Can standing on one leg really sort out your bad mood?

The honest answer is : “Who knows? but it is worth a try”.

I usually encourage people to practice yoga asana balances because they are helpful for many reasons. Balancing on one leg can strengthen that leg. And the opposite leg too when you balance on that. A regular balancing practice has also been shown to reduce falls and accidents. Balancing is quite good for your spatial awareness too. So what’s not like to like about balancing?

I like balances because they are quite helpful in bringing balance to a mind that is all over the place.

Standing on one leg and balancing for a while is a great way to bring a sense of focus, and to forget all the thoughts that Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras describes as whirling around. He says it a bit more eloquently: ” Yogash citta vritti nirodhah” (Yoga Sutras, 1.2) – which has many interpretations but the one I particularly like is : “Yoga stills the ever turning mind”. The thoughts – “citta” have a tendancy to “vritti” – turn around and around.

So one good way to stop the citta from vritting is to stand on one leg. But there are some useful tricks you can do to help too.

I call these the famous five tricks for balancing. (1) Breathe (just breathe normally) (2) find a point to focus on – anything within range of sight is helpful – like a crack on the floor or a spot on a carpet (3) think “up” and consciously extend or lengthen your spine (4) think about the other parts of your body rather than focus on that leg and (5) don’t worry at all about what you look like.

Wobbling is of course optional. Allow yourself to wobble. Don’t worry about it. In fact, a linear type of wobble is called walking. Did you know that we are balancing when we walk? So if it helps you, why not try doing a slow motion walk, pausing to allow one foot to remain in the air long enough for you to experience the balance. If you feel wobbly, just lower your foot and continue your slow motion walking.

You can add texture to that. I like to use obstacles to walk and balance over. My current favourite is a thing called a bosu ball. It’s half of a ball. And its extraordinarily wobby too. It’s good fun if you are wanting to balance in tricky situations. But the floor is equally ok.

With these components in place you can do this yoga move any time, any place. You don’t even have to do a fancy pose. You can simply lift one foot off the ground and balance on the other. Like when you are in a queue at a supermarket or wherever you are.

It’s useful to try a balance like that when you feel that you are becoming angry, or frustrated or irritated. Just take one leg off the ground and adopt the famous five tricks for balancing and see where your emotions go after that. Of course, we have been hardwired for emotions and this ploy is useful if the emotional ramping up is not helping you. You can of course take action and seek to resolve whatever is making you angry etc, but if it’s affecting your moment, balancing is simply a choice you have – you can seek to wind the emotion down or you can ramp it up and face the consequences of either.

Either way its a useful trick to have up your sleeve or down your trouser leg if you ever want to avoid getting wound up.

I find it works. But I am interested to see if works for others. I have created a mini social experiment in the form of a survey. Perhaps you can have a go? When I have enough data, I will share this. Who knows we may be able to prove or disprove the power of standing on one leg in search of calm ?

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