Balance + Centre
10 poses to find balance and re-centre during December. By Laura Dodd
Yoga is about returning to ourselves in the deepest sense and returning to our core, our centre. Instead of focusing on outward actions, we turn the focus back to ourselves, our bodies, and our breath. December can be a very busy month and this practice is about reconnecting to centre, in one sense the strength felt through the midline, the core and the vertical axis of the body in balance poses.
In another sense, that feeling of a calm, settled, and focused mind after a connected, breath-led, and grounding practice to bring back a feeling of balance. Through breath, awareness, and movement this practice brings us home to ourselves time and time again, until it naturally infuses deeper into your everyday being. For this practice you will just need 1 block. Move through this practice in a connected way, paying attention to your mind, body and breath. Let’s begin!
Watch the mini session with Laura Dodd below, brought to you in partnership with The Yoga Class. Visit theyogaclass.co for the full-length class, plus 250+ more on- demand classes.
1. Muktasana (Meditation Pose)
Come to a comfortable seat, perhaps using a yoga block or a cushion under your sit bones. Bend the knees so the shins are parallel with the front of the body and the ankles are crossed. Draw up tall through the spine so the crown of the head lifts, tuck the chin very slightly into the chest and roll the shoulders down the back. Anchor your mind on a calm and conscious breath, hold for as long as you need.
2. Parsva Sukhasana (Seated Side Bend Pose)
Stay in your comfortable seated position, perhaps removing the block or cushion, so your sit bones rest on the mat. Bring the left fingertips down to the mat and on the next inhale, sweep the right arm up to the sky, lengthening through the spine and reaching through the right fingertips. Exhale, start to lean the torso over to the right, taking the gaze up to the sky, keeping length in the back of the neck. Ensure the lifted palm is facing the mat. Variations are to bring the forearm, rather than the hand, to the mat. Stay for five deep breaths, breathing into the side ribs and noticing how the body is moving around the strong and steady core, the mid-line. Repeat on the other side.
3. Parivrtta Sukhasana (Seated Spinal Twist Pose)
Come back to centre in your seated Easy pose. Inhale, again grow tall through the crown of the head, tucking the chin slightly, rolling the shoulders down the back, and drawing in the lower ribs and belly. Exhale, start to twist through the spine to the right, bringing the right hand behind the hips and the left hand to the right knee. Modify by resting the left hand where it lands, perhaps on the shin. Breathe here for five deep breaths before repeating on the other side.
4. Prasarita Balasana (Wide Child Pose)
Come to kneel on the yoga mat with your knees wide and your feet towards each other. Allow the hips to soften down towards the feet as you gently draw your chest, forehead or cheek towards the mat or your bolster. Feel space across the back of the pelvis and lower back, as you soften towards the mat. Possible variations are bringing the arms forward, letting the arms rest backwards to the sides of the hips or through the legs, or finally bring them to rest on a bolster. Soften in mindfully to this pose for around three minutes, before exiting the posture slowly, carefully and with ease.
5. Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
Come to standing, facing the left-hand side of your mat, take a wide step out so your feet are roughly 3-4 feet apart. Turn the right toes to face the front of the mat and bring the left foot to around 45-90 degrees, making sure the heel of the front foot is in line with the middle arch of the back foot and the back foot is grounded. Bring the arms parallel to the mat. As you inhale, reach the right arm forward and draw the right hip back in space, hingeing at the hip. Exhale as you bring the right hand to a block, your shin or the mat. Keep length in the sides of the body, the shoulders in-line with the hips and legs and the chest rotated to the sky. Inhale, as you take the gaze and the left hand up. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
6. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
From standing at the top of the mat, start to bring the weight evenly into the right foot. On the exhale, drop the right hand under the right shoulder, top corner of the mat. Keeping the left hand on the hip, draw the left leg up in line with the torso, foot flexed and leg parallel with the mat. Keep balance by finding your gaze point, your drishti. On the inhale, rotate the chest to the sky a little more and lift the leg a little higher. If you feel balanced, you can take the top arm and gaze up to the sky. Modify by bringing a block under the front fingertips. Hold for five conscious breaths. Repeat on the other side.
7. Utkatasana Variation (Chair Pose Variation)
Come back again to Tadasana. Exhale, deeply bend the knees, keeping the weight back in the heels and leaning the torso slightly forward over your thighs. Take an inhale and sweep the arms up to the sky. Draw the tailbone long, whilst you hug in the lower belly and simultaneously lift the sternum. Ensure the weight is staying back in the heels, the knees are together, and in-line and the palms are facing each other. Play with balance and connect further to your steady central axis by taking the variation of coming onto the toes. Hold for five deep breaths.
8. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Forward Bend Pose)
Come to standing, facing the left-hand side of your mat, take a wide step out so your feet are roughly 3-4 feet apart. Bring the toes to face in slightly, to feel an internal rotation in the thighs, whilst you bring the hands to the hips. Inhale, draw tall through the crown of the head and draw the shoulders down the back. Exhale, keeping the spine long, start to hinge at the hips, folding forward. Fold as low as you can, keeping the length in the spine. Ensure to keep the lower belly drawing in and the weight forward in the feet. Variations are to either keep the hands on the hips, bring the hands to the floor with the elbows at a right angle, clasp the hands behind the back or bring the hands to the ankles or shins. Breathe here for five deep breaths.
9. Halasana (Plough Pose)
Lie onto the mat, legs long, with length in the back of the neck and the shoulders rolling under slightly. Bring the palms of the hands to the floor by the hips. Inhale, gently push into the hands and start to draw the knees
in towards the forehead. Carefully bring the hands to the lower back, fingertips facing up, as close towards the shoulder blades as feels comfortable and lifting the hips to stack over the shoulders, again as much as feels comfortable. Ensure there is no pain or pinching in the neck or back. Once you feel steady, start to straighten the legs, drawing the feet towards the floor behind the head. Modify by leaving the knees at the forehead. Hold for
five conscious breaths, before engaging the core and bringing the hands back to the mat, to lower the body slowly and gently.
10. Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Come to lie on the back again, legs straight down the mat. Hug the inner thighs together and point through the feet. Bring the hands flat under the hips and forearms close to the sides of the torso. Take an inhale, push into the forearms and lift the chest to the sky. Variations are to leave the head lifted or let it hang back, ensuring the weight is in the forearms and not the head or neck. Hold for five strong breaths.