As I sat down to write this month, I thought to myself, “Wow, it is halfway through the year” … but then I got my trusty counting fingers out and realised, it is actually past the halfway mark!
This got me thinking about balance, the balance between work and play, the balance in all our relationships and the balance of the emotional tide within ourselves. All of these things require at least one constant, your own mindfulness. We want to be aware at those times when the balance is negatively shifting and make the necessary changes needed, in order for there to be a more consistent harmony in life.
This same mindfulness is also required when working with balances in your yoga practice. You need to be focused on the foot’s connection to the ground, the mind’s connection to the body structure and the consistent flow of the breath. So this month we have a little bit of a challenging asana – but it is nothing that cannot be achieved with a little bit of time and patience. This month I introduce Ardha padmasana utkatasana – which basically translates as a “half lotus chair pose”. A great way to get the brain’s balance pathways stimulated!
I saw a great quote attached to this exact yoga pose once and it said “storms make trees grow stronger roots”. This is a great way to think about balance in general, when under pressure we find the strength to bear down, take hold and stay true.
Let’s look at the physical benefits of this pose:
• Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine
• Stretches shoulders and chest
• Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm and heart
• Reduces flat feet
• Calms the brain
• Stimulates the pelvis, spine, abdomen and
• Stretches the ankles and knees
• Eases menstrual discomfort and sciatica
I understand that some of you will find this asana challenging, but there is a step-by-step process and you can work on these steps at your own pace.
1. Start standing feet flat and hip width apart, knees bent, chest forward over thighs and hands on the ground in front of your feet.
2. Lift your right leg and cross your ankle over your left shin or knee.
3. Left foot is firm and flat on the ground, shoulders rolled down the back, bring your chin forward and sit back with your bottom, like you are sitting in a chair. I always pick an eye-level spot on to look at and fix my eyes on that spot to maintain my balance.
4. Start to lift your torso upright, arms out in front shoulder width apart, left knee stays bent. Beginners may want to use a wall or chair in front of you for support (see photo one) or hold your right ankle with your left hand to keep it on the knee (see photo two).
5. When your chest is upright, roll the shoulders down the back and lift the hands about the head (see photo three).
6. Hold for 20 seconds to one minute and repeat with the left leg.