You don’t have to be a yogi to reap the benefits of yoga. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body.
Don’t be intimidated by the yoga terminology and the complicated poses. With patience, you can learn along the way while on it, understand the applications of the body anatomy in each pose, the meaning of it and most importantly, enjoy the experience of it!
Here are 3 tips on how to stabilise your Asanas (poses).
- Maintaining a Consistent Breath
It is important to have full awareness of breathing, mastering the control over one breath (prana) that denotes a force in constant motion, through inhalation and exhalation, combined with retention. The combination of Pranayama with Asana – means practicing yoga asana with breath awareness, shifts breath control from the brainstem to the cerebral cortex. It plays an important role in thinking, perceiving and processing information, which is what we call consciousness.
You may want to practise Pranayama before getting into poses. One of which is the Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama). It is particularly effective because it balances the left and right hemispheres of the body and brain and brings your life force energy, or prana, into balance.
- The practice of Drishti – A Sanskrit word for “focused gaze” or “vision”
There are different types of drishti, which allow the gaze to be directed in each pose in such a way that the energy in the pose is maximised. The practice of drishti come from the Ashtanga yoga methodology, founded by Sri K Pattabhi Jois. In his book Yoga Mala he states that the Sun Salutation in particular if done without the proper rules, including the specified drishti, are mere exercises and not true yoga. There are 9 types of Drishti:
- Angushthamadhyam drishti – look at the middle of the thumb. Commonly used in Utkatasana (chair pose), Urdhva hastasana (upward salute), and Virabhadrasana A (warrior one pose).
- Nasagram drishti – look at the tip of the nose. Often used in Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed plank pose) and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward-facing dog pose).
- Hastagram drishti – hands or tips of the fingers. Example of Poses: Utthita Trikonasana (extended triangle pose) and Utthita Parshvakonasana (extended side angle pose).
- Parsva Drishti – look to the left side. Poses: Utthita Parsvasahita (Extended hand-to-big toe pose) and Ardha Matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose)
- Parsva Drishti – look to the right side.
- Urdhva drishti – look upward or outward. Example of a pose: Virabhadrasana B (warrior two pose)
- Nabhi chakra drishti – look at the navel. Pose: Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog)
- Padayoragram drishti – look at the feet or toes, commonly used in most forward bends poses.
- Bhrumadhya drishti – look between the eyebrows. Common Pose: Matsyendrasana (fish pose).
‘One directs the gaze and flow of energy towards nine various points (nava-drishti). The energy which is directed towards the gaze also stimulates the energy channels (nadis), the energy centers (chakras), and encourages prana to flow through the nadis.’ – Petri Räisänen
- To have a clear mind
Try not to get distracted and pay attention to the position and movement of the head because an important part of our equilibrium system is located in the inner ear. In relation to the first point, keeping your breath calm and steady can help a lot to stabilize mind and body as well. Move into your balance poses slowly and consciously, as abrupt movements can shake us out of balance. When needed, you can always use your hands, a wall, or a block for support to gain stability.
Balance poses can be hard and frustrating for some, especially in the beginning. With consistent practice, one day, you will find yourself doing it with a big smile on your face, even when you fall!
Thanks for reading. Enjoy Yoga everyone!