When in a balance pose, you are using ALL your body. You are working multiple muscles. In a lunge you are involving not just your legs (thighs, calves, quads), but also your back, feet, shoulders, arms. And if you are doing a high lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana - what a mouthful!), your hands are even involved. I don't mean involved like you're just using them, but you are actively using them.
Let me explain. In a lunge; 'Anjaneyasana', it is so much more than just squatting down and remaining static in that position. Clearly you are utilizing your leg muscles. But you're not just 'posing' in a lunge. You keep this pose highly active. To start (once in the lunge), for your legs portion, you are 'pulling' your thighs towards each other, and 'pulling' your ankles towards one another. You are not actually moving in any direction, you are simply doing what is referred to as isometric exercises. Next, your feet are solidly planted into the ground. Stretch your toes and dig into your mat, for your solid foundation (Note: this is important to do with all balance poses, excluding inverted poses). Now, your torso is solid. Your abs are engaged, always. Keeping your form solid and strong. Your back is long and solid, with your shoulders back and chest out. Lastly, your arms are stretched out, reeeeeaaaching out. You are actively stretching your arms in front, over head, or behind you. Feel the tension. Every muscle is engaged. There's nothing simple about it (well, except how easy it is to do). When doing a high lunge, your hands will be planted into the ground. Stretch out your fingers and dig them gently into your mat.
See what I mean? It's very dynamic! Who knew right?!
Here are some more examples.
The unassuming Mountain (Tadasana) Pose: This is a simple pose, but it's still active! Your core is solid, abs are always engaged. This is what keeps you solid and steady, like a mountain. Your back is strong thanks to your abs engagement, but your shoulders are still being actively used -> down and back with your chest out. Your arms are stretched with your biceps, forearms, and triceps engaged! Your legs are not as actively engaged in this pose, but your feet are. Alike I explained above, your feet are your anchor point. Keep them secure and flexed into the mat. One optional addition to this you can do, is to keep your glutes engaged. Just tighten your glutes for that extra foundation and strength benefit. Tightening your glutes also assists in keeping your pelvis pulled 'in'. If you bring your hands to heart center in prayer, you can hold and push your hands together, isometrically keep them firmly in place.
Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) or Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana): In both of these poses, your feet are firmly planted, your standing leg is solid and engaged, and your arms and hands are stretched, reaching out beyond your body! Your hovering leg is also reaching! Your leg is strong, the glutes tight and engaged, and your toes pointing out and stretched. You are lengthening your entire body. From the point of your index finger to the point of your big toe. As always, your shoulders are back and down (away from your ears) and your abs are engaged, keeping your foundation solid. In Half Moon, your chest is lifted and facing out towards the side you are twisted towards.
Tree pose (Vrikshasana): Same as above with your standing leg and foot planted, hands at heart center, shoulders back and down. However, your lifted leg is slightly pushing into your standing leg. Your thigh and your foot are gently pushing towards each other. Core is engaged, keeping your foundation solid. (Notice, I use the word 'solid' a lot. It makes sense. You are keeping your body solid and fierce. This is how you balance and create strength).
That's a lot of work going on, am I right?! However, it's relatively simple for anyone to do. It may sound intimidating, all this effort, but it's actually not that difficult. What it is, quite simply, is being mindful. This is wholly what Yoga is in it's essence. Being mindful and aware of every fibre of your being! This is what helps you achieve serendipity and balance in this hectic life. And soul connection.
The key to your success is practice. You keep trying, you keep learning, and you reap the benefits for body and mind.
Yoga For Thought
"Love is how it feels to recognize our essential unity. Awakening to oneness is the experience of Big Love. Knowing you are one with all, you find yourself in love with all." ~ Timothy Freke
Peace Friends 💚