Asana: Yoga & Balance

Yoga asana practice is intended to balance many complementary aspects of our being:

  • Strengthening and stretching
  • Effort and surrender
  • Physical symmetry (left and right, top and bottom, etc)
  • Mental and attitudinal tendencies (pushing and yielding, etc)

Strengthen & Stretch

Yoga asanas balance the body by bringing the appropriate tone and suppleness to the musculature. They strengthen muscles that are weak and stretch muscles that are tight. – Dr. David Frawley

Effort & Surrender

There are strength and surrender elements in every posture. We always hold one part of the body strong, which allows another part of the body to release… This balance between the two actions is what makes yoga such a unique and powerful form of fitness: It accentuates strength and grace, stability and flexibility, hard and soft, so that your entire body is engaged in a balanced way… You may feel strong in one pose while others feel impossible. Since yoga exposes weaknesses, you can’t just muscle through the practice… It is not about developing one set of muscles in your body but rather about developing your entire body and remembering that many parts make up the whole.  – Baron Baptiste

See also: Right Effort

Yoga Teaches Balance

Yoga creates symmetry throughout your whole body, making you strong and flexible in a balanced way. It also teaches you to balance the mental impulse to push, control, and be assertive with the complimentary impulse to yield, surrender, and be passive. This balanced attitudinal equilibrium, rather than hampering the energy of either impulse, heightens the effectiveness of both. – Erich Schiffmann

Brawn & Brain

The instant you lift one foot off the floor, the foundation of the hip on that side is pulled out from under it. Yet you usually don’t collapse toward the ground. What holds you up? Two muscles in the opposite-side buttock, the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus, do most of the work. These are the two most important muscles to strengthen to improve all of your one-legged balancing poses… The best way to strengthen these crucial muscles is—you guessed it—to practice lots and lots of one-legged standing poses! … It is important not to try to muscle your way through balancing poses, replacing good alignment with brute force. If you find yourself clenching the floor with your toes, white-knuckled, there’s a good chance you are using too much brawn and not enough brain. – Roger Cole