Balancing asanas are an important group of asanas which we have not yet introduced in this course. These asanas develop the coordination between the muscles of the body, so that the individual is able to perform physical movements more gracefully and more efficiently. Many people lack synchronization between the muscles. The different muscles seem to hinder more than help each other. This means that more effort and energy are required to do less work. To attain a specific movement of any part of the body, there has to be perfect timing between the relevant muscles and between the nerves that activate the muscles. Some muscles and nerves must even act in opposition, partially blocking the required movement, so that the resulting movement is graceful and well directed. All movements of the body, no matter how small, are controlled by means of various nerve pathways to the brain. These nerve pathways ensure that the muscles relax or contract to exactly the correct degree to attain perfect muscular response and thereby perfect movement.
The brain centre that controls all movements of the body is called the cerebellum. It is located at the back of the head behind the top of the spine. All asanas help to develop and harmonize this centre by encouraging control of body movements. That is, to practise asanas it is necessary to develop a greater degree of muscular control, which has repercussions on the brain centre itself. Balancing asanas, however, have a direct influence on the cerebellum, for a good sense of balance and coordination is required to practise them. Without a reasonable sense of balance it is difficult to do these asanas. Therefore, by practising and perfecting them the cerebellum is developed. And this improvement in the functioning of the cerebellum results in better coordination and health in the whole body. All the different functions of the body are harmonized so that they work together instead of against each other.
These balancing asanas are also useful for inducing mental stability. To maintain equilibrium in the final pose, mental concentration is necessary. One’s whole attention must be directed towards maintaining physical balance, which helps to remove stress and nervousness and to bring about a state of mental equanimity. When you have a well-integrated mind you will gain perfect control and coordination of the muscles and movements of the body.
Since sense of balance is rarely developed in everyday life you may find the following simple looking asana a little difficult. This means that your cerebellum is not functioning as well as it could. The body is very adaptable and through practice you will find that balancing asanas gradually become easier and easier. In this way you will improve the efficiency of the cerebellum.