I love the challenges of unsupported balances and include lots of them in my sequences. I find that at different times my balance changes – sometimes I have it and other times, it’s not so good but it’s the same with all of us! For me, instead of frustration, I open up a line of enquiry which, over time, has given me a sense of knowing and understanding all those subtle things that put my body slightly out of sorts. When balance is really difficult I KNOW that something else is going on and often it’s been related to hormonal changes. This could be premenstrual for example or menopausal (many post menopausal women find balance very difficult). It could also be related to feeling unwell or general life related stressors.
Mentally, for those who often feel scattered and anxious or find it hard to concentrate, with practice, balances are a great way to stop the mind wandering. They instil a sense of focus since generally, most people cannot think about what they are planning to have for dinner and balance at the same time!
Another reason we MUST practice balances regularly is for strength – core strength and otherwise. Balance is one of the first things to go as we age. With one leg (or even a toe tip slightly) off the floor, the body gets an amazing “weight-bearing” workout because the centre of gravity shifts and we are no longer physically centred. This means that the standing leg is often supporting maybe 10 times our actual body weight.
In terms of core strength, you can try this: Press your left hand into your abs and lift your right leg off the floor. If you can, then try bringing the thigh to the chest and holding it with the right hand. You might notice that when the leg is unsupported lots of your abdominal muscles switch on, but when you support the leg with your hand, many of those muscles switch off. Let the leg go and they switch on a again. Interesting don’t you think?
The pose Kate and I are doing here is one of the best hamstring releases to be had and far better than most that are really just aggressive over-stretching.
So many phyiscal benefits so definitely worth being frustrated for!