A Beautiful Balance - In Tree Pose and Life

Q: Sat Nam, Ravi and Ana, I have practiced K.Yoga for 15+ years, 11 of those every single day, yet I still can't do Tree Pose without tipping over. Sometimes I can maintain it for a bit, but every moment I'm tense waiting for the inevitable wobble. I have so psyched myself out that I expect to tip over the moment the pose comes up in a kriya. "Balance" challenges don't seem to surface in other areas of my life. I have pondered this on every level. Today we practiced a kriya outdoors and almost immediately I had to hang on to a branch in order to stay balanced. I thought, "This is reee-ally starting to piss me off," and I want to figure this out. I would really appreciate your advice and insights. Thanks and love,

Thanks for writing. The secret to balancing in Tree is not so much about one's feet (although we want to ground evenly through the four corners of our feet), it's about core and lower back stability. This will stabilize our hips and balancing in poses will be easier. When in Tree, make sure that you lengthen your tailbone down. Also, draw your navel slightly in. Maintain length in your lower back. The Divine Alignment chapter in our book will be helpful as will the Posture Primer section which is on some of our DVD's.

When in Tree imagine a line of energy emanating from your navel, attaching firmly to something in the distance. Feel that connect buoying you. Triangulate that with a beam from your eyes as well. Let us know how you do.

Oh. My. Gosh. OMG OMG OMG!!! Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It worked the moment I shifted my attention! I was so focused elsewhere, but the moment I shifted my focus on my core and lower back I was in Tree Pose like a forest goddess! I can't believe it! My husband also had this same issue but here we are, standing in Tree Pose in our kitchen like 2 old pros. I really appreciate your quick response and advice. Honestly, you helped so much and you made my day! Much love and appreciation to you.

In many ways, balance and yoga are synonymous terms. Balance is not stasis. It's the dynamic tension between opposites. It's our ability to stay calm in the center of the whirlwind. We can't stay in balance unless we can recognize what out of balance feels like and are able to invoke the tools and strategies to find our golden mean.

For ease in our bodies and life, we need a balance between flexibility and strength. This is one of the most approachable inroads to assessing balance. Take Tree Pose for instance. Most of the time our focus is on getting that heel as high on our standing inner thigh as possible. This is easy if you are flexible but often a flexible body will forget to engage the core and back. Our stomach loosens, our back arches, our ribs jut forward. We wobble and...timber!!! Flexibility is not very useful without strength. It may allow us to take a cool Instagram pic (quickly), but it's not functional. Flexibility can't stand without the stability muscular engagement supplies.
And it's important to work in complimentary muscle groups. These include our abs, back, quads, psoas. All too often we exercise the same muscles, in the same way, day after day. We need to mix it up for mastery. It's been shown that when athletes vary their workouts they tend to get injured less frequently.

Balance is also important when it comes to our diet. Have you ever tried a trendy diet that purported to be the "answer," but found that it wasn't sustainable over the long haul. The raw food diet is a perfect example. There are no dietary absolutes, there are only principles and approximations. We have to fill in the particulars. Have you eaten a kumquat lately? Some form of seaweed? A slice of avocado? Also in alignment with dietary balance is eating and fasting. Traditionally yogis fast on liquids only on Mondays (Moon day) to bring balance to the emotions and give their system a rest. Other fasting days are the New Moon and the 11th day of the moon cycle.

Brain Balance. We actually have a number of brains. Our left and right hemispheres as well as our evolutionary brains: reptilian, mammalian, and our "new" brain. There is also the solar plexus and digestive tract which are considered their own brains. Neuroplasticity means that we exercise our brain by engaging in various types of mental activity. And of course, there's the balance between thinking and being. Regular meditation practice is crucial for this.

Work and Rest. People think they want days filled with quiet leisure and often wind up depressed and anxious. Then again many people work until they're running on fumes. The ideal is to do and savor and plan and execute. It's all about the interplay between creativity and organization. When things get out of whack our balance quotient is where to shine the spotlight of self-inquiry.

We can go on and on but you get the concept. We hope that this article will inspire you to check off your balance boxes!