Yogis often speak of how the practice of yoga postures is a metaphor for life off the mat; grounding through the back foot in Virabhadrasana can teach you to remain grounded mentally under stress. This principle is readily applicable to balancing poses-after all, we all could learn to bring more balance to our lives. In balancing asanas such as Vrkasana (Tree Pose) and Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose), it is crucial to keep the gaze focused at a still spot. This prepares the mind for meditation and is a form of Dharana, or concentration, the precursor to true meditative practice (Dhyana) in classical yoga teaching. In fact, Tree Pose is used as a meditation posture and yogis can be seen meditating in this position on the banks of the Ganges even today.
The following sequence is an intro to balancing poses. Tomorrow I will post a more complicated sequence to build on this one. I recommend doing a basic warmup (stay tuned for a video on warming up in the upcoming days), followed by at least 4 rounds of Sun Salutations (http://yogabymelissa.blogspot.com/2010/04/sun-salutations.html). If you are just beginning with balances, incorporate these poses into the beginning of your practice, after the Sun Salutations. As you progress, do more standing poses before balances to tire the legs out and add a challenge. Remember to come into and out of poses slowly and with control. If you are a beginner, do each pose for as long as I do in the video. If you are more advance, or as you progress, hold each pose for 10-15 breaths. Remember to breathe deeply and gaze at a still spot to increase focus and balance. After the balancing sequence, you can progress to floor postures or just do some simple stretches to cool down. Also, it is important that you do these poses barefoot to connect with the floor and foster better balance.