Improving Balance in Yoga

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Balance is something that is improved greatly with a regular yoga practice.  I can tell you that before I started practicing yoga, I was so unbalanced and uncoordinated.  A regular yoga practice has improved my focus, concentration, and balance on and off the mat.  Although you may not think about it, we use balance to do most things in life.  As we age, our muscle strength, vision, and perception will naturally diminish causing the act of balancing to be even more difficult.  The great news is that a regular practice in balancing can help slow down, prevent, and even reverse the loss of balance. While it’s easy to just say, “Start practicing balance and then you’ll be better at it”, the reality is that there is a lot that goes into the act of balancing.  Read the tips below and begin incorporating them into an active balancing practice.

Clear your mind and move slowly
Often when practicing balancing poses in yoga, we tend to rush into the pose.  The rush of moving our muscles without thinking about it causes us to lose our foundation and results in frustration when we can’t hold the pose.  Begin any balancing pose by clearing your mind.  Find a place to focus on in front of you, that is still and free of distractions (Looking forward and down helps us feel grounded and will help you maintain balance).  Take deep inhales and exhales through the nose, let go of any thoughts, and instead visualize yourself in the pose that you want to move into.   Move slowly and calmly into the pose, being mindful of your weight distribution and the movement of your muscles.

Build the pose from the ground upimage
In Standing Poses, start with the feet.  First find your balance on both feet.  Spread the toes and distribute your weight evenly into both legs and through the bottoms of the feet.  Think of pushing down into the ground deeply with your big toe and pinky toe, as well as the ball of your foot and the heel.  When you do this you should feel a slight lift in the arch of the foot.  If you’re moving into a pose such as Tree Pose, only begin to lift the foot once you feel grounded in both feet.

imageIn Arm Balancing Poses, begin with the hands.  This will be similar to standing poses, so start by spreading your fingers and distributing the weight evenly through your hands.  Push down into the mat through all edges of the hand.  Like the lifting of the arch of the foot, you should feel a slight lifting in the palm of the hand.

Balancing takes practice, so set an intention to not become frustrated with where you are in your practice.  You will find that some days might be easier to balance and some days will be harder.  Accept this as a normal part of the process and don’t let it hinder your practice.

Three Beginner Poses to Start Improving your Balance

Chair Pose

Chair Pose

Balancing Table

Balancing Table

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

Benefits of a Balancing Practice

imageImproved perception
Increased muscle strength
Improved joint mobility
Better focus and concentration
Reduction in stress, anxiety, and fatigue

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