Return to Balance
In order for us to function at our best, we need balance. Every day, we’re constantly expending emotional, mental, and bodily energy managing what goes on around us.
Many everyday activities force us to unwittingly give our energy away, leaving us feeling drained, foggy, and agitated.
Yoga techniques are big on balance.
In fact, ancient traditions all over the globe harped on the importance of living a life centered on balance. If you look at nature, for example, it hinges on a delicate but powerful balance that acts as a base state and point of reference.
When nature is in balance, everything is working as it should, and the systems thrive.
An individual out of balance is easily pulled this way and that by the energies around them. They are often tired for no apparent reason, have very little patience, often lack spatial awareness, and have dull senses, among other things. It’s important to recognize that our bodies are themselves tiny ecosystems that require a balance.
One of the primary purposes of yoga is to return the body’s equilibrium to its natural or optimized state. This routine capitalizes on that, utilizing a series of asanas, mudras, and other techniques that focus on bringing the body back to a grounded, balanced place of being.
1. Begin in Mountain Pose (tadasana).
2. Raise your arms until your body makes a capitol Y shape. Your palms should face up. Breathe deeply through your nose three times, visualizing the air entering your core, filling your entire body with warmth and light. Don’t focus on anything but your breath.
3. Slowly lower yourself into a squat by bending at the knees. Keep your back and shoulders straight as you do. As you do this, bring your hands together and lower them into the anjali mudra (prayer pose) in front of your chest. This should all be a fluid motion.
4. Your knees should be bent at roughly a 90 degree angle. Maintain your squat, and as you do so, take a deep breath while pushing your hands out in front of you, palms out, index fingers and thumbs touching.
5. Hold this position for the span of four complete breaths, raise up into Mountain Pose, and then repeat steps 1 – 4.
6. From Mountain Pose, lower yourself into Butterfly Pose. Continue to breathe evenly and deeply as you bend forward at the waist. Stretch your hips and legs in this manner three times, holding the stretch for 15 seconds each time.
7. While still in Butterfly Pose, bring your hands together and form matangi mudra. Focus on your breath as you once again visualize energy pouring into your body and filling your core. Engage the four-fold breath for two minutes in this position.
8. Raise into Mountain Pose, then flow naturally into Tree Pose. Spend two minutes balancing on each leg. Keep your breath as even as possible, and maintain poise with your back.
9. Now stand with your feet shoulder width apart, bring your elbows to your side with your arms out, hands in the mushti mudra. After a minute of steady breathing, begin to lunge in place, spending about 10 seconds in each lunge. Alternate between each leg, and perform 7 for each.
11. After the final lunge, perform the Revolved Lunge Pose (parivrtta anjaneyasana) and hold for about twenty seconds. Repeat for the other leg.
12. Give your legs a much-needed rest by rolling onto your back and into the Corpse Pose. Continue to form pranayama in this position for a minute before rolling onto your stomach.
13. Raise into Sphinx Pose (salamba bhujangasana). While in this pose, perform ten leg lifts with each leg. Once finished, move into a traditional push-up position, and hold this position for roughly 30 seconds. Maintain your steady breathing.
14. Return to Sphinx Pose, and exhale completely. Slowly use the tips of your feet and the strength of your forearms to lift your midsection and legs off of the ground. In this position, perform the Diaphragm Lock (Uddiyana Bandh). Maintain the lock for roughly 30 seconds.
15. Release the lock, bringing your knees forward so you can get your legs under you. Push into a standing position, bringing your hands together in the Anjali Mudra (prayer pose).
16. Perform two minutes of pranayama in this position, allowing your body to release any tension it may have.
This routine can easily be expanded in certain areas for a more intense workout and overall effect. Sometimes I perform a set of pushups on step 13, for example. As you get more comfortable with your body, you will find the natural inclination to expand on the routine. The desire to push yourself comes naturally, especially when you are coming from a centered, balanced state.
Leave a comment and let us know what you think of the routine. I’ve personally been using variations of this routine for years, to great effect. It is the perfect accompaniment to any workout, just make sure to stretch thoroughly before taking it on after a full workout.