10 asanas to start your Balance properly

To begin with we always do 10 sets of suryanamaskar (right & left) as a part of our routine warm up exercise. This gets our body going through its full range of motion. This routine will concentrate on developing our balance and excising all those small muscles that help in our stability. It consists of 10 asanas performed in this order.

  1. Tadasana (Palm tree pose)
  2. Extended hand to big toe pose (Utthia hasta Padangustasana)
  3. Half moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
  4. Lord of dance pose (Natrajasana)
  5. Reverse Warrior Pose
  6. The triangle pose (Trikonasana)
  7. Side plank pose (Vasisthasana)
  8. Side reclining leg lift (Anantāsana)
  9. Supported shoulder stand (Sarvangasana)
  10. The tree pose (Vrikshasana)

How to do Tadasana (The Palm Tree Pose)?

  1. Stand erect with legs slightly apart with the hands on the sides.
  2. Raise the hand above the head and look straight.
  3. Interlock the fingers and turn it upwards. The palms should be facing the sky.
  4. The gaze can be adjusted to look slightly above the horizontal level.
  5. Take a deep breath and stretch the arms, shoulders and chest upwards.
  6. Raise the heels so that the weight of the body is borne by the toes.
  7. Stretch the whole body from the feet to the head.
  8. Remain in this position for few seconds.
  9. Bring down the heels while breathing out.
  10. This is one round. One can practice up to 10 rounds.
  11. During the whole practice the eyes should remain steadily fixed in front little above the head level.

Benefits

  1. Tadasana gives a good stretch to the arms, chest, abdomen, spine and the legs.
  2. It creates a sense of physical and mental balance. This sense of balance can be enhanced if one practices the same with closed eyes.
  3. Tadasana can help to increase height.
  4. Women during early stages of pregnancy can be benefited due to the gentle stretch of the abdomen.
  5. Tadasana can also be performed before and after inverted poses like Sirsasana to redistribute the blood in the body. During Sirsasana the blood accumulates in the head. Beginners especially can see their eyes getting red as it gets filled with excess blood. Tadasana when performed rapidly helps to bring down the accumulated blood from the head and redistributes it in the body.
  6. Tadasana is one of the poses used during the practice of Shankaprakshalana or the cleaning of the stomach and intestine. This quickly moves the saline water which one drinks during the process to the lower intestine and rectum, thereby quickening the cleansing process.


How to do utthia hasta padangustasan? (Extended hand to big toe pose)

  • Start in Tadasana
  • Take a point at eye level to focus on with a soft gaze. 
  • On an exhalation, bring the weight on your left foot and lift your right knee up. Reach with your right hand for your big toe. 
  • Firm your left hip in and lengthen your spine. Keep your shoulders blades firmly on the back, and your chest open. As you inhale, start extending your right leg out to the front, without compromising the length in spine. 
  • Stay for about 5 breaths, then as you inhale, bring your leg out to the right and stay for 5 more breaths. 
  • To come out of the pose, on an inhalation, bring your leg back to the center. As you exhale lower the foot back to the floor. 
  • Repeat on the other side. 

Benefits

  • Keeps the hips and hamstrings flexible.
  • Strengthens the legs, ankles and core muscles. 
  • Improves concentration and focus. 
  • Improves balance and stability.

How to do Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon Pose)

  1. Start in the Ardha Chandrasana This is done by balancing on your right foot and extending the left leg keeping it parallel to the ground. The right hand is extended forward. This is the Ardha Chandrasana pose.
  2. Now, turn your head downwards and look towards the floor. Bring down the right hand to touch the floor with your extended fingers.
  3. Twist your torso and simultaneously raise the left hand with the palm pointing upwards.
  4. In the process, also turn your head to look upwards or towards the raised left palm.
  5. Adjust your spine and hips to become comfortable in this position. Remember to twist or revolve the torso to attain this final pose. Remain in this final position for as long as you are comfortable.
  6. To release the pose, bring down the left arm. Bring back the left leg to the ground and come back to the standing position.
  7. Repeat the same by balancing on the left foot and extending your right legs horizontal to the ground.
  8. You must have noticed the difference between Ardha Chandrasana and Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana. In Ardha Chandrasana, you extend the the right hand upwards when balancing on the right foot. But in Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana, it is the left hand which is raised upwards while balancing on the right foot. This results in the required twist of the torso, compressing and toning the abdominal organs.

Benefits

  1. Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana or revolved half-moon pose creates a twist of the abdomen. This tones the digestive and reproductive organs.
  2. It improves digestion and tones the liver.
  3. Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana stimulates your metabolism and detoxifies the body.
  4. It strengthens the ankles, the calf and the thigh and the hip muscles.
  5. It strengthens the rectus abdominis or the ABS muscles.
  6. Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana stretches the hamstrings and the groin and the leg muscles.
  7. It stretches the side body improving flexibility and strengthens the spine.
  8. It reduces anxiety and stress and gives a relaxed feeling.
  9. This pose is also a balancing pose. Staying in this posture for up to a minute improves the sense of body balance, thereby raising the level of confidence and awareness.

Contraindications

  1. Do this pose with caution if you suffer from any vertigo problem.
  2. If you have any back or spine injury, avoid this pose completely. Also, don’t do it if you have any shoulder or neck injury or problem.
  3. If you have any ankle or knee injury, do not do this pose.

How to do Natarajasana (The Lord of Dance Pose)

  1. Start in the standing position with feet together. Gaze at a point ahead of you steadily without straining.
  2. Bend the right knee and hold the right big toe with the right hand.
  3. Raise your right leg backwards in the air. Simultaneously raise the left hand in front of you to create the balance.
  4. Turn your right shoulder in such a way so that the right elbow points upwards.
  5. Remain in this position for as long as you are comfortable. Breathe normally throughout the practice. Maintain your concentration at a point in front of you. Be fully aware of the body balance. Steady the wanderings of the mind and focus purely on the sense of balance. As you practice, you will be able to remain in this pose for longer and longer periods of time. Start with 30 seconds and go up to 2 minutes.
  6. To release the pose, bring down the left arm and simultaneously release the right leg. Come back to the standing position.
  7. Repeat the same with the left leg and right hand raised.

 Benefits

  1. Natarajasana is a balancing pose. People who are right handed may find it easier with the right side leading. However, this asana should be practiced on both side to develop balance on both sides.
  2. Along with creating a sense of balance it helps to develop concentration and awareness. During the practice, the mind should not wander. It improves steadiness and stability of the mind.
  3. It strengthens the back muscles.
  4. Natarajasana strengthens the arms and shoulders.
  5. The leg muscles also get a good stretch with this pose.

 Contraindications

  1. Being a balancing asana, Natarajasana should not be done by those suffering from vertigo.  The cerebellum, at the back of the brain, controls the sense of balance. People with any damage to cerebellum should not attempt this pose.
  2. Those who suffer from weak heart or high blood pressure should avoid this pose.
  3. If you have any back injury or problem, do this pose with caution under expert guidance.
  4. If you have any ankle injury, do not do this pose.

How to do Parsva Virabhadrasana ( Warrior 3 Pose)?

  1. Stand on your mat with hands on the sides.
  2. Place your left leg forward about 2 – 3 feet with feet pointing straight ahead.
  3. Slowly bend your left knees so that the thighs make a 90 degrees angle with the fore legs.
  4. Let the right leg, pointing backwards, maintain an angle of about 45 degrees to the ground.
  5. Let the right hand rest on the right thighs.
  6. Raise the left hand upwards and simultaneously arch the spine forward. The chest is opened up and face and gaze is turned upwards. The left palm points straight to the sky.
  7. Remain in this pose for as long as you are comfortable. This is the final pose for Parsva Virabhadrasana.
  8. To release the pose, bring down the left hand and straighten the left leg. Bring the two feet together again.
  9. Rest for few breaths and repeat the same with the right leg forward.
  10. You can practice this with other variations Virabhadrasana I, II and III. Virabhadrasana is a series of yoga poses which develops confidence, energy and balance.

Benefits

  1. Parsva Virabhadrasana calms the mind.
  2. It brings balance to the body.
  3. Parsva Virabhadrasana energizes the body.
  4. It stretches the arms and opens up the hips.
  5. This asana opens up the chest and develops core strength.

Contraindications

  1. Parsva Virabhadrasna is an easy pose. Anyone can do it. However, if you are suffering from any injury to your knee, you should avoid it.

How to do Trikonasana (The Triangle Pose)?

  1. Stand erect with the feet about 3 feet apart with knees straight.
  2. Raise both the hands till they are in line with each other, parallel to the ground. Inhale when you are raising the hands.
  3. Now bend towards the right and slightly bend the knees, to touch the right foot with the hands. Look up at the left hand. Exhale when you are bending down to touch the foot. Keep the eye open throughout the practice.
  4. Return to the standing position.
  5. Repeat this with the left hand touching the left foot.
  6. This is one round.
  7. Practice as many rounds as is comfortable.

 Benefits

  1. Trikonasana gives flexibility of the back and spine.
  2. It stimulates the digestive fire and removes constipation.
  3. It massages the muscles and nerves in the pelvic region, relieving stiffness and mild pains.
  4. It tones all organs in the abdomen maintain the health of those organs.
  5. Trikonasana is a good workout which can get the blocked energies moving and can relieve depression.

How to do side plank pose?

  1. Press down through the right hand and raise your left hand. Keep your lower belly engaged and your tailbone long.
  2. Look up to your hand, or ahead of you. 
  3. Build up to stay in the pose for 5 breaths.
  4. To come out, exhale as you lower your left hand and pivot your feet back to Plank position.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits

  1. This is a great pose for strengthening and toning the arms, core and legs.
  2. It also tests your balance helping to improve focus and concentration.

How to do side reclining leg lift pose?

  1. Lie on the floor on your left side. Press actively through your left heel, flex the ankle, and use the outside of the foot to stabilize the position. Bend your right elbow and support your head in your left palm. Slide your elbow away from your torso to stretch the armpit.

2. Externally rotate the left leg so the toes point toward the ceiling, then bend and draw the knee toward your torso. Take hold of the left big toe with your index, middle finger, and thumb. Extend the leg up toward the ceiling on an inhale. Roll your left shoulder down. Press actively through both heels. Stay in the pose for 5-7 breaths, then release the leg, take a few breaths, and roll over onto your left side. Repeat for the same length of time.

BENEFITS

  1. Lying on the side causes asymmetrical diaphragmatic movement and pressure, therefore practicing Anantasana interrupts and brings into your awareness breathing patterns which can inform and enhance a pranayama practice. This asana also stretches the backs of the legs and the sides of the torso, and tones the belly.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

  1. Avoid practising this asana if you have pain in your neck or shoulders. If you have spondylitis, a slipped disc, or sciatica, practice this asana only under the guidance of an experienced teacher.

How to do Sarvangasana (Inverted Shoulder Stand Pose)?

  1. Start with the supine position, lying on your back in a relaxed way. Let the hands rest on the floor next to the body and breathe normally.
  2. Try to raise the legs slowly till the legs are almost 90 degrees to the floor.
  3. Now place the hands under the lower back at the waist level. Use the hands and elbows for support to raise your body up further.
  4. The breath should be held inside when you are raising the body to the vertical position
  5. Use the support of the hands to raise the trunk further up, till the whole body is vertical. At this stage the body weight rests on the shoulders. Hands and elbows remain as props to support and balance the body.
  6. In the final pose the body is vertical, 90 degrees to the floor and the chin presses against the chest.
  7. Remain in this position according to your comfort. For health benefits 3 – 5 minutes every day is good enough. Though practitioners can go up to 15 minutes for spiritual benefits.
  8. Breathe normally while maintaining the steady raised position.
  9. While releasing the position, the breath is held inside and the body is slowly brought down to the supine position.

Benefits

  1. The chin press during Sarvangasana stimulates the thyroid glands. It is good for those suffering from hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland also controls the effectiveness of other hormones. This will help to balance the functions of other endocrine glands.
  2. The chin press also activates the spiritual center in the neck region called the Vishuddhi chakra which is closely associated with the thyroid glands and general health.
  3. The inverted pose relieves the gravitational weight from many organs and helps in piles, hydrocele and certain kinds of hernia.
  4. Sarvangasana is good for those suffering from elephantiasis as it tends to reduce the inflammation in the legs.
  5. It tones the spine, the neck, the intestines, other organs in the abdomen and thorax and the shoulders.
  6. Sarvangasana can help to reduce fat around the waist region.
  7. As its name suggests, Sarvangasana gives benefits to the entire body and hence is a ‘Queen’ among asanas.

Contraindications

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Headache
  3. Menstruation
  4. Neck injury
  5. Pregnancy

Sarvangasana is considered to be an intermediate to advanced pose. Please do not attempt this without prior experience or supervised instruction.

How to do the tree pose (vrikshasana)

  1. Start in the standing position. Stand straight with arms on the side of the body.
  2. Now, take your hands and place on the hips. This can help you to balance better. Bend your right knee and place it on the inner side of the left thigh just above the left knee, or just hold it against your thigh if you can get it up that high.
  3. The left leg should remain straight. Try to maintain the balance of the body. The entire weight of the body rests on the left leg.
  4. Once you are steady, start raising the hands above the head. Bring the hands together, palms touching each other, in the prayer pose or Namaste The spine and chest should be held straight.
  5. Try to maintain your balance and look straight ahead. Breathe normally in this position.
  6. Try to maintain this for as long as you are comfortable.
  7. To release the pose, exhale slowly and simultaneously bring down the hands to the sides. Gently release the right leg and bring it to the floor.
  8. You can repeat the same procedure on the other side, by placing the left leg on the side of the right inner thigh.

Benefits

  1. This asana is excellent for developing a good sense of balance.
  2. Vrikshasana strengthens the legs, arms and shoulders.
  3. It can help those suffering from sciatica.
  4. Vrikshasana calms the mind and makes the body steady and strong.
  5. It can strengthen the ligaments of the ankle and feet.
  6. Vrikshasana can be used to correct posture related problems.

Contraindications

Those suffering from vertigo and high blood pressure should avoid Vrikshasana.

These asanas will give you a firm and stable base, which will make later asanas easier and safer to attempt.