Balance & Stability Under Pressure

Grace under pressure, courage over fire, facing the world with compassion? Build up mental strength and discipline in your mat through constant yoga practice!
Sometimes, I put myself in a warmer room than the usual not to go deeper in the pose but to challenge my endurance, balance & core strength. The world is full of stressors. We could either turn it into a bad one or a good one! My teacher said, your mat practice reflects your life outside your mat.
Here are my top 3 poses for that:
1. Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) or Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana (Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose)
Standing forehead to knee
Two legs supporting you and 2 feet touching the ground but still, it keeps you out of balance!
Keep the right leg to the front with toes pointing forward. Soften and square both hips to the floor as you move the left leg backward so the foot angle depends on the squared hips. Internally rotate the thigh of the back leg inwards and gently push the right hip back to help yourself square out the hips.
Keep the heels aligned with each other. If the heel of the back foot lifts off the floor, shorten your step slightly. Press the mound of the big toe, pinkie toe and center of heel on both feet. See if you can balance more by pressing the inside edge of the front foot and the outside edge of the back foot. Distribute the weight of the body evenly on the front and back legs.
Try to straighten both legs and bring your palms together a few inches in front of your right foot or bring palms together in prayer position.
Try to bring the fingertips one inch in front of your toes (or depends on the length of your arms to your torso), with arms straight keeping arms in-line with the ears. Lower rib cage in and lift up through the lower abdomen looking towards the chest to round the spine. Bend the leg if needed to protect the lower and forehead can keep contact with the knee working on eventually straightening the leg. Pivot from the heels to do the opposite side and do 5-10 Breaths.
2. Garudasana or Eagle posture 
Eagle Pose front viewEagle Pose side view
Bring your arms sideways shoulder level or slightly below and swing the right arm under the left to cross at the elbows and then again at the wrists and try to get your palms together in front of your face with the thumbs towards the face. Feel the compression in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Pull the arms downward to get your fingertips underneath your nose to increase compression. If there's tightness and pain, keep the arms shoulder level.
Find your balance and gaze on one point or drishti. Try to look at the tip of the nose, forearm, or tip of finger (if you can pull your arms all the way down).
Hinge from the hips, body weight on the heels, try to sit down as low as you can. Shift the body weight to the heel of the left leg.  Lift the center of the chest up and lean the upper body back as much as possible without allowing the hips to come up. Lift the right leg over the left and place your right foot behind your left calf. Feel that the compression happening in the hips, knees, and ankles is comfortable. Sit further down to increase that compression otherwise do not if there's discomfort or pain.
Align the hands, elbows, knees and ankles underneath the nose.  The hips and shoulders should be in one line from the side. To even out the body, bring your upper body to the right and your knees to the left. Lower abdomen in, lower rib cage in, breath and stay for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
3. Toe Stand or Padangustasana
Toe Stand
Start by warming up the hips with Half Lotus Tree Pose variation. You may bring your ankle a few inches above the knees so that the shin is more parallel to the front of mat for more of a deep hip opener. 
From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), bend your right knee and bring the outside of your left ankle on top of your right thigh. Flex your left foot. Find your balance as you put your body weight on one leg. Actively press both your left knee and ankle toward the floor to feel a deep hip stretch. Press the palms together in the center of your chest for Anjali Mudra.
You can just stay here in this half-way position if you are still finding your balance or the hips are tight. It will be quite challenging to find your center if flexibility gets on the way. 
Otherwise, do your best to bring your hips further down by bending your right knee and lower your hips toward the floor, lifting your right heel. Bring your fingertips down for balance and find one-pointed focus or drishti on an object in front of you or look at the tip of nose. Center your weight over your right heel pressing the ball of your foot on the floor. Lengthen the spine and engage the core. Slowly start to try with lifting one hand off the ground and see if you can bring the other hand to the heart center. Hold for 5-10 breaths and change sides. If you experience pain in any body part, release and do the first option.
  1. Breath 5-10 breaths or longer and be still on the pose. The important part is the compression, not the stretch.
  2. Release yourself out of the pose/s if there's pain specially in forward bends and joint compressions.
  3. Get out of the room if dizzy.
  4. Always check with your doctor in case of health issues.
  5. Be a responsible practitioner.  
1. Forward bend postures do not only give you a good stretch on the hamstrings but they also give compression that put pressure on the glands of the body, especially the thyroid. If glands are compressed they are stimulated or activated and function well. Basically, blood supply is cut off and when released, fresh oxygenated blood flushes back through those glands. 
2. Eagle pose warms up the skeletal system by opening up the 14 largest joints in the human skeleton - 7 joints on each side of the body. The same function as no. 1 above, while one holds the posture, the pose cuts off the blood circulation to the scapula, deltoids, wrists, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles and when  released, freshly oxygenated blood flushes back through these joints. 
3. Toe Stand not only opens the hips and gives a good stretch but at the same time also strengthens hips as well as abdominal muscles, knees, ankles, and toes. Like Eagle Pose, it develops stronger joints.
  • Lizel is wearing the Luna Bra by Brazil Wear and Shorts by Tonic.  These items and others can be found @
  • Photo by Lizel 

Lizel Cameron has been practicing yoga for more than 10 years now and teaching for 5. Lizel is a certified:

  • Yoga Teacher
  • Personal Trainer and a Mind-Body Specialist
  • Corrective Exercise Specialist of BioMechanics Method
  • Functional Training and Conditioning level 1 coach of MBSC
  • Functional Movement System level 2 certified 
  • Pilates Teacher

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Tags: Balance