Yoga for Balance: How to Stay Steady in an Unsteady World
Balance is key in yoga. In fact, the ability to maintain balance is one indication of your functional age. The longer you can balance on one foot, the “younger” you are. So, in a sense, practicing yoga for balance, can make you younger!
Not only will you have a steady gait when you master balance, but you’ll develop core strength and flexibility as well. And the ability to stay balanced transfers off the mat too. It keeps you sane and steady when life get crazy and hectic.
Balance is especially important if you have a body type known in Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) as vata. Vata types can be airy and spacey and often feel ungrounded. The season for vata is fall, so you may want to practice more yoga for balance during that time of year if you’re a vata type!
No matter what your body type or what time of year it is though, balance is an important skill to master, both physically and mentally.
Yoga for Balance: Poses for Beginners
When we practice yoga for balance, we do a range of poses that require the ability to stand on a single leg. Two examples for beginners are:
Tree pose. This quintessential yoga balance can be done in several ways. You balance on one leg and place the foot of the other leg above the knee, below the knee, or just off the ground above the ankle. Bring your hands in front of your heart in prayer or lift your arms above your head like the branches of a tree.
Eagle pose. In this pose, you learn to balance with bent knees, which engages the glutes. Wrap one leg over the other. Also, wrap one arm over the other. If your right leg is over your left, do the opposite with your arms. That is, wrap the left arm over the right. Then lean forward and hold the pose.
More Yoga Poses for Balance
Once you’ve mastered tree pose and eagle pose, you can try these more challenging balancing poses:
Warrior three. Here, you stand on one foot with your body parallel to the floor and your back leg extended. Try to keep your hips square and stretch your arms straight back.
Half-moon. This is another pose in which your body is parallel to the floor, but it is a side-facing balance. It’s a good idea to use a block when you practice half-moon to get a good lift so you can keep your body parallel to the ground.
Side plank. Another pose in the side plane, this pose helps you learn to balance on your hands instead of your feet (or one foot).
When you practice yoga for balance, don’t worry if you’re not steady all the time. In all of life, we wobble occasionally. When you wobble or even fall, just take a breath, and get right back into the pose!
If you want more help getting in balance or learning yoga basics in general, join my free 28 Yoga For Beginners Program at Do You Yoga. There, you’ll find video tutorials where I teach you the individual poses for balance and much more. See you there!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!