Friday, February 14, 2014

Dynamic Balance

One legged standing poses can strengthen the standing leg and promote mobility in the raised leg hip

Standing on one leg helps develop stability in the hips, knees, and ankle of the standing leg.  When you are really stable on that leg you can do all sorts of interesting things with the rest of your body.

In the videos below I demonstrate how you can do a lot more with one legged standing poses than just plain old vrksasana (tree pose).  Not that there is anything wrong with vrksasana--it's great too.  But there is a lot more you can do in standing balances that will take your non weight bearing hip through more range of movement while moving energy through the spine.  

These movements are based on my interpretation of the opening postures of the Yoga Synergy Air Sequence.  Please go to the original teachers, Simon Borg Olivier and Bianca Machliss for expert guidance (

I have filmed a simple version and a more complex version.  Do what feels right for you. 

One-legged dynamic standing sequence: Simple version

For most of these postures it helps if the weight bearing foot is slightly turned out.  Allow the standing leg to be bent.  You do not have to straighten it.  You can claw with the standing toes a little.  It helps with balance.  Relax your gaze.  In the beginning it helps to look at the floor but with practice you will find you can find other points of focus on.  Let the grounded foot move and wobble as needed to help you find your balance.  

The standing leg hip might try to jut out to the side so try to keep it in.  It's important that you don't feel squashing around the front of the thigh or in the lower back.  Make subtle shifts to keep these areas at ease.  It helps to keep reminding yourself to let the sitting bones move down the back of the thighs.  Relax the tongue, lips and jaw.    

The instructions for the simple and more complex versions are basically the same.  Don't raise the toe if it does not feel right.  You will develop your balance skills even if you keep the toe on the ground.  

Over time, you can lighten the load on the toe so it is just the toenail touching and one day, perhaps, the toe might feel like floating off.  Don't be in a rush to get there and even when you do come back to the toe tip practice sometimes.  I often do and it feels great.

One-legged dynamic standing balance sequence: More complex version


Stand comfortably.  Knees soft.  Soften the sitting bones down the back of the thighs to create relaxed space in your lower back.  Relax the face.  Breathe naturally.

Stand comfortably

Simple version
More complex version
From standing comfortably, lean to the right and take your left toe tip forward.  Move the hips forward. Roll the shoulders out, chest rises.  Stay, or lift the toe.  Stay or straighten the leg.  Raised thigh rolling out. 

Simple version

More complex version

Toe tip down, take it to the side.  Thigh rolls out.  Roll the shoulders in.  Hips move forward.  Stay, or lift the toe.  Stay or straighten the leg.  Raised thigh rolling out.

Simple version
More complex version

Toe tip down, arms down.  Roll the thigh in.  Take the toe diagonally behind, knee straight.  Raise the opposite elbow to shield your face.  Lengthen through the front side waist and move the back leg hip forward and up to firm the opposite waist.  Stay, or raise the toe.  

Simple version
More complex version

Toe tip down, elbow down.  Take the toe tip behind you, knee straight.  High on the back toes.  Thigh rolls in.  Push both armpits down towards your waist.  Move the hips forward. Slowly lower the body a third to a half way, however much is comfortable.  Stay, or raise the toe.  

Simple version
More complex version
Toe tip down, thigh rolls in, body rises.  Raise the same side elbow, lengthen through the waist.  Stay, or raise the leg.  

Simple version
More complex version
Toe tip down, elbow down, you are still in a twist.  Toe tip forward, hips forward, take the arms forward and across to twist the other way.  Turn the head and look over your front shoulder, chin to the middle of the throat  head tipped to the side to lengthen the top side of the neck.  Stay, or raise the toe.  Perhaps straighten the leg.  

Return to centre.  Repeat on the other side.  Happy and safe practicing.  Look forward to seeing you in class.

Much metta,

xo Samantha

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