On Balance

The scale (specifically a two-pan beam balance) is one of the oldest symbolism in mankind for balance. The scale is an instrument that determines the mass of a body under gravitation. When the mass of an object placed on one end exceeds the other end, it lowers while the other tilts up, forming a diagonal line. If the mass of an object on one end exceeds the sum of both the mass of the scale and another object placed on the other end, the scale topples.

Personally, I find there to be a lot of similarities between the scale and our human body. The human body, too, is an instrument, albeit a complex and intelligent one. Not only does the human body aligns or works with forces of gravity and handles physical objects, like the balancing scale, it also supports the influences by energies (forces) in the form of thoughts and emotions.

One of the most fundamental skill in Yoga asanas is balance. In balancing poses, we work to align our body with the earth’s gravity.  Anatomically speaking, our centre of gravity (COG) rests somewhere around our second sacral vertebrae (it may vary from different individuals). Yet, since we are always in a state of change and movement, our COG which determines our stability changes. Asanas such as Virabhadrasana III develops one’s ability to balance on one leg, which essentially challenges us into an uncomfortable position as we find ways to engage our core and muscles to centre ourselves.

In Virabhadrasana III, the arms, neck, torso and the raised leg are in a straight line parallel to the floor, gaze facing down at the ground. The arms and the raised leg extend and pull away in opposite directions.  The hamstrings and abdominals should be flexible and fully engaged. Both hip points are even and squared. The lower legs and standing foot are active as they form the foundational support in this posture. Heels are grounded firmly into the floor. Just as in the balancing of the scale, the weight of the body should be distributed evenly between both ends, with the “fixed” standing leg as the pivot point.  

Some of the benefits to the practice of Virabhadrasana III include better alignment in the spine, improved posture and of course, balance. The beautiful thing about yoga asanas is how it directly addresses the imbalanced conditions in the environment we live in today. Yoga asanas help us find the state of equilibrium within our bring, to strengthen our instrument (the body) so that under overwhelming conditions, we do not topple like the scale.


Yu Ting Ong (YTT 200hr, August 2017)