Tag Archives: balance

Within Your Inherent Nature, Yoga Is Already Being Established

Remaining aware of your inherent nature will always keep you on your toes. If you're like most of us you may feel like you’re always running toward something or away from something. If we use pleasure as an example we will see that at first pleasure motivates you to run towards it and then it prompts you to run away from it. On the other hand, yoga enables an awareness that helps you stay balanced and stable. Yoga will bring stability to your life.

Within your inherent nature, yoga is already being established

A yogi is someone who strives to be strong and stable in his body, mind and emotions. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. If your emotions keep fluctuating up and down it is most likely because you are running towards something. So if you question what it is that you’re running towards and you’ll find it is pleasure, and once you’ve found it you reach a saturation point and then you feel the need to run away from it.

By remaining aware you can see in your life that it’s not only pleasure, but whatever you run towards, at some point or another, will push you away from it because you can’t (or won’t) handle it anymore. So when you reach that point or time that you feel the need to run away, you should know that it is because you were first enjoying it. So when you are enjoying something, keep in mind that the time will come when you’ll definitely want to run away from it. The solution is for you to change that attitude of your mind from seeking (pleasure, or anything you might desire) and just focus on remaining stable, then nothing becomes overwhelming and you won’t feel the need to run away.

Then it’s possible to realize that you are here to give comfort to others, not to seek comfort for yourself. This one simple attitude change will deter that tendency to feel “Oh, this is too much, I have to run away.” Only by indulging in what you have sought (and found) will cause you to feel, “this is too much, I need to get away.

When through yoga practice you become stable, you’ll always tend to give what you can. You’ll never hear the sun say, “I am shining too much, now I need to run away.” A diamond will never say, “I am glittering too much.” The sun and a diamond are excellent examples of things that are stable in their nature. They have no need to go out of their niche.

Stay tuned, next article will be: “Has Your Mind Made You Its Slave?”

After that, the series “Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga” will continue, resuming with Part 7.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Yoga, Sensitivity and Intention

As we fast approach the Holiday Season, it seems as though no matter how much we try to avoid it, stress inevitably will rear its ugly head.  With awareness and sensitivity it will be obvious when it is happening to you.  Once its onset is recognized we can employ the proper tools to handle it.

By taking just a few minutes to go inward and be attentive to your breath will almost immediately give you the space to open to a new perspective. This will help remind you that all of your stress is a matter of choice. You will undoubtedly realize that it’s rare that you can change the causes of my stress, but you can almost always influence your reaction to it.  It is good to know that you have the potential to completely control your reaction to any given situation (stressful or otherwise).  When you are successful in changing your reaction to small stresses, which originate from sources that are out of your control, you’ll know that you also have the potential to do the same thing with bigger stresses.

Whenever you open to your own potential you’ll gain a feeling of empowerment. This works as a reminder that you have choices. You’ll also discover insights that lead to finding the gifts within each appropriate choice you make.

Whether we realize it or not, we all live in a world of infinite potential. We have the ability to make a conscious choice to believe that anything is possible. If we do that we will likely find it to be a very effective way to live. Naturally, we’re all well aware that at times life is hard and there is nothing we can do about it.  But once we have acknowledged that, we can then choose to move forward and focus on what we can do, what we can change, and what I can gain from any given situation. The yogis refer to life as the “ananda tandava” (the dance of bliss). We too can create this experience in our lives by remaining focused on the good, enabling our potential and discovering our opportunities.

We are becoming aware that being overly or excessive positive in our thinking doesn’t necessarily produce guaranteed or magical results. Too many people have mistakenly oversimplified this practice by taking out all the gray areas and have since become disillusioned. So it’s necessary to come to grips with the fact that our thoughts alone do not “create” our circumstances. However, our thoughts do create our reactions to our circumstances and that in turn influences many things in a very real and often physical way.

Sensitivity and Intention Yield a Balanced Yoga Practice

And, practicing yoga with sensitivity and intention will lead to a balanced life.  But, always start first by intending to become more sensitive. Without sufficient sensitivity, there is no way to react appropriately to situations encountered in life. Very few of us are born with this level of sensitivity, but yoga can give you a taste of what it is like to live life with more sensitivity and you’ll be amazed as it develops through your intentions.

Intentions come from our deepest longings and desires. Many spiritual traditions teach that desire (per se) is the root cause of all suffering. And this makes absolute sense when we are talking about shallow or secular desires. However, when desire is “spiritualized” it can be the cause of movement, growth and spiritual maturity. So, in reality, it is not about eliminating all desire, but rather staying sensitive enough to discover what our deepest spiritual desires are. Spiritualized desires are the ones that bring us closer to others, the world around and all that we consider Divine, rather than separating us. This would include the desire to serve, the desire to discover our gifts and use them, and of course, the desire to know God.

Even these deeper, spiritual desires can be dangerous; can lead us into suffering as easily as into bliss. When we become anxious, impatient or try to rush the process of spiritual evolution we tend to sabotage our original intention. Once again, it’s our ability to be sensitive that reveals the wisdom to know the difference. In yoga, this is a balanced action, so resist thinking of it as a static place; think of it instead as a dance. When dancing, sometimes you lead (intention) and sometimes you follow (sensitivity), and this dance with life is what you’ve been created for, plus it is the key to living a life that reveals and eventually fulfills your spiritual potential.

Of related interest, click on: Develop a Positive Attitude with Yoga

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

Yoga Asana to Balance Your Doshas

Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences, two interrelated branches of the same great tree of Vedic knowledge that encompasses all of human life and the entire universe. Yoga is a spiritual path, while Ayurveda is therapeutic (and lifestyle-oriented); even so, they remain deeply connected to one another. The “Doshas” of Ayurveda are Vata, Pitta and Kapha and they describe three different forms of energy, and everyone’s basic nature (prakriti) is made up of a combination of the three. Most people have a dominant Dosha, or two Doshas that share dominance (although in very rare cases there are people who have nearly equal amounts of all 3). Additionally, the balance of the doshas, (vikruti) will fluctuate throughout your life, and can become balanced or imbalanced by factors related to your lifestyle, diet, environment, physical habits, age, and to some degree, the 4 seasons and even the time of day.

Any routine activity in your life can either tend to balance your dosha or cause imbalances and your yoga practice is no exception. So, Ayurvedic practitioners and theorists have given us some guidelines as to what types of asana works best for each Dosha type. Before we go any further, for a review of the three Doshas click on: Ayurveda & the Three Doshas. If you would like to find out what your predominate Dosha is, you can take one of the many online quizzes (do a Google for “dosha quiz”) or to get started there’s a simple 12-question quiz on Deepak Chopra’s site, click HERE.

Now as to which asanas are best suited for your Dosha, here’s some suggestions…

Suggestions and Advice for VATA:

People of Vata disposition or those with Vata imbalances benefit most from a yoga practice that is grounding, calming, and slightly warming. This practice helps to balance out Vata’s tendency to be anxious, insecure and “spacey”. Also, since imbalances in Vata commonly manifest in the large intestine and/or lower back (2nd chakra), people of Vata nature can benefit from poses that strengthen the lower back muscles and work the lower abdomen.

Recommended asanas for Vata: All standing poses are beneficial, especially Virabhdrasana II (Warrior II) and Uttanasana (forward fold), Paschimottanasa (seated forward fold), Balasana (child’s pose), Dhanurasana (bow pose), Padmasana (lotus pose).

Asanas that are best to avoid: Those of Vata nature shold avoid over-stimulation through fast repetitions of sun salutations or similar sequences. In addition, because Vatas tend to have prominent joints, it is recommended they use padding on asanas that put pressure on their joints such as shalabasana (locust pose), salamba sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand) and halasana (plow pose).

Suggestions and Advice for PITTA:

Those who are predominately of Pitta nature are most complimented by an asana practice that is calming and cooling. Pittas have a tendency to be naturally assertive, fiery and driven, so when practicing asana they should focus on keeping their breath steady and bringing “softness” to tense areas like the shoulders and face. Additionally, Pittas are prone to irregularities in the small intestine (3rd chakra), so practicing backbends that stretch out the solar plexus area can be especially beneficial.

Recommended asanas for Vata: Ustrasana (camel pose), Bhujangasana (seated spinal twist), Dhanurasana (bow pose).

Asanas that are best to avoid: Pitta people should avoid over-stimulation through fast repetitions of sun salutations or similar sequences, which can generate excessive heat. In addition, Pittas should not hold inversion poses such as the headstand for prolonged periods, because they generate a lot of heat in the head and the belly.

Suggestions and Advice for KAPHA:

People of Kapha nature are usually complimented by a heating, stimulating practice. Kaphas tend to be a bit slow moving and are prone to congestion in the lungs leading to upper respiratory problems, so a fast and hot practice is the best method for bringing Kapha back into a state of equilibrium.

Best Asanas for Kapha: Ustrasana (camel pose), Salamba Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose – to free up the chest and help prevent congestion), repetitions of Surya Namaskara (sun salutation) A and B.

Asanas to Avoid: Almost all asanas are good for those who are predominately Kapha, but since their weakest areas tend to be kidneys and lungs, avoid prolonged holding of poses that place pressure on the lower abdomen, like Dhanurasana (bow pose).

What if you have more than one Dosha that share dominance?

If you discover that you have a “combination” dosha, it may be tricky to navigate the suggestions and recommendations above. A good example would be if you are Pitta/Kapha, you are advised to avoid heat on the one hand, but generate it on the other? For these types of “dual” dosha personalities, a few suggested recommendations follow, although obviously it would be best to seek an actual ayurvedic/yogic consultation!

First, try to find out if you have a dominant Dosha  by taking a different online Dosha quiz; for instance, if you took a fairly long quiz, try taking a shorter one and see if you get a better overall assessment.

Next, you can analyze your results and see if your physical attributes (as opposed to temperamental ones) fall into one category more so than another; this might help to guide your physical practice.

If you still are uncertain, you may need to do some serious self-study to find what is right for you. Going back to the Pitta-Kapha example above, you may find that in the mornings you have lots of fiery energy typical of Pitta, so then a morning practice should be slow and calming. On the other hand, you may find that at this particular time in your life, your Kapha is dominating, and you can compensate with a more stimulating practice. This is also the case if you are one of the rare people who have a balance of all 3 doshas; you will need some careful self-examination to ascertain which Dosha applies to which of your physical and personality attributes.

Discovering your Dosha is an unending process! The balance of these 3 attributes in your life will fluctuate over the years, seasons, even the different times of the day. But Ayurveda is always a great resource for some handy tips for how to get (and keep) those elements in balance, remain in touch with your own unique “Dosha pattern” and stay in tune with your true nature.

The Importance of Balance in Yoga

Many beginning student/practitioners of yoga find it hard to maintain balance while practicing. Yoga asana is especially good for challenging our balance because we must hold poses still while supporting our own body weight. This forces us to use all the body’s available balancing mechanisms to stay upright and steady.

The technical name for our sense of balance is called “Equilibrioception” and it involves five components or processes, making it more complicated than most people imagine. We all seem to take it for granted. Consider the following summary of the numerous body functions and mechanisms that must work in harmony for us to keep our balance:

  • 1. Your Inner Ear – The inner ear is part of your body’s and is also known as the vestibular system. Movement of fluid in the inner ear tells the brain where the head is located in relation to the rest of the body. It also communicates the speed of movement related to the head – e.g.; when our head is moving up and down or left to right.
  • 2. Your Eyesight – The body uses vision as an anchor for determining where you are in relation to the rest of the world. Through our eyes’ visual recognition we are able to sense where we are in relation to other objects, plus whether or not we are moving, and if so, how fast.
  • 3. Your Central Nervous System (CNS) – The Central Nervous System consists of the spinal cord and the brain. It connects all areas of the body to the brain via a system of nerves. The central nervous system is responsible for almost everything we do; from something as simple as breathing to something complex, like solving a math problem. This system can be thought of as the “command center” of the body because all movement and systems are regulated via the CNS. The CNS is then connected to the rest of the body including muscles, organs and glands. In order for balance to be maintained, a healthy and functioning CNS is imperative.
  • 4. Your Breath & Breathing – In order for the body to stay balanced it must “centered” and have attained to certain level of relaxation. Deep breathing and relaxed diaphragm muscles will help the body relax, become more centered and that helps maintain balance.
  • 5. Your Muscles – In order to establish and maintain balance your muscles must be strong enough to support our body weight. It is also important that the body does not favor or use one set of muscles over another set. For example, if the lower back muscles are stronger than the abdominal muscles, one may have a tendency to lean back more than necessary while standing. This can negatively affect both posture and balance.

4 Helpful Tips for Improving Balance While Practicing Yoga…

  • 1. Remain in Conscious Control of Your Breathing – As I mentioned above, one of the easiest, quickest ways to lose your balance is by tensing up your body and taking short, shallow breaths. While holding a pose be sure to keep the breathing long, light and steady plus keep the body relaxed, especially the diaphragm region.
  • 2. Focus Your Eyes On a Point – Before attempting to assume a balancing asana, find a stationary spot in the room to fix your eyes to. For example, a poster on a wall, a knob on a door or a cup on the floor. Whatever it is, fix your eyes there and steady yourself first before entering fully into the pose. As you slowly raise your body into the pose, keep staring at that same point. This orients your body giving it a visual anchor, which greatly improves balance while practicing.
  • 3. Concentrate on the Area Demanding the Most Strength – Whenever anyone comes into a pose requiring balance, there will likely be one specific area of the body’s musculature that is most taxed in order to maintain an upright stance. Using the tree pose for example, the area most taxed will be the ankle and leg of the standing foot. While remaining in this pose, focus your attention to the ankle and leg. Feel each tiny muscle, nerve and reflex working constantly to keep you upright and balanced. Feel all the minute adjustments that must be made every millisecond you remain in thi pose. Keep your mind focused on this area but relax (see #4)…
  • 4. Don’t Try To Hard – This may sound counter-productive, especially if you are focusing your attention to the area most taxed. Nonetheless, the fastest way to topple or fall is by trying too hard to stay upright. The key here is to relax and to trust your body. Your practice will show you what you need to do to stay balanced in the pose. Trust in the process.

3 Easy Yoga Poses to Help With Improving Balance…

  • The Importance of Balance in Yoga

    Tree Pose

    1. Tree Pose (Vrksasana) – If you are not able to bring your leg all the way up, try resting the bottom of the foot against the inside of the standing leg. You can either place the foot by the shin, or up higher where the leg meets the body. Do not place the foot on the side of the knee.

    The Importance of Balance in Yoga

    Side Plank

  • 2. Modified Side Plank (Vasisthasana) – If this pose needs to be modified, you can bring the bottom knee down to rest the leg on the floor. Bend the knee of the bottom leg and bring the foot behind the body at a 90 degree angle.
  • 3. Eagle Pose (Garudasana) – To modify, do not wrap the lifted foot around the standing leg. If the shoulder stretch is too deep, you may cross the wrists over each other and place the hands in such a way that the back of the hands touch each other.


A strong sense of balance promotes stillness in yoga poses, as well as stillness in your mind. As your balance improves you’ll also notice the strengthening of your your muscles and improved flexibility and overall muscular control, as well as a greater body awareness. Once the mat’s rolled up and you leave your studio you’ll notice increased balance and improved posture, making simple tasks (like walking in heels). Practice these balancing poses and you’ll feel more balanced physically as well as mentally.