Advanced Challenge Poses

5 Poses to Build Balance + Stability in Toestand

Balance, core strength, and range of motion in the ankles and hips will help you master this unconventional yet empowering standing balance. Miami vinyasa and vedanta teacher Rina Jakubowicz shows you how to warm up for and master her March cover pose.

Balance, core strength, and range of motion in the ankles and hips will help you master this unconventional yet empowering standing balance. Miami Vinyasa and Vedanta teacher Rina Jakubowicz shows you how to warm up for and master her March cover pose.

Standing Hip Opener

Rina standing-hip-opener

Start by warming up the hips.

From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), bend your right knee and bring the outside of your left ankle on top of your right thigh. Flex your left foot. Find your balance and actively press your left knee toward the floor to give yourself a deep hip stretch. Press the palms together in the center of your chest for Anjali Mudra. Lower your hips back and down a bit, feeling the stretch in the outer right hip even more. Hold for 10 breaths, then exhale to release and inhale back to Tadasana before switching sides.

See more hip openers

Tree Pose, with Half-Lotus Variation

Rina Tree Pose variation Vrkasana Rina Jakubowicz

Vrksasana, Variation

From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), bring your left heel as high up on your right hip as possible, placing the outer edge of your left foot into the crease of your right hip for Half Lotus. The key to finding a deep Half Lotus is to keep your foot high as you drag it over with an externally rotated hip, keeping everything pulled inward. Engage the quadriceps of the standing leg by grounding through the right foot and pushing the floor away from you. Pull the low belly up and in, standing tall. Place one or both hands in prayer positioning in front of your chest for a variation of Anjali Mudra. Hold for 10 breaths, then exhale to release before switching sides.

See also 4 Challenging Tree Pose Variations for Better Balance

Squat

squat-toestand

From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), place your hands in prayer position (Anjali Mudra) in front of your chest and start bending your knees, pressing your thighs and heels into one another. Lift your heels off the floor, pressing the balls of the feet down as you keep your core engaged. Maintain a long spine, trying not to hunch over or lean forward as you lower. This will help you build core strength and find your balancing point. Hold here, taking 10 deep breaths.

See also Learning to Squat

Twisting Squat

Rina twisted-squat-toestand

This squat variation challenges your balance and stretches your hips and spine. From a squat, bring your hands together in Anjali Mudra at the center of your chest. Hook your right elbow to the outside of your left knee. Actively press your right elbow into your left knee while pushing your top hand into your bottom hand, bringing your thumbs to the center of your chest. This lifts the chest and makes sure that you are stretching and strengthening your spine. Finding balance here is hard, so make sure you can find your center as you twist. Hold here, taking 10 deep breaths, before switching sides.

See also Find Freedom in Noose Pose

Skater Pose

Rina skater-toestand

Start seated with both knees bent in front of your chest and your feet flat on the floor. Extend your right leg out in front of you and reach for your right foot with both hands. Keep your sitting bones grounded and lift your chest. Then, when you’re ready, shift your body weight forward, pressing the foot of your bent left leg into the floor. Press down so much with your left foot that your hips and right leg lift and you find yourself balancing. This pose will increase your ankle strength and flexibility. Look at one point in front of you and take 10 deep breaths before switching sides.

See also Lace Up + Let Go: Yoga Poses for Figure Skaters

Toestand

Rina toestand

Come back to your Half Lotus Tree Pose variation. Then bend your right knee and lower your hips toward the floor, lifting your right heel. Bring your fingertips down for balance and find one-pointed focus on an object in front of you. Center your weight over your right heel. Maintaining a long spine and engaged core, slowly start to experiment with lifting one hand off the ground. Press the ball of your right foot into the floor for help with balance. See if you can bring the other hand up and into Anjali Mudra. Hold for as many breaths as possible. If the hip is too tight, it will knock you off your center and make you fall, so if you can’t maintain balance here, return to some of the earlier hip-opening poses in this sequence, taking the time you need to warm up for Toestand.

See more standing balances

About Rina Jakubowicz

Rina Jakubowicz is a bilingual yoga teacher and Reiki practitioner based in Florida. She is the founder and owner of Rina Yoga, which now has three studios in Miami, and teaches there and at events worldwide, including Yoga Journal LIVE, the Glow Yoga Festival in Puerto Rico, and Feria Mujer in Chile. She is the yoga expert on Univision’s Spanish language music television series Tu Desayuno Alegre, the host of Health & Wellness Channel’s YOUnity Yoga daily morning show, and the creator of a pioneering yoga curriculum for children and teens called Super Yogis’ Schoolhouse.