Heres How You Can Adjust Your Body Positioning For The Proper Knee Bend:
- Slowly unlock knees in yoga balance poses: Any changes you make should be slow and smooth to maintain balance and continue to strengthen muscles. These slow movements keep your muscles contracted and firing for muscle development. You will also avoid losing stability with conscious movements. Anytime you find your knees locked in a position, slowly bring them back to a slight bend.
- Proper knee positioning. Pay attention to the placement of your bent knee to your ankle. If you witness your knee bending inward towards your body and not directly in line with your ankle, then your adductors may be tight. Tight adductors are a leading cause of knee pain. Therefore, it is crucial to engage in a sound warm-up, which includes gentle stretches that engage the inner thigh muscles.
On the contrary, if your knee falls outward, away from your body, then it is a result of weakness in the glute muscles. This is your bodys way of compensating for the inadequate muscles being used. Strength training exercises that target the glute muscles, such as side-lying clamshells and squats, are a viable means of counteracting this harmful positioning.
- Exaggerate knee bends for strength training: As you become more comfortable with the slight knee bend, continue to bend for a greater challenge. This will strengthen the knee and make it more challenging to balance in a position with greater contortion.
Essential Yoga Exercises To Improve Balance
Yoga exercises serve several different purposes, one of which is improving balance. In the practice of yoga, the term balance transcends just physical strength and stability. Balance creates emotional harmony, mental clarity and spiritual energy.
Postures that require balance ground you in breath and body, keep you rooted in the earth, focuses your attention on each moment, and challenges your center of gravity. In other words, balance is imperative for a mind-body-spirit connection.
The sustained effort to center and recenter, when successful, brings not only the flesh and bones into balance, but also the nerve impulses, thoughts, emotions and consciousness Equilibrium brings equanimity, says Roger Cole, certified Iyengar Yoga teacher.
The outcome is a meditative state that leads to peace of mind.
Since the three main features of balance are alignment, strength and attention, Cole explains, mastery of this discipline requires sharp mental alertness and controlled physical form.
The outcome is a meditative state that leads to peace of mind, both on the yoga mat and in life. Here are four accessible yoga exercises that everyone no matter your experience or fitness level can practice to reinforce balance and enrich your well-being.
How Yoga Works And How It Can Help To Improve Your Balance
Yoga is a great way to increase your activity level, tone muscles and ease aching joints, all while working on your balance. Both enjoyable and gentle, yoga has emerged as the activity of choice for many older adults.
Yoga includes certain poses which are directly intended to target your sense of balance, these proprioceptive exercises train both your body and your brain – challenging your sensory and motor system to perform under specific conditions that can later be applied to everyday activities.
A study in Neuroscience Letters examined the role of proprioceptive exercises in improving balance in a group of subjects over the age of 60. The researchers found that these specialized activities produced the greatest effect when compared to other fitness routines.
The National Strength & Conditioning Association conducted a study looking into the effect of a short-term yoga program on balance in a group of young adults. They recorded a remarkable 228% improvement in balancing ability.
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Tadasana / Mountain Pose
Begin with your feet parallel to the ground. To stimulate the muscles in your lower legs, lift and spread your toes. Engage your quadriceps by bending your knees slightly. To level your pelvis, contract your lower abdominal muscle, and to bring your ribs in, contract your upper abdominal muscle. Draw your upper arm bones back and lengthen your side waist. Switch sides after a 10-breath hold.
The Mountain Posture Tadasana
The mountain posture is ideal for working on balance.
The correct posture: stand with your feet together. The toes should be flat on the ground to mark the anchor point as much as possible.
Stand up straight with the feeling that the head is pulled up by a thread and the tailbone is pulled down to the ground.
The arms are at the side of the body, and the weight of the body is distributed over each leg.
Close your eyes while mentally focusing on your feet.
The benefits: this posture prepares you for all the other balancing and anchoring postures.
When you close your eyes, you tend to sway, thats normal.
It is by concentrating and focusing only on your feet that you will learn to distribute your weight correctly and find the right balance.
The variant: the mountain posture can be done with the hands facing the sky in order to open the rib cage and experience more stability.
It is essential to focus on your breathing while your arms are in the air.
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Find A Single Focal Point For Yoga Balance
If youve ever stood on a single leg or been out of balance before, you may have found that focusing on a singular point made it easier. This is because vision and balance are closely connected. After all, your eyes communicate reference points to your brain. In yoga, finding Drishti refers to the focusing of your eyes and energy.
To improve your balance, try focusing on one fixed point while in your balance poses. This is often easiest when looking at a spot in front of you or on the ground. The point should not be too far away so that you do not have to strain your eyes to see. This also allows you to be more in touch with your body and sensations with limited interference from wandering thoughts.
Be sure to keep your head in a natural position, as this is also important in contributing to your balance. The vestibular organs in your inner ear are largely responsible for your ability to balance. So keeping your head straight or in a fixed position will help to make balancing easier as well. Any issues with your vestibular system will negatively impact your ability to balance.
To challenge yourself in your balance poses, take your gaze away from that point to make your muscles work harder. If you find your stability is off at any point during these poses, refocus your eyes back on that one spot to find your Drishti.
Why Is Balance Important
Balance is used for more things than yoga. Whether youre getting out of bed to take your first steps for the day, putting on your shoes, going for a hike, or even just walking balance is an essential skill that is often overlooked.
A strong balance practice can prevent injuries such as plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, knee problems, and even help to lessen lower back pain. This is extremely important as you age and your mobility decreases, especially if youve lived a mostly inactive lifestyle.
Even if youre not a senior or inactive, athletes can benefit immensely from balancing exercises. Whether youre hiking uneven terrain, trying a new workout, or learning to surf, youll feel stronger, more confident, and have more fun with better balance. Therefore, balance training exercises are important to incorporate into your fitness routine.
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What Balance Is All About
Balance is not just the coordination of the physical being but the symmetrical balance of the body, from the left to the ride side, the front to the back and the high and low part of the body. This is one thing that many people definitely lack although they may not know this. They may be strong in some parts of their body, probably the parts they use most, but on the other side, they’re not as strong. For example, if a person can bend forward all the way to touch their toes, they should also be able to bend backwards if they had proper balance.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana / Extended Hand
Start in the Mountain Pose, shifting your weight to the left leg and bringing your right knee to your belly button. Wrap your index and middle fingers around your big toe or use a strap around the foots sole.
Begin by straightening the leg in front of the torso. Then, shift only the right leg and arm to the right side, leaving the left hand on the hip or towards the left side, and looking over the left thumb. Hold for five breaths.
As Jana Kingsford puts it Balance is not something you find, its something you create. Enjoy creating your balance with the help of these simple yoga poses.
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Improving Balance With Balancing Cat Pose
A variation of the shin balance exercise starts in cat pose on all fours.
Shift your hips to the left. Feel your left knee pushing down into the floor. Your right leg should feel relaxed, as if it isn’t bearing weight. Lift your right leg and reach it back with the knee straight.
Next, shift your ribcage to the left. Feel your left shoulder become engaged. Your right shoulder should feel relaxed.
You can keep your right hand relaxed and lightly touching the floor. Then if you feel comfortable with your balance, try to slowly and smoothly reach your right hand forwards.
To stay balanced you can move your hand left or right whenever you feel your weight shifting or move your lifted leg left or right.
You may find Balancing Cat Pose easier if you lift the hand first and then the leg.
As with the shin balance, try pressing your foot down into the floor so that you can use your toes to help you balance. Also spread your fingers and make them strong to help you balance.
A more advanced yoga pose for improving balance is to grab the foot with the same side hand.
Rather than quickly grabbing the foot, work at doing it slowly and smoothly, in control.
Once you do grab your foot, add tension gradually, so that it is easier to maintain your balance.
When releasing the foot, work at staying balanced. To make that easier, work at gradually reducing tension in your hand and foot prior to letting go.
Balancing On One Shin
Improving balance can be a little more fun with the following “balancing on your shin” yoga pose.
Kneeling with your hips lifted, shift your weight to one shin and then lift the other shin. To make balancing easier you may find it helpful to shift your weight back so that you can press your toes into the floor.
You can then use your toes to help you balance.
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Hold Simple Positions For Extended Periods
While working toward more challenging positions and poses will ultimately make you better in yoga balance poses, mastering simple techniques is more important. Before you move onto higher levels of difficulty, make sure you can easily balance and hold simple positions for extended periods.
Holding poses for longer periods will help to build your strength in triggered muscles and will allow for greater improvement. These strong muscles will reinforce your balance and help you to fight through fatigue as you hold them for longer. Not only will your skills improve, but so will your confidence, which will help you move from pose to pose with greater stability and success.
It is recommended to hold these poses for at least 30 seconds, with a goal of holding until your muscles fatigue. Continue this process until these exercises are easy for extended periods and you do not notice any faltering in balance.
Why Use Yoga To Improve Balance
Exercises that require coordination of movements, such as some yoga postures, helps us train for balance, an ability that is closely related to the inner ear, where the vestibular apparatus or posterior labyrinth is located, which, among other functions, gives information to the brain about our body posture and spatial position.
The right Yoga position prevents us from suffering alterations such as vertigo, a disorder that causes dizziness, instability, a feeling that everything revolves around us
Also, as with the practice of other sports, these positions help to increase blood flow of the ear and eliminate stress, which in many cases is one of the causes of hearing problems.
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Easy Yoga Poses To Improve Your Balance
We spend all day balancing our work and personal lives , while ironically neglecting our literal sense of balance. Solid physical balance is more than just being able to stand on one foot: The ability to balance prevents future injuries, improves your focus and relieves stress.
The best way to improve your balance? Learn easy yoga poses you can do anytime, anywhere I find these to be especially helpful when youre in the middle of a stressful situation or have a tough decision to make. Easy yoga poses bring your mind back into the present moment and help you find your center, while your subconscious sorts itself out.
Before trying the easy yoga poses below, keep these tips in mind:
- If youre like me and your balance is worse than a drunk persons, these easy yoga poses wont feel so easy at first. Make sure you have a wall or chair nearby in case.
- Take your time move into each pose slowly and remain completely aware of what your entire body is doing.
- Work on each pose from the ground up: Start with aligning your feet, then legs, torso, arms and head.
- Keep your mind relaxed and focus on your breathing. When I first started doing these poses well, it was pitiful, but when I tried them again the next day I saw an immediate improvement. Keep it up!
Here are 7 easy yoga poses that will improve your balance in every sense of the word:
Vriksasana Or Tree Pose
- Stand straight on a yoga mat. Keep your arms by your sides.
- Bend your left knee and place the sole of your left foot on your inner right thigh. If this is not possible, place your foot on the inside of your right calf avoid the knee.
- Keeping your right leg straight will help you achieve and maintain balance in this pose.
- Pick a spot on the wall ahead of you, and focus on it.
- Once well balanced, take a deep breath in and bring your join your hand in namaskar mudra in front of your chest.
- Next, raise your arms above your head. Keep your spine and your right leg straight.
- Keep looking straight ahead at the preselected point on the wall.
- Stretch your arms up – as much as possible. Feel the stretch in your body.
- Take deep breaths. Relax your body every time you breathe out.
- Stay in this posture for a few breaths. Then, gently bring your arms down and lower the left foot on to the mat.
- Stand straight in the beginning position, and then repeat the steps bending your right leg with your left foot on the mat.
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Why Does It Decline With Age
Many factors contribute to the decline of balance: all the components of this finely calibrated system are targets of the aging process.
As we discussed, any disruption in of our visual system will greatly impact our ability to balance. Cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration are all common age-related vision problems.
These conditions lead to complications in our eyes ability to send accurate information to the brain about our position, causing dizziness and disorientation.
Disorders of the Inner Ear
Those tiny, sensitive nerve cells that make up your vestibular system begin to drop in number after the age of 55, and continue to deteriorate over the rest of our lifetime. At the same time, blood flow to the area begins to decrease.
Vertigo often results from the deterioration of the vestibular system in the inner ear. This disorder can be both severe or mild, resulting in sensations of spinning and disorientation as the brain struggles to make sense of the distorted/incomplete signals it is receiving.
With age, our muscles lose both mass and function, affecting their ability to perform as well as their strength. Since our muscles are an integral part of the balance system – carrying out the minute changes in position necessary to maintain proper balance – it goes to say that preserving muscle tone is paramount to good balance.
Balance Better In Standing Yoga Poses
If it’s a standing pose, being with the feet. Spread the toes to give a wider, stronger foundation. If you can’t spread your toes, reach down and manually push them apart. The small muscles in the feet are used to being confined in socks and shoes all day – they’re not used to stretching and working, so don’t worry if the toes can’t spread on their own. After the toes are spread, check out where the weight distribution is in the feet. Some people tend to put most of their weight in the heels, or in the balls of the feet. Aim for an even weight distribution. Then consider what’s happening with the arch. This will be an extremely subtle movement, but intend to feel a lift in the arch of the foot. From there, work your way up the body, activating the muscles as you scan your body.
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