January 2015 By Shameem Akhtar Balancing poses will ground you, enhance your self-esteem, and heal you of fear and anxiety, says Shameem Akthar While reading a book on brain plasticity and how it can be used to help those in trouble, I was not surprised to read that researchers have found that a sense of balance is strongly connected to self-esteem. In yoga, balancing poses are used to calm anxiety, hypersensitivity, depression and other problems that are triggered by the mind. While treating those with psychosomatically triggered vertigo, researchers found that helping people achieve a sense of balance immediately also worked on the emotional trigger of severe clinical depression. Dr David Frawley, in his book on yoga for your ayurvedic dosha, also suggests standing poses to soothe a hyper active vata dosha (which is a high anxiety ayurvedic personality). In fact, though more people get excited and put in more effort with inversions, many do not appreciate that inversions (like the headstand or scorpion) will become easier for those who can do the standing balancers first. If you cannot be steady while being upright, how can you expect to become comfortable hanging upside down? On bringing in the chakra connection, you will see that legs relate to the lowest chakra mooladhara (root psychic center) which is involved with basic, survival instincts and reactive emotions of anxiety and anger. This explains why having control over standing balancers is used in yoga to calm one’s mind. Scientifically too, our cerebellum, one of the more primitive parts of our nervous system, is engaged with the sense of balance and kinesthetic intelligence. It is also a very reactive one, which explains its tremendous connections to our memory – also part of our evolutionary survival kit. Working on balancing poses is as if you are doing a brain surgery on your own – to clear up wrong reactive patterns that actually trip us (like misplaced anger or anxiety) and help us access the situation rightly and with confidence. It is exciting to break through conditionings that block us, and reclaim our self-esteem by simply learning to hold the balancing poses for long. This explains why though initially we may struggle with balance, we end up getting a powerful and exhilarating high once we train ourselves to hold them well. Ardhachandrasana (Standing crescent pose): Stand with feet a metre apart. Left foot pointed ahead. Inhale, exhaling, lower both hands on either side of the left foot. Lift the back (right leg) up, so it is parallel to the ground. After a few weeks of practise, lift the right hand up in air. After few weeks of practice in this stage, you may turn your head to look at the raised hand. This will help you progress in your balancing skills. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute in each stage. Do normal breathing. Repeat for the other leg. Benefits: Improves balance. Grounds, calms the mind. Boosts confidence. Improves posture. Is used for rectifying and healing all issues of the spine. Is used in healing cardiac problems, high blood pressure, insomnia, diabetes. One of the most healing poses. About the author: Shameem Akthar has trained as Yoga Acharya with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology. Email: email@example.com http://jaisivananda.blogspot.com
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