Balancing poses in your yoga practice are not only about building stability, but also connecting with the energy that grounds us to the earth. By connecting to the very foundation of this energy, you will establish more stability, endurance and control, mentally and physically. There is a union of physical, (muscular) and organic energetic energy.
As you come into a balancing pose, begin by establishing the foundation. Take time to set the foot and standing leg to properly align and engage stabilizing muscles around the ankle for strength and stability. Begin by spreading all of your toes wide, place each toe on the ground one by one beginning with the baby toe first. As you place and ground through the big toe, be aware of the alignment of your big toe through the inner line of your heel. All other toes “fan out” so you can ground down through all four corners of your foot. The muscular action of setting this foundation engages the outer and inner edge of the ankle joint. This acts to stabilize the side to side movement of the ankle. Relax the toes, so that you are not gripping the ground. An easy way to know if you are doing this is to notice that the toes are white from gripping. “Gripping” causes contraction of the muscles running along the bottom of the foot, in turn causing a burning sensation due to lactic acid build up leading to undue stress.
Stress and strain in attempting to hold a balance sends negative feedback to the mind and through the body. Ideally, the purpose of a balancing yoga pose is to provide time and a space to explore and calmly reflect. Once you find a place of non straining, you can then explore the quality of the balance deeper. Notice how slight adjustments change the posture, as you root and connect your foot into the earth, connect to the energy of being grounded. Let you body find a place of stillness without straining. Become aware if you are tensing, whether its through your foot or through the muscles on your face. It takes less energy to smile than to frown.
Explore subtle adjustments, become light, and find a place where this pose is no longer rigid. There is energy from your centre core rising up through the centre line of your body up and out through the top of your head, (your crown chakra) like a fountain. There is also energy from your centre core grounding and rooting you to the earth. Let your feet drink and draw energy from the ground beneath you. Be balanced from your centre, neither overly engaging or contracting or collapsing.
You cannot force stillness into a balancing yoga pose.