Yoga is a fantastic way to increase your balance. Yoga teaches you to find a hold your centre of gravity and with regular practice you’ll be surprised how quickly your balance will improve. Here are 6 poses to practice that will get you comfortable with maintaining your balance before moving on to more advanced poses.
6 Yoga Poses to Increase Balance
Mountain Pose – Tadasana
Description: Begin by standing with feet together, heels and toes touching. While maintaining a straight back, hold your arms gently to your sides and turn your palms outward. Lift your toes, spreading them out and placing them back down so you create a wide base. Sway, side to side, until you place your weight evenly on all four corners of your feet.
The muscles in your knees and thighs should be contracted, rolling inward to create a widening of the sit bones, and your abdominal muscles should be tightened. Make sure that your shoulders are parallel to your pelvis, lengthen your neck so your crown extends towards the ceiling and your shoulder blades slide down your back. Hold for 30 seconds and relax.
Benefits: The mountain pose is the foundation of all standing poses and once mastered will allow you to progress onwards. It improves your posture and firms the buttocks, thighs and abdomen.
Common postural errors: Wrong alignment or ankles banging against each other. Tips: Practice against a wall first so that you learn how to form a true, straight line. If your ankles are hitting against one another, widen your feet slightly and find your centre of balance again.
Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Description: From Upward Facing Dog, kneel on your hands and knees with your knees directly below your hips. Stretch your hands out slightly in front of your shoulders with your fingertips facing forward and hands should-width apart. Exhale and press against the floor keeping your elbows straight. Lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling and your knees away from the floor, lengthening your hips away from your ribs and elongating your spine. Press your heels against the floor, contract your thighs and try straightening your knees. Turn your thighs slightly inward and broaden your chest and shoulders. You should position your head in between your arms. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Benefits: Reduces anxiety, strengthens your arms and legs, while stretching shoulders, calves and hamstrings.
Common postural errors: Sinking shoulders down into spine. Tips: Focus on contracting your thighs and lengthening spine to stop shoulders from sinking.
Awkward Pose – Utkatasana
Description: Begin in the Mountain Pose, raise your hands forwards and over your head, keeping your hands shoulder width apart or clasped, depending on your preference. Exhale and bend your knees and your upper body forward so that it is at a 45 degree angle in relation to the floor. Maintain a straight back and relax your calf muscles, allowing the weight of your upper body to sink into your pelvis instead, transferring the weight onto your heels. Inhale and straighten you knees while lifting strongly through your arms. Exhale, returning your arms to your side and returning to mountain pose.
Benefits: The Awkward Pose strengthens the lower back and quadriceps, stretching the shoulders, arms and hamstrings.
Common postural errors: Having an arched back. Tips: Try to keep your back as straight as possible by performing the lowering motion with your thighs, knees and hips.
Tree Pose – Vrksasana
Description: Begin in mountain pose and bring both hands up, pressed together in a prayer gesture and shifting your weight onto your left foot keeping the inner foot firmly to the ground. Bend your right knee, reach down with your right hand and grasp your right ankle, drawing it up and placing the sole against your inner left groin with toes pointing at the floor. The centre of your pelvis should be directly over the standing foot. Straighten your spine and firmly press your right foot into the inner thigh while resisting with your outer left leg and returning your hands to the prayer position in front of you. Gaze at a fixed point directly in front of you and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Exhale and return to Mountain Pose, repeat again for the opposite leg.
Benefits: The Tree Pose improves your sense of balance and strengthens thighs, calves, ankles and spine. It also relieves sciatica pain and reduces flat feet.
Common postural errors: Misaligning the hip. Tips: You can start by doing this pose against a wall to aid in finding you balance. Keep your hips square and pointing forward.
Extended Triangle Pose – Parivrtta Trikonasana
Description: From the Mountain pose, move your feet until they are roughly three feet apart, with your pelvis, chest and head aligned. Inhale and raise both arms straight out to the side, until they’re parallel with the floor, palms facing down. Exhale, and keeping your legs straight, pivot on your heels to turn your left foot all the way to the right and keeping your heels in line with each other.
Lower your torso to the right, as far as is comfortable and keep your arms parallel to the floor. Once your torso is fully extended, drop your arm so that your left hand rests on your ankle and extend your right arm to the ceiling. Extend your arms as far as you can in opposite directions and turn your head to focus on your left thumb. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat instructions with opposite leg.
Benefits: It stretches the spine, back, shoulders, ankles, hips, groin, hamstrings and calves. It also alleviate backaches.
Common postural errors: Twisting your hips. Tips: Keep your leading knee centred over your foot and if you feel unbalanced, you can practice with keeping your back heel against a wall.
Low Lunge Pose – Anjeneyasana
Description: Step your right foot forwards, aligning your right knee over your heel. Then lower your left knee to the floor, making sure you keep your right knee steady and in the same place. Slide your left foot back along the floor until you can feel a comfortable stretch in your thigh and groin, resting the top of your left foot against the floor. Lift your torso upright while inhaling, sweeping your arms up by your sides until they point at the ceiling. Push your tailbone down toward the floor and lift your pubis up. Tilt your head and gaze upward while reaching toward the ceiling, and hold for 1 minute before moving into the plank pose.
Benefits: The low lunge pose tones hips, arms and shoulders while stretching knees tendons and ligaments.
Common postural errors: The knee leans to one side rather than being straight. Tips: If your lowered knee is uncomfortable, place a folded blanket underneath it.