Balancing Poses

 

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Straight Tree Pose

Straight Tree Posture View

Begin standing straight, lengthening up through spine, neck and top of head. Exhale. Inhale bringing hands up overhead and lift up onto your toes. slightly lifting the chin. Repeat about 8 times while progressively lengthening inhalation with breath hold after inhalation. Lengthen the breath hold from 2 to 6 seconds.

 

Full Tree

Tree Pose (Vrksasana) View


Stand grounded in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Shift your weight onto the left leg. Slowly bend your right leg, and place the soul of the foot onto the inner side of the standing leg, on the ankle, calf or thigh. Press through the standing foot, and lengthen the torso. Bring your hands together into Namaste mudra (prayer position). Breathe naturally. Hold for as long as you feel comfortable. When you are ready to release, bring your foot back down gently and alternate sides.

Benefits: Develops awareness, balance, concentration, and poise. Strengthens legs, ankles and feet, and hips
Contraindications: headache, vertigo. knee, foot or hip injury

 

Eagle Pose or Standing Spinal Twist (Garudasana)Eagle Pose or Standing Spinal Twist (Garudasana) View


Standing, begin shifting weight onto left foot. Bend knees as if you are about to sit in a chair. Lengthen spine. Lift right leg and cross it over (and around) left leg. Right thigh is above left knee. If possible, hook right ankle behind the left lower calf. If that is not possible, place top of right foot on left calf or press it into the inner left calf. Squeeze thighs together for stability. Keep hips squared to front of the mat, and bend deeper.
Bring your arms out to the side, open the chest and cross left elbow over right in the center of the front of your body. Twist arms and bring palms together. This may be difficult. It requires practice. Relax your shoulders down and gently raise elbows to shoulder height, and slowly press hands forward to open area between shoulder blades. Feel the lower part of your body being drawn downward while the top lifts and lengthens. Hold pose for several deep breaths. Slowly unwind and repeat on the other side.

Benefits: stretches and strengthens hips, IT band, shoulders, and upper back. 
Improves concentration and balance. Increased circulation to all joints. Improved digestion and elimination.
Contraindications: Knee injuries
Modifications: use a wall to support backside. If you can’t hook foot around calf, put a block under the raised foot. Advanced version: move into forward bend with elbows in front of knees. Bring thumbs up to third eye (forehead). Eagle pose requires full attention.

  

 

Half Lotus Tree Pose

Half Lotus Tree Pose (Ardha Padmasana Vrksasana) View


(standing, hip-opener, balancing posture) Stand in mountain pose (tadasana), arms at your sides. Shift weight and ground down into left foot. Gently bend right knee up to your chest. Raise right foot, carefully bring right foot as high as possible on the front of left thigh or hip with the sole of the foot facing upward. If there is knee pain, allow right knee to drop further down (without forcing). Grasp right foot with left hand, draw hips forward, and lengthen the spine. Bring right arm behind the back and grasp left arm at the elbow. Focus your gaze about 3 feet infront of you on the floor or wall. Hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, carefully draw the foot away from the body and to the floor. Stand tall in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and then repeat on the other side.

Modifications: Keep steady by practicing lying on the floor or standing against a wall. For a challenge, bring hands together in anjali mudra (prayer hands) and close the eyes.
Benefits: Stretches groin muscles and hamstrings. Builds strength in the core and the standing leg. Increases balance and concentration.
Contraindications: Recent or chronic knee or hip injury. As with all balancing poses, avoid if you are experiencing headaches, low blood pressure, if you are lightheaded or dizzy. Be sure to practice within your own range of limits and abilities.

 

Bound Half-Lotus Forward Bend

Half Bound Lotus Forward Bend (Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana) View


Also known as: ‘Standing Half Bound Lotus, or ‘Half Bound Lotus Standing Forward Bend’. This pose is a deep hip opener and intense hamstring stretch that is not recommended for beginners. Before attempting this pose, make sure there is adequate hip and hamstring flexibility as well as body awareness to avois injury.                  Some postures that help build up to this pose include: Lotus Pose (Padmasana) Head-of-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana), One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), and Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana).

Begin in Half Lotus Tree Pose (Ardha Padmasana Vrksasana) seen above. The right arm reaches behind and holds left elbow as seen above or grasp the right toes. Inhale, lift left arm straight up. Exhale, fold forward from the hips, left hand to the mat or a block. Concentrate on bringing your forehead to your shin and chin to chest. Hold for several breaths. Inhale, press down through left foot and lift to an upright position. Unbind right arm and gently release foot down to floor. Come back into Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and repeat on the opposite side.

Benefits: stretches and strengthens hips, hamstrings, shoulders, legs and knees. It wrings out the liver and spleen, stimulates the digestive system and improves circulation. This balancing pose also strengthens concentration and builds focus.      Contraindications: recent or chronic knee or hip injury, current headache, glaucoma, high or low blood pressure, or if lightheaded or dizzy.

  

Bound Extended Side Angle Pose (Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana)Bound Extended Side Angle Pose (Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana) View


(part one of bird of paradise seen below)
Start in extended side angle pose (utthita parsvakonasana) with legs strong and grounded. Keep front knee bent over ankle. Bring the left arm over left ear, palm facing down. Front arm can extend to floor on outside or inside of front leg. Bring left arm straight up and then drop left hand behind back. Bring the right arm underneath right thigh and the right hand behind back to meet the left hand. Hold left wrist with the right hand and straighten left arm behind your back. Open chest and gaze upwards.

Benefits: Opens the side of the body from feet to fingers. Energizes the body and strengthens abdominals, legs, knees and ankles. Stretches hips, groins and hamstrings.
Contraindications: Recent or chronic injury to the hips, knees, neck or shoulders. Headaches, insomnia, blood pressure irreglarities. If you have a neck injury or pain, keep your gaze straight ahead rather than gazing upward. Be sure to work within your own range of limits and abilities.

  

Bird of Paradise (Svarga Dvidasana)Bird of Paradise (Svarga Dvidasana) View


Begin in bound extended side angle (seen above) Turn your gaze to floor. Keeping the bind, step back foot forward, feet parallel at the front of mat. Shift weight onto free leg. Slowly straighten body upright, keeping the bind, lifting bound leg up. Steady yourself, extend and straighten bound leg. Gaze over opposite shoulder. To come out, gently lower bound leg to floor. Step feet together. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits: strengthens legs. 
stretches groin
/hip. 
Improves Balance and flexibility Contraindications: serious hip or thigh injury, knee injury. Tips: This is an advanced pose that requires flexibility (which will increase with practice). Stop whenever you need to release the bind. You can use a strap instead of binding with your hands. You may first want to try and master the following poses to work up to it.

 

 

Chair Pose

Chair Pose or Awkward Pose (Utkatasana) View


Stand in Tadasana. To keep feet properly aligned is essential for therapeutic alignment. Knees and toes are always facing forward.
Inhale raising your arms perpendicular to the floor and join the palms. Exhale, bend the knees, bringing yourself as close to sitting as possible. Keep the tailbone tucked as you lean forward slightly for balance. Keep the inner thighs parallel, press down weight into the heels, keeping length in the spine. Release any muscle tension in shoulders and face. Keep stomach muscles engaged and tight to take stress away from back muscles.Stay here for about 30 seconds or longer if possible, then lift to standing with an inhale.

Benefits: Strengthens arms, legs, abdominal muscles and spine. Stretches ankles, feet, pelvis, shoulder, chest and shins. Stimulates abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart. Therapeutic for low-back pan, flat feet, lumbago, sciatica, menstral cramps, joint pain, arthritic conditions in knees and hips. Helps align knee meniscus.
Contraindications: headache, low blood pressure, vertigo. knee, foot or hip injury

  

Half Moon Pose

Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) View


Start in trikonasana (triangle pose) with right hand on hip. Bend front knee and move body forward, placing right fingertips on floor about 12 inches in front of right foot. Straighten front leg while raising back leg parallel to floor. Stack hips, opening front of body, raising left hand. Align arms, gaze up towards raised hand and hold. Repeat on opposite side. Variations: A block can be used under right hand. This posture can be done against a wall to stabilize balance.

Benefits: increases balance. strengthens and stretches arms, legs, chest, spine, shoulders, abdominals, and glutes.
Contraindications: neck problems, headaches, low blood pressure, insomnia

 

revolved half moon poseRevolved Half Moon Pose (Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana) View

 

 

 

Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III)Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III) View


Also known as Tuladandasana or Balancing Stick. Stand in Extended Mountain Pose. Exhale, step left foot back, to high lunge while keeping your body weight forward on right foot. With right toes forward, ground through right foot. Reach hands upward, palms facing, align hips and shoulders with the front of the mat. Using core muscles, inhale and lift left foot while leaning arms and torso forward, hinging at the hips. Gaze down as you move forward, torso and left leg move parallel with the floor. Lengthening both legs without locking bottom knee. Keep hips level, arms forward and in line with head and neck. Breathe slowly and hold for 5-10 breaths. To come out, inhale, lift chest and place left foot back into Mountain Pose. Exhale, lower arms, and repeat on the left side.

Benefits: Stretches hamstrings, thighs, chest, shoulders, and arms. Strengthens core, abdomen, spine, pelvic floor. Improves posture, balance, and coordination. Calms the mind and reduces anxiety.
Contraindications: High blood pressure. Ankle, foot, knee, hip, or lower back injury. If pregnant, support with hands on chair.

 

 

Dancer Pose

Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana) View


Also known as Dancer Pose. Begin standing in tadasana. Shift weight to right leg. Bend left knee and grasp inside of left foot with left hand. Gently bring left foot and right arm up and torso forward. Balance, deepen the backbend. Hold 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Fix your gaze on something still in front of you, to aid in balance.

Benefits: strengthens legs and core. improves balance, stretches shoulders and chest, strengthens the legs and ankles
Contraindications: low blood pressure

 

Balancing butterflyBalancing Butterfly Pose View


Begin standing with feet together. Bend the knees and squat down. Place hands on the floor in front of your feet. Turn knees outward while keeping balls of the feet and heels together as shown. Lift the head and torso up and bring hands to knees. Balance here or bring hands together in front of the heart. Hold position and breathe deeply for several breaths. Release by bringing knees back together and stand.

Benefits: improves balance, strengthens muscles in the feet, stretches arches, opens the hips.
Contraindications: Low back, knee, foot injury

  

 

garland squatGarland Pose or Full Squat (Malasana) View


1)Bring feet fairly close together (wider if necessary). Exhale- squat, keeping heels on floor if possible or place folded blanket under heels for support. Separate thighs slightly wider than hips. Exhale, lean torso forward and down between thighs. Press elbows against inside of knees, opening the chest. Bring palms to together in Anjali Mudra. Lengthen spine.
2)To deepen pose: Reach arms and torso forward, allow shins to lean into armpits.
3)To deepen further: Sweep hands around sides and back, grasping ankles and bring forhead towards or touching mat.
Hold any or all of these 3 positions for 3-12 breaths. Inhale, carefully straighten knees to standing.

Benefits: Stretches ankles, groins, hips and back torso. Tones belly and aids digestion
Contraindications: Use caution for low back or knee injuries

 

 

Half Boat Pose

Half Boat Pose (Ardha Navasana) View


Sit on the floor, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your hands on your sides. With your back straight and head in line with the body, lift up through the chest and lean back to about a 45 degree angle. Raise feet to the height of the knees, keeping shins parallel to the floor. Keep neck and shoulders relaxed. Once you feel balanced, you may choose to reach the arms forward or up with palms facing each other. Hold the pose for as long as you can comfortably or try a repetition of inhaling with the feet on the mat, and exhaling, lifting into the pose.

Benefits: Strengthens the abdomen and core, hips, and lower back.
Contraindications: Recent abdominal surgery, heart problems, back injury, menstruation, pregnancy.

 

Full Boat Pose

Full Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana) View


Sit on the floor with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your hands on your sides. With your back straight and head in line with the body, lift up through the chest and lean back to about a 45 degree angle. Keeping legs fairly straight and together, raise the legs as high as is comfortable. Keep neck and shoulders relaxed. Once you feel balanced, you may choose to reach the arms forward or up with palms facing each other. Hold the pose for as long as you can comfortably or try a repetition of inhaling with the feet on the mat, and exhaling, lifting into the pose.

Benefits: Strengthens the abdomen and core, hips, and lower back.
Contraindications: Recent abdominal surgery, heart problems, back injury, menstruation, pregnancy.

 

Balancing Table Pose

Balancing Table Pose View


Begin in table pose, shoulders over hands and hips over knees.. Inhale- lift right leg (foot flexed), then left arm up, both parallel to floor- reach fingers forward and foot back. Keep torso contracted and steady. Head is neutral, gaze down to mat. Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths. Release, slowly exhale back to table position. Repeat on other side. To protect knees you may want to place a folded blanket under them.
Alternative: Make pose dynamic by reaching foot and arm out on inhale and folding knee to chest and arm inward during exhale.

Benefits: improves balance, posture, memory, and coordination. strengthens core and back muscles, lengthens spine.
Contraindications: Recent or chronic injury to the knees, back, arms or shoulders. 

 

One Handed Tiger

One Handed Tiger (Eka Hasta Vyaghrasana) View


Begin in table pose (hands below shoulders, knees below hips, head in neutral position). Inhale, reach right foot up towards the ceiling with the knee bent and the spine gently arching. Looking straight ahead, shift weight onto right hand. Carefully reach left hand back and hold the inside of the right ankle. Keep arms straight. Carefully lift back leg higher.
Breathe and hold for a few breaths. Then exhale, release back into Table pose. Repeat on other side.

Benefits: stretches the shoulder and front thigh, strengthens arms and tones kidneys. Increases energy, stimulates adrenal glands.
Contraindications: injury to back, hips, shoulders or knees.
Modifications: place a folded blanket under the knees for protection.

 

One-Legged Half Wheel

One-Legged Half Wheel View


Lay on your back, arms along sides, palms down. Bend knees, place feet flat on mat. Walk feet as close to buttocks as comfortably possible. Turn heels out slightly (outside edges of feet parallel with edges of mat. Thighs parallel, ground feet and palms down and lift hips. Keep knees directly over ankles. Place hands on lower back for support, elbows resting on mat. Rock weight from side to side, pull shoulder blades closer together. Step feet together, press firmly left foot into ground, raise your right leg up. Hold for five deep breaths, actively pressing left foot into mat, lift hips. Lower right foot mat repeat on other side. Gently lower hips down to mat. Counter-pose by hugging knees to chest to release lower back.

Benefits: increases flexibility of spine, deeply stretches chest, shoulders, and back of neck. stimulates thyroid gland, abdominal organs, improves digestion, reduces fatigue, anxiety, stress, headache and insomnia. Has both a calming and energetic effect on the body and mind.
Contraindications: Neck injury

 

Shoulder Stand

Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) View


Fold blankets and stack for support under shoulders. Then lie on the blankets with your shoulders supported, head on the floor. With arms on the floor alongside torso, bend knees and set feet on mat, heels close to buttocks. Exhale, pressing arms into floor, push your feet off floor, bringing thighs over torso and lift, bringing knees toward the face. Bend elbows, lay backs of upper arms on the blanket and spread palms against the lower back. Raise pelvis over shoulders, raise torso relatively perpendicular to floor. Walk hands up back (toward floor). Inhale, straighten knees, pressing heels up toward ceiling. Soften throat and tongue. Firm shoulder blades, move chest toward chin. Press backs of upper arms and tops of shoulders into blanket, lift upper spine away from floor. Hold pose for 30 seconds up to 3 minutes. To come out, exhale, bend knees to chest, roll your back slowly and gently onto the floor.

Benefits: Stretches shoulders and neck. Calms the mind, relieve stress and mild depression. Stimulates the thyroid and abdominal organs, improves digestion. Reduces fatigue, alleviates insomnia. Therapeutic for asthma, infertility and sinusitis.
Contraindications: diarrhea, headache, high blood pressure, menstruation, neck injury. Use caution under care of experienced teacher if not done before or if pregnant.

  

Side Plank

Side Plank (Vasisthanasana) View

 

Balancing Bear PoseBalancing Bear Pose (Merudandasana) View

 

 

 

mayurasana, peacock posePeacock Pose (Mayurasana) View

 

 

 Astavakrasana

Astavakrasana View

 

 

 

balanceBhujapidasana View

 

 

lolasanaPendant Pose (Lolasana) View

 

 

 

scalepose, tolasanaScale Pose (Tolasana) View

 

 

 

Firefly poseFirefly Pose (Tittibhasana) View

 

 

scorpion poseScorpion Pose (Vrschikasana) View

 

 

 

Eka Pada Galavasana

Flying Crow Pose (Eka Pada Galavasana) View