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When it comes to yoga, finding balance is something that doesn’t just come overnight. I hear students say to me all the time “I have such terrible balance” – it’s just a question of patiently working through postures to strength certain areas of the body. Naturally everyone thinks of the core when it comes to finding balance and yes, that’s such an important part of it. Having a strong core will stabilise your structure from the inside out, giving a sense of uplift from the ground no matter what posture we are in. The strength of the core will also help keep your spine healthy, something anyone who has been to my class will know I talk about a lot.
As a yoga teacher I have a lot of respect for pilates as a practice, as it focuses on building those much deeper and subtle core muscles. Try this yoga workout of mine to help find those deeper core muscles. WATCH HERE.
Alongside the core work, it’s important to not forget about strength around the joints, like the ankles and shoulders when finding balance in the body. A strong core will of course help you, but if you’re in a one-legged standing posture then you’re going to want to have a solid standing leg, which will be helped by a strong ankle.
In yoga, especially vinyasa flow classes where a lot of people are there to test out their most advanced postures, I see a lot of frustration when students fall out of a pose. The biggest mistake that we make is to let that frustration take over and rather than set up the foundations of the balance properly, we tend to rush back into it. I see this all the time and of course I have very much been that person. What I have learned is that I gain nothing from rushing into a balance, so even if my teacher is counting the breaths and I only have one or two left, I’ll still set the pose up correctly and move into it gently and efficiently. That might mean that I barely make it into the pose before having to move on to the next, but I know that I was strengthening the foundations the whole time, which is what matters.
“Strengthening the foundations” – something that you might think only applies to yoga and fitness, but what about strengthening the foundations of our daily life. Having those few things in our routine that bring us back to finding balance, things that we always have in our bank of wellness, to be used at anytime to create balance in our life.
For example, deep breathing is a foundation tool I know I have and can use whenever and wherever I am, to cultivate calmness when I feel a little stressed. Another for me is food. Rob and I have a list on the fridge of our favourite healthy homemade dinners, so on those evenings we feel a little lazy and are tempted to eat something less nutritious just for the sake of it, rather than the pleasure, I look to our list and pick something from there. In the same way I’ll do with snacks, having a little stash of balanced snacks that I can reach to when I’m peckish without mindlessly going for a high-sugar quick fix. I usually opt for blueberries, nuts, a nut/grain bar or a packet of pea-based snack Yushoi, which are gluten free, suitable for vegetarians and contain no artificial colours or flavours – very handy to have in the cupboard or in my bag when I have a hectic day in London.
Building these foundations and strengthening the practice of them is what helps me stay on track. I love to nourish my mind and body with good practices and habits, but just like any human, I get lazy sometimes and I fall out of routine, so it’s important for me to have these.
How do you find balance on and off the mat? What does balance mean to you?
Love, Cat x