the left foot
above the right knee. Reach down with the left hand and grab the left ankle. Draw the foot high
and place the left heel on the upper right thigh, just below the groin. Press the sole of the left
foot firmly to the thigh muscle and counter press the thigh back into the sole of the foot. Be sure
to ground and root firmly through the standing leg’s heel.
If your balance feels challenged, place the hands on the back of chair or on a wall for support. If
your balance feels solid, try pressing the palms together at the center of the chest. If you feel
well-balanced, take the arms overhead. Let the breath remain full in this pose. If you lose
balance and fall out of the pose or jump around, try to keep a sense of humor. Laughter will
bring joy to the journey.
Repeat this pose on the other leg.
2. Eagle Pose/Garudasana
From a standing position, step legs
together and bend the ankles, knees and
hips as if sitting down into a chair. Lift the
right leg high and cross it over the left
thigh. Stack the knees in one line. Open
the arms to the sides, then cross them
over each other, left over right, bending
both elbows and lifting the forearms
toward the sky with both palms pressed
Gently squeeze the inner line of the legs and draw more weight onto the heel. If possible, wrap the right foot around the left calf (or modify the wrapping of the leg by placing the right toes on a yoga block next to the left foot.
Firmly squeeze the knees and elbows together, keeping joints stacked. Release into gravity and deepen the bend in the standing leg. Keep the elbows at shoulder height and drop the shoulders away from the ears.
To exit the pose safely, uncross the right leg and step it down to come back into a standing pose.
If your balance feels challenged, place the hands on the back of a chair or on a wall for support.
You can also try doing just the legs first (without the arms) and take the arms second (without
the legs). If your balance feels solid, try both together.
Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Warrior Three Pose/Virabhadrasana
From a standing position, place the left foot
back about 3 feet, hip distance apart, and
bring the palms to touch at the center of the
chest. Bend the right knee and lean the
upper body forward toward the front thigh.
Shift the weight into the right leg and lift the
back leg, keeping the hands at heart-center.
Straighten both legs firmly and flex the back
foot to extend energy through the heel. Be
sure both hips are in the same plane and
“squared” to the mat. See that the hip, knee
and toes of the lifted back leg face the
To exit the pose safely, bend the right knee and step back to a lunge. From there, step forward
and return to a standing pose.
If your balance feels challenged, place the hands on yoga blocks on the highest setting on the
floor or try placing the hands on the back of a chair for support. If your balance feels solid, try
extending the arms overhead in this balance pose.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Leg balancing postures are very challenging because they have the smallest foundation (one
foot). One must cultivate stillness and focus to achieve these postures. It’s important to take
support when learning balancing postures. Most of all, a sense of forgiveness, lightheartedness
and humor are critical when practicing these yoga postures. And hey, it’s not bad advice for life