Monday, April 25, 2016

Find Your Balance

Learning yoga is a great way to improve and maintain your balance throughout life.  Yoga balancing poses include arm stands, handstands, headstands and standing on one leg.  There are also many poses outside of these categories that can challenge your sense of balance.  Here are four of our favorites for you to play with and try.

Notice your breath when you practice these poses.  The most common mistake we make while balancing is to hold our breath.  See if you can hold these poses for at least 3 full breaths. 

1. Boat Pose (Navasana)

This seated pose is will not only challenge your balance, it will also beef up your abdominal muscles.  Begin in a seated position.  Bend your knees and hold the backs of your thighs.  Sit up super duper tall and try to lift your feet up without rocking the boat backwards. Keep your back tall like the mast of a ship and see if you can balance with no hands. Is your boat strong?  Can your boat float while rocking on the waves of your breath?

2. Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)

It might not seem difficult, but Pyramid Pose stretches your back and hamstrings while testing your balance. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.  Step one foot forward so your stance is wide like a pyramid.  Hold opposite elbows behind your back while you fold forward with your back straight.  For more stability press your fingertips down on either side of your front foot.  Flex your leg muscles and breathe.  Hint: To help balance press into the big toe of your front foot and the pinky toe side of your back foot.  Be sure to switch sides and hold the pose for an equal amount of time on the other side.

(Coloring by Anonymous)
3. Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)
This one-legged balancing pose is one of our favorites.  It will help open your heart region and align your back too.  Begin in a standing wide-legged stance.  Turn one foot out and shift your weight to it by bending your knee.  Slowly lower your body like a teapot pouring tea.  Stretch your leg behind you.  Try to touch the ground with your hand while you reach your other hand toward the sky. Straighten your standing leg.  Breathe and balance.  Tip: To help balance, use a yoga block with your leading hand or try this pose with your back against the wall... or both.  Switch sides for equal time.
(Coloring by Jocelyn O’Shea.  Enter our coloring contest to win prizes or money!  
Images used in SM get $10 - and you can enter multiple images)

4. Crane / Crow Pose (Bakasana)
This pose is the ultimate arm balancer.  Many people surprise themselves when they discover they can execute this difficult-looking pose.  Squat down with your feet close together and your knees spread apart.  Lean forward and put your hands on the floor close to your feet.  Push up on your tip toes and lean forward until you feel the weight of your legs on the backs of your arms.  Try to balance gently like a crane.  Tip: If you feel like you might fall on your face, use a pillow!

This is just a small sample of useful yoga poses that help improve your balance.  Remember, just because something is difficult for you today, doesn’t mean it’s impossible.  With a little bit of practice and an attitude of exploration and fun, your balance and yogic ability will improve every day.  Namaste!