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balance breaks
Credit: KidsYogaStories.com

Balance breaks or poses are thought to develop the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls the body in motion. They may also improve memory, focus and concentration, as well as physical coordination and grace.

The weight of the body shifted to just one area creates a natural compression in the joints making these poses soothing for the sensory system as well.

Children love balancing poses. They love the challenge. They love the feeling of victory over gravity.  When asked what his favorite part of Yoga is, a nine-year-old boy exclaimed, “Falling!”

Yoga practices are simple and can be done throughout the day.  If you are looking for easy ways to re-focus your child or students, check out these three simple balance breaks.

tree poseThe Tree Pose

Stand with both feet hip distance apart.

Take a moment to feel the weight of the body pressing the feet into the ground.

Feel your breath.

Look ahead and find something on which to focus your gaze.

Keeping the eyes steady goes a long way toward keeping the body steady.

Lean onto the left foot and carefully bring the bottom of the right foot to the inside of the left leg – either at the calf muscle or thigh muscle.  It is important to stay clear of the knee.

Feel your roots growing into the ground.

Slowly reach your arms overhead, keeping the shoulders relaxed down away from the ears.

Wiggle fingers like leaves blowing in the breeze. What kind of tree are you?

Try to hold steady for three to five relaxing breaths and then switch sides.

Benefits

The Tree Pose compresses the joints of the standing leg.  It helps to develop concentration and a sense of groundedness.

Demonstration of The Tree Pose

eagle poseThe Eagle Pose

Begin as you would for Tree Pose.

Stand steady, find a place to focus your gaze and feel your breath.

Eagles have enormous wings. A female American Bald Eagle can have a wingspan of more than seven feet! Stretch your arms out to the sides at shoulder height just like an eagle.

Bend your knees and cross the left leg over the right.

You can plant your left toes on the ground across your right foot, leave them dangling or maybe even hook your left foot behind your right calf, as shown in the drawing.

Cross your right arm over your left arm, past the elbows and place your palms together.  You may need to approximate this and that’s okay.

Hold the pose for three to five relaxing breaths and then switch sides.

After holding steady, take off and soar around the room.

Come back to land in your nest.

Benefits

The Eagle Pose crosses the mid-line of the body helping to develop inter-hemispheric integration in the brain.  Inter-hemispheric integration is the two sides of the brain communicating more efficiently. The wrapped arms and legs give deep pressure to the limbs.

Demonstration of the Eagle Pose at :46

boat poseThe Boat Pose Balance Break

Begin sitting on the floor.

Lean back on your hands, legs out in front, knees bent and feet on the floor.

Use the hands on the floor for support and lift the legs up. This may be your boat pose today.  Hold and breathe.

To accelerate the pose, otherwise known as making it more challenging, begin to straighten the legs so the toes and nose are lined up, as shown in the drawing.

Bring your arms out to the sides along the legs.

Try to breathe evenly without strain and keep the chest lifted so the low back doesn’t round too much.

Row your boat by clasping the hands together and paddling side-to-side, stroking the hands outside one hip and then the other.  This is a fabulous workout for the oblique muscles and crosses the mid-line of the body as in the Eagle Pose.

Benefits

The Eagle Pose engages core postural muscles helping to develop stability in the trunk.

Demonstration of the Boat Pose

A steady gaze, a still body and even breathing develop the nervous system on all levels. These three simple poses can help a child easily move into a state of balance or regulation.  These three simple balance breaks will carve the way towards balanced health, balanced perspective and balanced mind in and out of the classroom.