by Kris Fondran
So just how “balanced” are you?
For most of us, this is probably a loaded question!
Let’s start by taking a look at the obvious, physical balance — the ability to control your body ‘s position while stationary or moving.
Balance is considered a component of fitness. And like many fitness attributes, factors like age, inflexibility, weak muscles, poor postures, etc can negatively impact it.
Our balance primarily hinges on our eyes, ears, and overall “body sense,” and these are also influenced by such things as your energy level, overall wellness and environment.
Your brain has to tell your body to constantly make adjustments to compensate for a lack of balance — and to keep you from falling over or knocking into things.
On any given day a lot of energy can be expended just in keeping your body upright! This inefficient use of energy can also produce strain in other areas of the body that should not necessarily be involved with the movement, thus creating even more imbalance.
So how can you improve your balance and make it effortless?
Flexibility and strength are key components of balance, and both can be improved through a variety of stretches and yoga postures.
The core, glutes, hamstring, quadriceps and hips can have a profound influence on static and dynamic balance, and they should be addressed first when trying to identify weaknesses.
You can then use specific yoga postures to target the identified weaknesses, helping you stabilize and strengthen the area(s), and leading to better balance and a reduction of injuries.
Balancing postures such as “tree pose” have been shown to develop parts of the brain that are associated with how the body works while in motion, positively effecting your ability to move with steadiness and grace.
The body is very adaptable, so progress should be noticeable after just a few weeks of regular practice.
Because balancing postures require focus, bringing one-pointed awareness to the posture will help you acquire the sense of steadiness necessary to hold the posture for a period of time.
Try practicing balance postures in a quiet room that has a clock with a second hand so you can track the amount of time you’re able to hold each pose.
Start with 10-20 seconds on each side and gradually work up to a total of 2 minutes.
A bonus aspect of adding balance postures to your practice is that they are also associated with various psychic energy centers in the body thought to control physical, emotional, and mental energy.
Regular use of these balance postures can improve and regulate your various energy levels, conserve energy by reducing nervous or unconscious movement, and give you more grace and fluidity as you move through your day.
Improvements in mental concentration, emotional balance and a reduction in stress and anxiety can also be byproducts of regularly practicing balancing postures.
If the fast pace of life has you feeling “out of balance,” improving your physical balance is a good place to start!
Try these postures today, and let me know how you did in the comments below.