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Welcome back to Day 3 of the Yoga Basics Challenge. How did you feel after yesterday’s class? Did you stay back to practise the poses you learnt?
It’s okay if your answer is No! Because today we will be doing more standing poses to build your balance and learn how to improve them not by muscle-ing through everything (that’s not the point of yoga) but by using the power of your gaze and grounding through your feet to help you.
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Improving Standing Balance with Your Gaze (Drishti)
What is Drishti?
Drishti, translated to “point of focus”, is a technique used in yoga for improving focus and balance. Instead of looking at moving objects, Drishti demands that yogis select an unmoving point and focus our gaze on it. Once we chose a point, we should commit to it with full awareness and let our breath be deep and smooth.
In Yoga, there are 9 Drishtis you can take:
- Tip of nose
- Third Eye
- Upward to the sky or ceiling
- Hand or middle finger
- Sideways to the left
- Sideways to the right
- Tip of the big toe(s)
Drishti and Balance
In the case of balancing yoga poses, Drishti can be really helpful in keeping our focus steady. Where our eyes go, our attention goes as well. When doing yoga poses, our eyes may be tempted to look at the girl beside us, to spot another struggling person around the class, etc. By committing to one point, we are forcing our mind to concentrate and tune in on our body.
Generating this inner sense of awareness helps to steady our balance and limit the impact of external influences on our practice.
While I say that Drishti is good for balance, I recommend that you use the power of Drishti whenever you come back on the mat. It is great for cultivating a keener sense of self-awareness and for deepening your personal yoga journey.
Grounding with All Three Arches
Many people, especially runners, know that we have an arch on the inside of our foot that helps keep stable. But did you know that this is only one of the three arches in our foot? Each foot has is supported by the medial (inside arch), lateral (outside arch) and transverse (running from the knuckles of our small to big toes).
In order to perform standing balance poses better, we need to ground down on all three arches. This is one of the fundamental reasons why yoga is done barefoot.
How to ground your feet
The easiest way to practise grounding your feet is to take on these steps
- Stand with both feet flat on the ground
- Lift your toes up and push down through knuckles of your feet, particularly that of your small and big toes, and also your heels.
- Once you feel that the bases of your big toe, small toe and your heels are well established, start lowering your toes again to the ground
- By this time your feet should feel like it is stuck to the ground
Keeping Your Sense of Humour
Standing balance poses do not come easily for many people. It can be due to various reasons, perhaps you are generally not aware of the way you stand, or are suffering from flatter arches (which can negatively affect your balance), or simply have not used your arches in a while.
Regardless, it is normal to fall out of your poses in yoga. When this happens, many people tend to beat themselves up or get seriously annoyed.
Instead of taking things too seriously, I want you to laugh it out.
You can come back to the pose again, but do it with a light heart. When you enjoy your practice more, you are more inclined to keep coming back to these challenging poses.
Besides, everyone needs improvement somewhere. Balancing poses were my namesis because of my flat arches, but I honestly have fun playing around with them (and falling around like a little toddler).
So have fun with this practice, take yourself less seriously, practise more if you are really annoyed and see yourself improve over time!
Let’s unroll your mat and see you in this video.
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The YogaMad is founded by Candace, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.