Taking your yoga poses and practice off the mat to develop balance and awareness in all areas of life. Living a balanced life has become quite the buzz term these days, but what does living a balanced life really mean? In a culture that maintains such a hectic pace and has a hard time being still for even a short period of time, many of us often only become aware that our bodies and lives are not working because we have been literally stopped by illness or injury. Life has a wise way of resetting that which is not sustainable.
So how can a regular yoga practice help us in living a balanced life and staying healthy? Could it be possible to cultivate a bit more awareness in our day to day life so that we are able to make the changes needed before we are led to an injury, illness, depression, or other difficulties? At its core, yoga is about awareness and connection. As we learn to slow down, connect with our breath, and finally feel what is happening in our bodies, we are able to know and respect when we need to take a break from an activity or make a shift in a certain area of our life.
One of my favourite quotes is “Everything about you is related to everything else. You cannot change one thing without changing everything.” Charles Einstein. This is a beautiful idea: if we work on one area of our lives, we are inevitably affecting all of the others. By working with isolated activities, we shift how we live in all of the areas of our life. Yoga poses don’t need to be performed just on a mat. By incorporating simple versions of them into our daily routines, it is possible to begin to develop greater awareness in everything we do.
Below are 3 standing yoga poses and variations of each that can easily be practiced waiting for the bus, in line at the bank, during a quick break at work, or whenever you have a free moment. Incorporating moments of awareness into your life will eventually help you to know when you are out of balance sooner, so that you can maintain a baseline of health that allows you to be more consistently engaged in your life without having to take long breaks to recover from injury or burn-out. Don’t feel embarrassed, everyone else is on their phone texting anyway, they won’t notice you practicing your yoga!
Shift your weight to one foot and pick up the other foot with your palm turned outwards and your thumb facing back behind you. Firm your abdominal muscles and slightly tuck in your tailbone to ensure your lower back is not collapsing forward into a sway back position(lordosis). Align your hips and bring your knees together. Keep your spine long and your chest open. Pick a visual point ahead of you to focus your gaze on and help balance you. If you want to make it more challenging, try closing your eyes. Bring your awareness back to your breath.
3. Tree Pose(Vrksasana)
Shift your weight onto one foot and bring the other foot so that the sole of your foot is touching either your ankle or shin. Firm your abdominal muscles and slightly tuck in your tailbone to maintain a neutral spine position in your lower back. Suction your standing leg hip into its socket and align your hips with each other(ie. make sure one is not poking out to the side). Find a visual point to focus your gaze on. Rest your hands at your sides. Become aware of you breath.
Katrina Sovio is a registered physiotherapist and yoga teacher. She teaches yoga at The Studio at Treloar Physiotherapy on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Her website is: www.kaviyoga.ca