According to brain researchers, as many as 50 billion cells light up in the brain in response to balancing on one foot.
I’m guessing the Balancing Spinal Twist lights up 250 billion. No wonder yoga is so effective in quieting the mind: with stuff like this, you just don’t have enough processing power left for thoughts about groceries lists or children to be picked up from school. Well, I know I don’t.
So, as a variation to the previous blog, the Balancing Shoulder Stretch, here’s the pose, in 45 seconds:
1. Shift the weight of your body toward your right foot, bend your right knee slightly, and cross your left ankle on top of your right thigh. Look toward the floor and place your arms wherever they give you a sense of balance right now. Don’t overthink it.
2. Bring your palms together and begin to turn to your right. You might bend your left knee a little more at this point in preparation for bringing your elbow toward your left foot.
3. The full pose: rest your left elbow on the instep of your left foot. Look at the floor or, if you’re feeling ambitious, look at the ceiling. Take 3-6 slow breaths in the pose, and then repeat on the other side.
Benefits: You will develop the balance of an egret that can twist. Yoga has many balancing poses, but this one takes the cake. Or the egret.
Avoid if: If your sideways range of motion doesn’t quite allow you to set your elbow on the foot, don’t force it: just stay in step 2 above. Also, if you’re likely to fall and not have fast enough reflexes to catch yourself, please practice near a wall… or better yet, a corner, so either side of the wall can catch you. Aside from that, if your knees hurt or if either hip joint hurts going into this position, back off till there is no pain… or skip the pose altogether.
Final thoughts: I used to say that the practical application for any of the balancing yoga poses was being able to put on your shoes while standing up. With this, you can put on one sock and one shoe, pause to slide one arm into your jacket, then continue to the other side. If your kids are too embarrassed to bring their friends home anymore, well, that’s the price you pay for a home yoga practice.