As you probably know if you’ve practiced for a while, yoga improves balance. I don’t just mean emotional balance, though that’s important. I’m talking about physical balance here. If you’re feeling unsteady, practice yoga for balance!
Balancing poses are not the most glamorous yoga poses, but that doesn’t make them less valuable than a strong warrior or vigorous vinyasa flow! And if you’re getting older (and we’re all getting older) working on physical balance is crucial to your overall well-being.
Why it Pays to Practice Yoga for Balance
As we age, our physical balance tends to decline. There are a few reasons for this. For one thing, the inner ear, which is responsible for keeping us balanced, loses cells. As a result, we’re not as accurate in detecting when we’re physically off center, so our brains don’t get the message to move to compensate. This makes falls, and the injuries associated with fall, more likely.
Another thing that affects balance is eyesight. It’s probably obvious why. If you try to walk a straight line with your eyes closed, you’ll quickly see why your sight is connected to your steadiness.
The good news is, yoga can help compensate for some of the factors that weaken balance as we age. Specifically, many poses help improve muscle strength and reflexes. When we practice yoga for balance, we train our bodies and brains to work together to keep us upright and steady.
Yoga Poses for Balance
If you’re standing on one foot instead of two, you’re working on balance. So, tree pose, eagle, and king dancer are obvious choices if you want to practice yoga for balance. If you want to take it up a notch, go for warrior three or crow!
You can also improve your ability to balance by turning upside down. Though they are more advanced poses, arm balances and other inversions are ideal ways to improve balance.
Want to balance sideways? Try half-moon or a prayer twist.
You don’t need to be one limb or upside down to work on balance. Even a simple pose like mountain pose can help with steadiness. Chair pose is another good balancing pose.
Anytime you’re not standing flat on your feet you’re working on balance. Think high or low lunges and warrior one here.
Another great way to work on balance is to try going through a sun salutation or vinyasa with your eye closed. (Try is the key here; it’s okay to peek if you need to.)
So, you can see, there are a lot of ways to practice yoga for balance.
Why Balance Matters
It’s easy to take balance for granted, but it is a truly important ability. Mobility means independence, and mobility depends on the ability to balance. While you’re probably able to move around now, letting your balance go can have serious consequences, especially if you become injured or ill. The steadier you feel, the more productive and active you’ll be no matter what else is happening in your body or in the environment around you.
Do you feel steadier since you started practicing yoga? What are you favorite poses for balance?