Looking for the best yoga poses to improve balance? In this post, we we’ll look at four different yoga poses designed to improve your balance and stability.
What is balance?
Balance is more than just being able to stand on one foot. It’s about being able to maintain control of your body to keep it in an upright position. Balance is an important aspect of many of our everyday tasks.
What many people don’t realize is that balance is more than just our muscular control. Our balance is impacted by three different systems in our body; our visual system, vestibular system, and musculoskeletal system all impact our balance.
This is why if you close your eyes, it’s more difficult to maintain your balance. It’s because closing your eyes takes away one of the systems that helps us stay balanced (our vision), so now the other two (vestibular and musculoskeletal) have to work extra hard.
In regards the vestibular system, this is located in our inner ear and gives us information about where our body is in space which means it’s super important in regards to balance. If you’ve ever suffered from vertigo, you’ll know how much of an impact the vestibular system has on our balance.
The last part of balance, the musculoskeletal system, is also super important. Strong muscles help to improve our balance while weak muscles can have a negative effect on our balance. The core muscles are super important in balance because they are the ones that help to keep the trunk upright.
A good example of how weak muscles can make balance more challenging is looking at the ankle muscles. When you stand on one leg, the ankle muscles have to work pretty hard to keep you stable. If these muscles are weak for whatever reason, it’s very challenging to balance on one leg.
How can yoga help to improve balance?
So know that you understand what balance is all about, how can yoga help? Certain forms of yoga, like vinyasa yoga, work on muscle strengthening. Like we learned before, strong muscles are helpful in terms of balance. Even more specifically, vinyasa yoga can work on core strengthening and many poses put your body in a position that will challenge your balance. It’s also super great at improving your body awareness and your proprioception (knowing where your body is in space). Body awareness is SO important for good balance.
When working on balance poses in yoga, we can challenge the balance even more by changing where you are looking. A way to make balance poses easier is to find something called your “drishti”. Drishti is when you focus your gaze on one point. This can help to make balance poses easier and is great to use. For those that want to challenge their balance even more, you can change where your eyes are looking. For example, looking up while in tree pose will make balancing more of a challenge than looking straight ahead.
Disclaimer: If you are having a problem related to balance, make sure to see a medical doctor and physical therapist for evaluation.
4 Yoga Poses to Help Improve Your Balance
Notes for the first 3 poses listed (the standing poses):
- These standing poses can be done at a counter for extra support.
- For all of the standing poses, make sure to keep a slight bend in the standing leg. NEVER lock out your knee.
1. Tree pose (vrksasana)
Tree pose is probably the most common balance posture in vinyasa yoga. It’s a wonderful way to work on balance and stability through your ankles and feet.
For the modified variation, place the foot on the inner calf of the standing leg.
For the full variation, place the foot on the inner thigh of the standing leg.
I don’t recommend placing the foot on the knee.
2. Standing knee to chest
This pose is also great to work on stability of the ankles and feet.
Make sure to stand up tall and keep the spine straight!
You can modify by holding under the thigh of the lifted leg.
3. Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III)
This standing balance pose starts to bring in a little extra core work and it challenges many muscles in your body!
This pose can be modified by hinging less at the hips and not lifting the leg as high.
Make sure to keep the spine long and straight.
4. Boat pose (navasana)
Remember how I said balance isn’t only about standing on one leg?
This pose isolates the core abdominal muscles which are important for good balance.
Make sure to keep the spine straight. It helps to think about lifting through the heart and bringing the shoulder blades down and back.
To modify this pose, you can hold on behind your thighs.
So there you have 4 yoga poses to help improve your balance!
For a full vinyasa practice focused on yoga poses to improve your balance, check out the video below.
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