Like flexibility and strength, balance is a key component of yoga, that can be worked on over time. However, unlike flexibility and strength the secret to balance is far from simple; it can feel like you are working away at your yoga poses and just not getting there. Even so, there are things you can do to help your Balance Standing Yoga Poses. Here are a few:
1. Start From The Base
Always make sure you are utterly grounded and your feet (or foot!) is evenly spread out on the floor. The outer and inner arches of the feet should be sharing the weight equally and pressure should be balanced between your heels and spread out toes. Push down firmly into the floor through the foot, imagining you have a strong root reaching into the ground.
2. Lock The Knee
Building up strength in your legs is essential to good balance. Locking the knee sounds quite alarming but it simply means engaging all the muscles in the legs, especially around the knee so that you can see the knee cap lift. By engaging the muscles fully you are avoiding pushing back into the knee joint which can be damaging to the knees. The best place to start is to squeeze your quadricep, which is the front part of your thigh, starting just above the knee cap. This muscle is one of the largest in the body and responds the fastest to use. You can build strength very quickly in your thighs, however, the same applies for loosing strength. A strong straight leg is essential to standing balancing postures such as Tree Pose, Standing Head To Knee and Standing Bow.
3. Engaging The Inner Thighs and The Buttocks
Squeezing the inner thighs, even if they are separated, helps enormously with balance. This helps pull all the weight into the centre of the body and aids alignment which is essential to balance. The same applies to lifting the buttocks. Tighter is always better when it comes to balance. The more engaged your body is, the easier you will find it to balance. Squeezing the inner thighs and buttocks also helps to create the strong straight leg mentioned above.
4. Square The Hips
A stable pelvic girdle really helps with balance. Squaring the hips means keeping both hips on the same plane so that they are nice and level. Even if one leg is lifted off the floor, try and feel with your hands or look in a mirror, to make sure your hips are in one line and you are nice and centred. There are excepetions, such as in Half Moon pose, but these open hip poses are a lot more challenging and still require awareness of the pelvis.
5. Zip Up and In
Core strength is really important with balance and it keeps everything centred and controlled. When balancing keep pulling in the pelvic floor and abdominals, remembering to breathe deeply. Plank and Boat pose can really help with core strength.
Yoga works all the small stabilising muscles that other exercise classes will not work. Hundreds of sit ups wont really help you with your balance, as they are mainly working on the visible abdominal muscles that aren't actually that practical. Luckily this means that the more yoga you do, the better you balance will be. Naturally, we all want to be better NOW, but yogis know that he human body responds best to awareness and work over time.
Unlike flexibility and strength balance is just as much about our mental focus as our physical state. Therefore working on your focus and calm will really help your balance. Using your gaze can really help your balance. Always focus on one stable point directly ahead of you. Try to block out any wobbly image from your mind. Believing in yourself is also really essential. If you can believe you will balance, you probably will.
8. Don't Get Frustrated
We all have bad balance days and sometimes you have to accept that is just the way it is. Tiredness has a great impact on balance, and you may find things you eat or drink make a difference to how long you can stand on one leg. If you are feel you are losing your balance the best thing is to accept it and let yourself fall so that you can get back into the pose. Trying to keep your balance in a miss aligned pose is not really worth it. If you keep falling, have fun doing it and know that tomorrow is a different day!
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