Stable as a Tree – The Psychology of Balance

Balance, samata or samatva in Sanskrit, is a fundamental aspect of Yoga. A balanced approach of life includes an equal mood and the capability to feel the unity in the diversities. In order to be balanced, we have to be non-judgemental and treat others with impartiality, equanimity, equal kindness and compassion. One way to reach Balance in life is to practice balancing postures in a Yoga asana practice. Because body and mind are united, working constantly together: the imbalances in the physical are reflected in the mental and vice-versa.
It is something quiet frustating to lose our balance, in any sense. It goes beyond the instinctive fear of falling and strikes directly at the ego. We feel out of control when we lose our balance and ego hates to lose control, especially when other people are around to see it. So let’s get train our balance, but most importantly – get used to falling out of it, and being ok with that!

When you look at a tree, you only see the part that is above the ground: the trunk with the branches, the leaves, and maybe some beautiful happy birds singing… Trees seem to be just seated on the ground, but everyone knows the secret of the balance of the tree, it is his network of the invisible roots which anchor firmely the visible part in the earth.

In Balancing postures, you can also discover how to grow your roots in the ground and to stand, solid as a tree. Balancing postures can be both pleasant, challenging, and even frustating. Even simple poses can produce deep effects. They are designed to improve your sense of balance, attention, strength, confidence, coordination, alignment, calmness, and your relation to the earth. I often talk about: “the relationship with the ground, the constant conversation between your feet and Planet Earth” :).
Balancing asanas also have therapeutic applications, as they can re-educate some muscular groups and deep tissues and therefore be beneficial for people suffering from lower back issues.
By improving your physical balance in a natural way, you can expect a more balanced mind and a better concentration. When you master these postures, you can experiment a feeling of confidence, joy and fulfilment.

Everyday life can be demanding and stressful. If you are not firmely grounded, related to the earth, you may feel pushed to imbalance. ‘Related to earth’, means you are firmely centered with flexibility: you know who you are, and what you want, you have the feeling you can reach your goals in your life.

A good way to strenghthen your link with earth is to improve your physical sense of balance, which helps to synchronise the movements of arms and legs, and gives you the balance. The sense of balance is related to the inner ear. The ears informs you about your position in space. The ears are also connected to the social space, if you are not well balanced, you may feel uncomfortable in your social life. To strenghten the link with the earth could help you. It is only when you are able to stay still, steady, in balance, that you are also able to move freely in this world.

*Imagine for a moment, you are a tree, and ask yourself:

– Where are my roots?
– Are my roots nourishing me?
– Are my roots strong?
– Are my roots tangling up with some other roots?
– Do I feel supported?
– Do I feel capable to grow ?
– If no, what is blocking me to grow?
– How would I like to grow?
– What can I do to grow more ?


Here some easy balancing postures for beginners to try, to test our sense of balance, our sense of alignment,our relation to the Ground…

-‘The Warrior against the Wall’, Virabhadrasana III variation :

This asana improves your balance and your stability, strenghten the legs, arms and shoulders, stretching the thighs, front and back, and the hips. As any other one-legged balancing postures, it improves attention and concentration.

*In Sanskrit, Vira means ‘hero’, bhadra means ‘favorable’ .

—–+ Adjust yourself to get your legs perpendicular, your arms and torso parallel to the floor. Breathing freely with your nose for 6 to 8 counts (you can add a short pause between the inhalation and the exhalation).

Virabhadrasana III

-‘Balancing Cat’ :

This Asana strengthen the muscles among the spine, arms and shoulders and open the pelvis, improving attention and concentration, providing a feeling of confidence.

—–+ Hands are underneath the shoulders, palms flat on the floor, stretch your arms but do not lock your elbows. Knees underneath the hips. Perform the opposite side.

-‘The Tree’, Vrksasana :

This asana improves balance, stability and calmness, strengthens the legs, opens the hips, improves attention, and a feeling to be rooted as a tree :).

*In Sanskrit , Vrksa means ‘tree’.

—–+ If you feel like, you can perform some spontaneous movement, just trust, smile and move your arms, change your look, even move your chest, just like a tree would move in the wind…  feel a sense of freedom in the upper body, to ground even more your roots!

-‘Karate Kid’ :

This pose improves stability, strengthens legs, arms and shoulders. Like the other one-legged postures, improves attention and produces a calming effect on body and mind.
—–+ Keep looking forward, at the skyline, and if you feel like challenging yourself and have some fun, close your eyes for few seconds 😉

-‘Dancing Shiva Pose’, Natarajasana :
This asana improves balance, strengthens legs , stretches shoulders and thighs, provides a feeling of determination, the balance is hold by the equilibrium of the opposite forces, one pushing backward (the foot pushing the the hand) , and the intention to lengthen forward with the opposite arm. Looking at the skyline… Feel the beauty of this pose…
—–+ The Concept of ‘opposite forces’ is very important to get, as you apply this to almost all Asanas (for example: Tadasana: you push into the floor with your feet while you imagine someone is pulling you by your hair on the top of your skull, to lengthen the spine, and find the right alignment)
What is important to realize is that we need our full attention to perform a balancing pose. There is no faking it. The moment we lose our focus, we fall over. Standing on one foot, we have to drop unnecessary thoughts to focus on our task. Alertness and calmness are required. To find the balance, we need to align our body’s center of gravity with earth’s gravitational field. We place ourselves in a physical equilibrium with the fundamental force of nature. Actually, we find our balance in the imbalance, we constantly have to readjust our posture, to do some very small but necessary movement with our standing foot, some muscular corrections.

When successful, it brings not only our flesh and bones into balance but also our nerve impulses, emotions and consciousness. Then we can feel calm. Equilibrium is not something you can reach by force, it is something that just happen to you, when you relax, when you listen and when you are ready for it…

It is Equanimity. It is Harmony.
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